Saturday 28 December 2019

Bible Book:

] are no more. (v. 18)

Matthew 2:13-18 Saturday 28 December 2019

Psalm: Psalm 124


Immediately before this story the wise men had visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Guided by God, they deliberately avoided King Herod on their way home. They thus thwarted Herod’s deceitful and secret plan to destroy Jesus – the ‘king of the Jews’ by whom Herod felt threatened.

The story then paints Joseph and Herod in contrasting colours.

Joseph is the model ‘righteous man’ (Matthew 1:19) who trusts God’s revelation through his dreams, and acts on it (vs. 13-14). He is entrusted with the protection of Jesus, the saviour (Matthew 1:21). Stealthily, by night (the arena of danger and death), he takes ‘the child and his mother’ to Egypt. They stay until Herod’s death, in 4 BC (v. 15). Egypt figured large in Jewish imagination. From there the Hebrew slaves, led by Moses, escaped to freedom, and eventually to settlement in Palestine. The saving mission of Jesus, the new Moses, now springs from a similar root (v. 15, which rather curiously cites Hosea 11:1).

The tyrant Herod, infuriated when his plan to take out Jesus is foiled, seeks to catch his prey in a cold and calculating way with a blanket slaughter of all young children in and around Bethlehem. This is the way of bullies and demagogues. It is pure evil. There is no consolation for the parents of the innocent, defenceless victims. (Jeremiah 31:15 is cited in v. 18 to underscore the generality of this theme.)

The people of God must never dally with tyrants. There is an alternative way of living. Joseph and then Jesus revealed it. Challenge and resist all who trample over the vulnerable; but make time for children (Matthew 19:13-15); and witness to the conviction that God’s love holds those whose grief is inconsolable, though they may never feel for themselves the strength of God (Matthew 5:4).


To Ponder:

  • In recent years millions of people in the world’s conflict zones, many with children, have had to flee from danger and persecution. How have the churches in your neighbourhood been able to welcome and support those seeking refuge in the UK? What more could be done?
  • "Put the child at the centre of the Church’s life and ministry." How is that theme expressed in your church and community? How is the theme sustained when few or no children are visible in worship?
  • In what sensitive ways can Christians support parents whose children have died in tragic circumstances?
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