Peace be with you!
Have you ever had exciting plans only to have them get cancelled? I have had plans change at the last minute, but somehow I got the feeling I was where God needed me to be. It is an odd feeling but also a feeling of being called by God.
Like most Jewish parents, Mary and Joseph probably had plans to raise Jesus around their families. They wanted to raise Jesus with the Jewish traditions. However, Joseph has another dream in which the Lord tells him to take his family to Egypt, because Herod wants to find and kill Jesus (Matthew 2:13). Joseph probably has to find a way to sell the idea to Mary; after all, most new mothers find comfort in having their own mothers close by. Joseph probably reminds Mary how many strangers came to see Jesus shortly after his birth. “There is always such a commotion around our son,” Joseph says, “How long will it take Herod to become jealous? You know Herod’s reputation, Mary.” You can probably relate to both of their anxieties: Joseph’s need to protect his family and Mary’s need to be near her family.
Nevertheless, Mary and Joseph pack up and move to Egypt, narrowly escaping Herod’s decree of death for all male babies around two years of age (Matthew 2:14, 16). Can you imagine Mary’s relief and gratitude when she heard what had happened to these children so near Jesus’ age?
Matthew’s Jewish audience would have seen the parallels between Herod and the Pharaoh from the story of Moses. Herod is afraid of the commotion surrounding baby Jesus (Matthew 2:16), and Pharaoh was scared of the growing numbers of the Israelites (Exodus 1:8). Both rulers were frightened of the loss of power. Jesus and Moses both become givers of salvation to their people. Like Moses, it can be said of Jesus, “and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1, NRSV). Mary is like Rachel weeping for the children not able to grow up. Their laments are a cry to the Lord to watch over the children.
When Herod is dead, Joseph has another dream in which the Lord tells him to go back to Israel, though he avoids Judea where Herod’s son still rules (Matthew 2:20, 22). This fulfills what the prophets have said about Jesus being called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23).
The Lord has a distinguished plan for baby Jesus and guides Mary and Joseph to make sure it happens. Mary and Joseph are faithful to obey God’s instructions.
In midst of a hurting world, the Lord is with us. God does not caused evil to happen but is present with us in the midst of it, providing guidance, protection, safety, and healing in the midst of a fallen world. Sometimes it is difficult to understand why bad things happen. However, we can rest assured God hears our laments and comforts us in our time of need.
Come, O Lord, come!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod’s decree. Help us to feel your presence in this hurting world. Be our guiding voice. Protect us from our enemies. Heal us of our afflictions. Lead us to fulfill your plan. Thank you for being our light in the world. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- Where is God in the world today? How do you feel his presence?
- Why does God allow bad things to happen?