How do we read a story like this absent any hope of Creation’s final redemption by God through Christ?


This is the dark side of Christmas, the slashing swords of Herod cutting flesh, bone; the blood upon the boys of Bethlehem.

Of the events around Christ’s birth it is a lurid, horrid counterpoint. Angels singing, shepherds adoring, magi arriving, guiding beckoning star, all of it recreated in nativity scenes in church and home, pageant and even parade. But there is a shadow coming, a scene of blood, terror, and fright. This is said to be Jeremiah’s prophecy.

Twice we are told in the Gospel of Matthew that the events of Christ’s birth were accomplished because it “was done to fulfill what the Lord said through the prophet.” (Matthew 1:22; 2:15)

Yet when it comes to the slaughter of the innocents of Bethlehem, Matthew unceremoniously throws the prophet under a bus. (Matthew2:17)

The Lord no longer speaks through a prophet, not as Matthew tells it. Matthew cannot bring himself to say this prophecy was the Lord’s word, or the Lord’s doing.

When Herod’s soldiers show up swinging swords against the little boys of Bethlehem, Jeremiah is left to himself. Here he does not speak for the Lord. Here he speaks for himself only:

“Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled.

A voice is heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children
And she will not be comforted,
For they are no more.”

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