December 28 in Christmas

(If this day occurs on the first Sunday after Christmas,

please refer to that devotion instead.)

Exodus 1:8-22; Matthew 2:13-18

Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Again we look to the “Church Calendar” to see if this might be a special day to commemorate a special event – and it does.  December 28 is given to another group of martyrs, even before Stephen – a group so young and innocent that we shudder to think such an event could have happened.  But it did.  This day is given to the memory of the “Holy Innocents.”

You are familiar with the story.  We will celebrate the visit of the Magi on Epiphany (January 6), but we must briefly rehearse the event here.  On the night of our Lord’s birth, magi in the East (actually, pagan astrologers) saw an unusual phenomenon in the heavens which they understood to be of divine origin.  Through that same guidance they discerned that the “star” signified the birth of a great king in Judea and set out on a long journey to pay him homage: “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Herod (also known as “the Great” in history for his grand building projects) was not amused.  A paranoid and decrepit old man by this time, he ascertained from the magi when the star rose, explaining that he too wanted to see the child.  The magi saw right through this lecher, went and paid their respects to the babe, and then departed by another route.  As the magi refused to return to Herod to inform him of the identity of the child, Herod had all the male children in and around Bethlehem murdered up to two years old, so as not to miss this rival toddler to the throne.

And so, because of a murderous old man, several mothers were bereaved of their baby boys, who “refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”  We are enraged at the injustice of this heinous crime.  We plead with God, “Surely this was not necessary!”  It seems to ruin the whole account of our Lord’s birth.  The Bible is painfully honest about the evil that is in men, and in doing so boldly places the mirror in our faces.  What happened that day in Bethlehem happened before with the genocidal policies of Pharaoh and has happened numerous times since.  But what is the meaning of this day?  I think that day foreshadowed, even prophesied, the event some thirty years later of our Lord’s crucifixion.  As these “Innocents” gave their lives for Jesus, they anticipated the day when he would give his life for theirs.  This is the beauty of our faith: it is a faith of life-giving sacrifice whereby one loses his life to save it (Mark 8:35).  Our Lord’s sacrifice is the once-for-all, never-again-to-be-repeated exemplar.  But these holy children died in the faith they had yet to understand, and in so doing received their heavenly reward.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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