Wednesday

she refused to be consoled, because they are no more." (v. 18)

Matthew 2:13-18 Wednesday 28 December 2016

Psalm: Psalm 124


Background

This is a deeply painful passage, marked out by the maternalcharacteristics of God, and the strong paternal instincts ofJoseph.

Perhaps here more than anywhere else, we see Joseph's growingself-confidence in his role as earthly father and patriarch of hisfamily. For the second recorded occasion, Joseph hears God in adream. On this occasion, it causes him to respond immediately.Joseph not only recognises God's voice, but has seen God's promisescontinually fulfilled and therefore trusts that this occasion willbe no different.

Herod's sense of threat to his position and authority mars theevents. Threatened by the star-lit prospect of a new saviour tooverturn his rule, Herod characteristically overreacts. When hediscovers that he has been duped by the visiting magi, and when hisentourage are unable to discover the newborn Jesus, Herod ordersthe slaughter of all boys under the age of two.

This is a passage of gratuitous violence.

The scale of infanticide is deeply shocking.

Indicative of Matthew's Gospel, there are numerous parallelswith Old Testament patriarchs and prophets. There is a slightreference to Moses' leading of the exodus (verse 15) and thekilling of the Egyptian firstborn (see Exodus 11).

These cross references to the Jewish salvation story does notmake infanticide any less gory and unnecessary.

In the face of two opposing acts of patriarchalism, it isnoteworthy that God's character is revealed to be more maternal incharacter here. The quoting of Hosea 11:1 (in verse 15) expressesGod's love of God's people. The final quoting of Jeremiah 31:15 andthe reference to Rachel weeping over her children, again highlightsthe more feminine character of God.

Amidst the pain and bloodshed, there is hope - hope thatfollowing exodus comes freedom; hope that God's story is lived outby those who are refugees and outcast from their own territory. Asthe theologian Joe Kapolyo notes (in The African Bible Commentary):"God was not ashamed to let his son become a refugee. By sharingthe plight of stateless refugees, Jesus honoured all those whosuffer homelessness on account of war, famine, persecution, or someother disaster … The Bible is full of men and women who knew whatit meant to be refugees."


To Ponder

  • Have a look at JPIT's video A Very British Nativity, which highlightssome of the challenges facing asylum seekers in the UK through amodern retelling of the nativity story.What difference does it makethat Jesus was a refugee?
  • How does God speak to you today? How can you create more spacefor God to speak to you throughout today?
  • Read about the work of the SayingGoodbye charity supporting families who have lostchildren. 

 

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