Sandy Hook Massacre


All of us, I think, were appalled and made sick at heart when we heard the news of the wanton massacre of those little children at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut. To think that this young man would not only shoot his mother but then go to this great school and kill twenty children and some eight adults is just unspeakably evil and unspeakably tragic. It seems so especially tragic at this time of year, at Christmas of all times, when this is the season when children are so filled with expectation and happiness. And it occurred to me that there are probably presents already under the tree for many of those children that were killed and will now not be opened. It is just almost impossible to imagine the agony that these parents must be going through. It seems so incongruous I think with the Christmas season.

But then as I reflected on it and it hit me very forcefully that the original Christmas was also attended by the wanton murder of children. I am thinking, of course, of what King Herod did. Let me just read from Matthew's account in Matthew 2:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea . . .”

. . .

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”

. . . being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

. . .

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled,
because they were no more.”

It occurred to me that far from being incongruous with Christmas, this horrible tragedy is one that, in a sense, echos the original Christmas which involved the murder of these children by Herod. It is a reminder really, I think, of what Christmas is for, what it is all about. This is God's entry into a world that is fallen, that is filled with unspeakable evil and terrible suffering. It is the message of Christmas that God has not abandoned us to such a world but that he has entered into human history himself in the person of Jesus and there takes upon himself that evil and that suffering to redeem us from evil, our own evil, and to bring us into a right relationship with him and give us healing and eternal life.

So this tragedy, I hope, will be a reminder to us of what Christmas is really all about – the deeper significance of Christmas. Not just happiness and gift giving and the festiveness of the holidays, but really the hope that is given to us who are lost in an otherwise evil and unspeakably wicked world.

So, in the midst of the suffering, the message of Christmas is, I think, that there is hope and God has provided it for us.[1]

[1] Total Running Time: 4:55 (Copyright © 2013 William Lane Craig)