After the wise men left, a messenger of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up, take the child and His mother, and head to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you it is safe to leave. For Herod understands that Jesus threatens him and all he stands for… After a few months had passed, Herod realized he’d been tricked. The wise men were not coming back. Herod, of course, was furious. He simply ordered that all boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years of age and younger be killed. Matthew 2:13, 16
He simply ordered… It’s a tragic part of the advent story that’s been swept away by countless Christmas pageants. It’s hard to process, so I avoid. Hard to reconcile, so I ignore. Have you looked away, too?
Only Matthew chose to go there — not Mark, Luke, or John.
Mary and Joseph fled a leader’s insatiable greed and insanity, racing to Egypt. No promise from family to email. No hope of seeing their relatives’ Instagram posts. No ability to connect to headlines to see what was going on back home.
The carpenter-turned-refugee fled. The girl-turned-Mother of Messiah found herself a refugee, too, desperate to escape Herod’s wrath. And the Son of God, in all his mortal, two year-old adorableness was clinging to his mama and probably asking “Why?” a hundred times all the way to Egypt.
Are you, too? “Why, Rescuer? Where is Your deliverance? Why Emmanuel? I’m so alone, so lonely. Why, Morning Star? Why is my story so dark?”
The injustice they left behind was so threatening, so severe, that pursuing the unknown with no one waiting on the other side was the solution. As Christ fled deeper into the mystery, baby boys in Bethlehem were being ripped from their mama’s arms, torn from the earth forever. The wounds of the community’s heart were so great that Matthew pointed back to another refugee crisis in his people’s history:
* A voice will be heard in Ramah,
weeping and wailing and mourning out loud all day and night.
The voice is Rachel’s, weeping for her children,
her children who have been killed;
she weeps, and she will not be comforted. Matthew 2:18 (Jeremiah 31:15)
And suddenly the advent story sounds similar to our own headlines. Did you catch it? Countless murders. Utter fear. Injustice.
A person of substance hopes defiantly. Her belief and desire will absolutely not be conquered.
From His birth, Christ entered a world churning with violence and injustice and fear, and from the beginning, He pointed to the cross. His cross. For through violence and injustice toward the Rescuer, we have life.
Our hope is not in what we watch every evening, or the headlines we scroll through on our phones, or countless news analysts. Our hope is found in a God who saw injustice and chose to enter the suffering in order to save us. His solution was to strip Himself of glory and wrap Himself in the mess. All the way to cross.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ ” Revelation 21:3-5 niv
On the fifth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me the Reason to hope defiantly.
… A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…
- What keeps you up at night?
- What horror abroad is making you restless? What situation in your own story leaves you unsettled every morning, every night?
- Read the Maker’s response to Israel’s weeping long ago: Jeremiah 31:16-17, Jeremiah 31:25, Jeremiah 31:35.
- How’s that definition of choosing substance coming? 🙂
* Matthew 2:18 — “The setting is Ramah, a village a few miles north of Jerusalem, where exiles are assembled before the long march to Babylon. Later the prophet himself will spend time in this refugee camp awaiting his own exile (Jeremiah 40:1). For now, he paints the picture of Rachel, one of the matriarchs of this nation, weeping for her children as they head off into captivity.” (The Voice: Step into the Story of Scripture, p. 922)