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Summary: A message in response to the tragedy of the school shooting in Connecticut and its relation to the killing of the innocent children of Bethlehem by Herod after the birth of Jesus.

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Sermon

Lanier Christian Church

December 16, 2012

David K. Simpson

The Tragedy of the Innocents

Matthew 2:13-18

The unspeakable happened on Friday. Twenty Innocent children and six of their teachers, all women, were murdered. As the Connecticut governor said: "Evil visited this community." It is hard to find words that bring comfort to those who have suffered such unspeakable loss. Here we are at the happiest time of the year and my heart is broken. I can't imagine how the families of those children and those teachers feel.

There are two basic lessons I gain from this tragedy.

1. EVIL IS REAL.

One day we will realize that we are in a spiritual battle every day. The devil doesn't want us to experience the peace, love, hope, and joy that is found in Jesus. He will do all he can, with his limited power, to disrupt and distort any blessings of God. Evil doesn't wait for a more convenient time. Here we are at Christmas time - wow - it makes the tragedy even more unbearable.

But Jesus understands. Evil didn't stop when he was born either. Herod sought to kill him after his birth. The Bible tells us in Matthew 2 that he ordered the slaying of every baby boy 2 years old and under in and around Bethlehem. Matthew quotes from the prophet Jeremiah, that there would be weeping in Ramah.

It was in Ramah where Rachel was buried. Rachel was the favored wife of Jacob. She was considered the mother of Israel. Her burial site was sacred. But, it was also in Ramah where the youngest and best and brightest of Israel were gathered by the conquering Babylonians to be sent into Babylonian captivity. Mothers watched their children led off into slavery, many of them never to return. The cries of mothers were heard then and they were heard after Jesus birth and they are being heard today.

Jesus escaped that tragedy to face his own tragedy thirty-three years later. But when he died and three days later returned to life, he guaranteed an answer to our sufferings... because....understand today that...

2. GOD IS GREATER

The baby born in Bethlehem became the king who conquered death.

The power of God is greater than anything evil throws at us - even death itself.

That's where faith kicks in. That 's where our belief in Jesus is our hope against all odds - even tragedy and death. Yes - when tragedy occurs, we are stricken with shock and grief - overwhelming at times. But must we remain that way?

When Jesus conquered death through his resurrection, he promised us: "Because I live, you too shall live." (John 14:19)

That's his promise. That's our hope. If we only believe in this life, the things of this world... we are, as Paul said, "to be pitied." (1 Cor. 15:19) But there is more - so much more. It's called Heaven. A place and a time when all the wrongs of this life are no more - and all the beauty and blessing we so desired in this life are finally brought to fruition.

We MUST see Jesus as our surest hope - the answer to our every pain and hurt and loss. I want you to notice something in the scripture. Matthew quotes from Jeremiah - an Old Testament prophet - Jeremiah 31:15 but notice the verses that follow:

15 This is what the Lord says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.” This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land. (NIV)

Jesus is the answer. There is hope for your future. There is a land that awaits us all - the innocent children and the believing adult.

Without Jesus - without his promises - there is no hope.

So, as all the reporters are asking this weekend: "What do you say to someone who has suffered such unspeakable loss?" May I suggest some answers:

You DO first....not say....just as Jesus did at the death of his friend Lazarus. You cry. You release the pain and heartache that wells up within. We were not made to carry such grief. You cry with them and say little, if anything. Your presence is your present to them.

Then, when the time is right - you offer words of hope - Jesus promised life following death. He said: "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." (John 11:25)

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