The Bare Soul - December 23, 2012
The Christ Child

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "The Christ Child" delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on December 27, 2012.

The Christ Child - December 27, 2012

Matthew 2:18 - A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.

When we read the story of Christ's birth, it is full of wonder and hope. Shepherds and wise men rejoice over the birth of the Savior. Yet, in the midst of this glorious event, tragedy taints the most important advent the world has ever known. Other families in Bethlehem and its environs had similarly celebrated the joyous coming of their babies in those days. However, they soon would see their children's lives ruthlessly taken from them. No one really knows for certain how many. The Martyrdom of Matthew states 3,000 babies were slaughtered by the command of Herod. The Byzantine liturgy claims more than 14,000 male children under the age of two were massacred, while Syrian tradition places the number at 64,000! Not to diminish the horror of this event, but the number was probably quite smaller. Biblical archaeologists believe from their findings that Bethlehem's population on May 14, 6 AD (the date claimed by Clement for Christ's birth) to be around 300 persons. If that is the case, then children under two years old would probably equal less than a dozen. However, no one really knows for sure. How far around Bethlehem did Herod's murderous edict extend? While it is doubtful 64,000 children lost their lives, it is equally as doubtful in my mind that just a handful of children were killed. Nevertheless, no matter the number, a life is precious and the heartache of those whose children were taken in such a cruel manner was no doubt heartbreaking beyond words.

As the Christ child escaped to Egypt with His parents, we read in Matthew's gospel how the innocents were slaughtered by a madman. Herod was one of a long line of megalomaniacal kings in Jewish history who sought to maintain his rule at any cost. Since he was crowned ruler of Judea by the Roman government more than 40 years earlier, he had killed scores of persons he considered a threat to his throne. The slaughter of the innocents was merely the crowning achievement of his murderous ways in the twilight of his reign. This man schemed and connived his entire life to ensure his rule and that of his posterity. When he gave the command to destroy the male babies in Bethlehem, this was nothing horrendous in his eyes whatsoever. This was merely the last of a long series of murders to ensure his kingdom rule.

We often look at this event as appalling, but it was the most natural reaction of evil for this malevolent king to perpetrate. While this unspeakable evil was done, the Son of God was safe far to the south. Some might say, "Why did not God intervene on behalf of the innocents while He protected the Son of God? Isn't this hypocritical on God's part to show favoritism to His own Son, yet allow the innocent to perish?" The same questions have been asked of God throughout the millennia. While many believe He sits safely in the heavenlies while continual injustice occurs here on earth, some would suggest this proves He is an unjust God. However, those who would question God in this way do not understand He is not only a God of mercy but one of justice. His character demands that He allow mankind to go the way we have chosen since that fateful day in the Garden. God told Adam and Eve that death would be the result of disobedience, yet they chose to go their own way. Even so, we have chosen to go our own way and the result is carnage and death on a worldwide scale. Why does God allow children to die? Why does He allow babies in Uganda to suffer and die by the hands of cruel men and evil regimes? Why does God allow entire communities with thousands of children to starve to death in the Sudan? Why does He allow terrorists in Belarus to destroy an entire orphanage of children? Because evil exists in the world and we as a species have embraced it! The result of this prevalent evil will result in the death and exploitation of the innocent. It always will. The problem is compounded when we as the human race believe we are not all capable of this type of evil.

Whether we are saved by the Prince of Peace, or are joint-murderers with the prince of darkness is our choice today as it was on that infamous day in Eden. We will either join ourselves with God and look toward the day when He will once again make everything whole. Or, we will continue to join ourselves with the devil and blame God for all the woes of our world. The innocents will continually be the tragic victims of our foolish decision as a race. What we need to do is put the blame where it belongs -- on ourselves, and submit to the Christ Child who can make it all right once again. Instead of saying, "Why" to God over the calamity of this world, we should be praying "When will you come and set things right?" When we look to Him for the solutions, we will understand so much more than those without God. The evil will still be unacceptable. But we will understand its origin and its final demise as we trust in God to one day rid the earth of those who would prey on the innocent, much as Satan preyed on the innocent in Eden's garden. Then, the blameless will be righteous before Him, never to be exploited by evil again.

Holy Father, may we understand that the innocents will always be subjected to the worst kinds of evil. The hearts of men are given to do evil because they are children of their father the devil. They have chosen their parentage by their choice to follow him. There is a day, Father, when You will wipe the earth of this plague. Then, the innocents will be continually in Your presence, never to suffer again. May You come quickly, Lord Jesus. In Christ's Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

 

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