Friday, December 30, 2022 Christmastide

Friday, December 30, 2022

Reader: “Jesus, the Light of the world, is coming again!”

Response: “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!”

Scripture:  Matthew 2:13-23

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

“A cry was heard in Ramah—

weeping and great mourning.

Rachel weeps for her children,

refusing to be comforted,

for they are dead.”

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.”

So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Some thoughts:

The serene rose colored picture in our minds of the manger with peaceful animals and humble shepherds surrounding Mary, Joseph, and the sleeping baby didn’t last long. (Perhaps it never was quite that calm.) It seems that God entered the world amidst strife, hostility, and terror, a real world like today’s. 

Imagine the jolt to Joseph as he was sleeping and an angel appeared again in another dream telling him of Herod’s evil plan to kill all Jewish boys. The angel’s instructions were to leave immediately for Egypt. So in the middle of the night, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, the Redeemer of Israel, vanished from Bethlehem only to arrive weeks  later in Egypt. 

There is an interesting parallel. Some 1400 years earlier, a similar thing happened, only in reverse. Moses, the redeemer of Israel, was born when a narcissistic pharaoh, not unlike Herod, ordered all Jewish baby boys to be killed. Moses’ mother hid him and his life was spared as he was raised by the pharaoh’s daughter. Moses, a type of Old Testament Redeemer figure, led God’s people from bondage of slavery to freedom in the Promised Land. Though Moses was not able to complete the journey, it was Joshua (“Jesus” in Greek) who actually led them into Canaan. The true Redeemer finished the job of leading people from slavery to sin to true freedom from sin and ultimately heaven, the eternal Promised Land.

After a period of time, the angel appeared again in a dream and told Joseph Herod had died and that they could go back to Israel. Another dream had them travel to northern Israel to the town of Nazareth, where Jesus was to spend his boyhood years. This move fulfilled the prophecy of Hosea 11:1 in which the prophet says that God will call his Son out of Egypt. It would appear from the beginning Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, as he grew up, were aware of the devil’s attempts to destroy God’s plan of redemption and recreation. Again, Jesus is well acquainted with the pressures and stresses of life in this world from his early years on throughout his life on this earth. Trust him for the stresses we face.

Music: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”  Slavic Chorale

            “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”  Casting Crowns (original version)

Prayer:We pray Thee to be compassionate toward our weakness, O Lord, to guard us in peril, to direct us in our doubt, and to save us from falling into sin. From the evil that is around and within us, graciously deliver us. Make the path of duty plain before us and keep us in it even unto the end. Amen.                   ―King’s Chapel Liturgy, 1831