Reflections: The Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Today’s Reading: Matthew 2:13-18

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 52:13-54:10; Matthew 2:13-23

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:13–15)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Emperor Caesar Augustus reportedly once said that it was better to be Herod’s pig than his son. That’s because Herod executed several of his own sons to prevent them from taking power away from him. So it’s really no surprise that when he got wind of a baby born to be king, he turned to violence once more. 

The Holy Family could have gone anywhere outside of Herod’s reach for safety, but the angel directed them to Egypt. Perhaps Joseph was familiar with Egypt and even knew some people there who would let him lay low with his wife and newly born Son. But God certainly knew Egypt. That’s where He sent His son Jacob for safety during a famine. And there, Jacob became a great nation. But a time came when Egypt’s safe haven became an oppressive prison. So God called the sons of Jacob out of Egypt by His servant Moses.

The story of salvation echoes throughout history. God called His sons out of Egypt in the Exodus and He calls His Son Jesus out of Egypt. Both calls are surrounded by death, however. The flight from Egypt and the flight to Egypt are both initiated by the deaths of sons in the final plague and the martyrdom of the innocents. Even though Joseph found safety in Egypt for the Child, His death really was inevitable. The martyrdom of the Holy Innocents bears witness to the death of Jesus.

But just as God raised His Son from Egypt, He also raised Him from the dead. And because Christ is risen, the Holy Innocents will also rise. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Ah, what availed King Herod’s wrath? He could not stop the Savior’s path. Alone, while others murdered lay, In safety Christ is borne away (“Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band” LSB 969, st.3)

Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch