Lord, speak through me and, if necessary, in spite of me that your word may be heard this day. Amen.
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God. John 1:1. It’s my favorite verse. The Word in John 1:1 is not words on a page, not God-inspired scripture, not over 600 laws written on stones and scrolls. The Word … or logos … was there in the beginning.
That … logos … that form of God became God incarnate … God in the flesh as a tiny baby born to teenage parents who’d been forced to emigrate to a town that was not their home, traveling 90 miles on the back of a burrow and on foot, the mother heavy with child. The logos came into the world, not as God with all the powers of God, but as a tiny, vulnerable, fragile infant in lowly surroundings … amidst animals in a stable. They named him Jesus. And the hope of the entire world rested on his tiny shoulders.
Before he was even two years old, his earthly father Joseph warned in a dream, he and his family become refugees, fleeing an oppressive ruler who wanted to kill him.
For Matthew who wrote today’s passage, it was the fulfillment of a prophecy; for Joseph and Mary, it is a moment of terror. For the little town of Bethlehem, it is a tragedy of historic proportions.
It was only the beginning of the many things that Jesus would suffer in his earthly life. As the author of Hebrews explains, Jesus was tested by suffering, and it was through that suffering that he would become the pioneer of our salvation. Remember that the author of Hebrews tells us, “Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”
Stop a moment and think about current events. We’re not unfamiliar with refugees. We hear about them in the news. We see them in our communities. We even hear about their suffering. But, seriously, can we really comprehend their suffering? Can we honestly feel the terror, the sense of great loss, the anguish they feel?
No, not really … at least not most of us. But we can save place for them … for the refugees from other lands, for the people cast out of their families and homes and churches because of who they love, for those whose job loss made them homeless. We can make and save a place for them in our lives, in our communities, in our neighborhoods, in our churches.
God’s saving grace saves place for us as believers. His same saving grace saves place for the displaced, for those who have yet to believe. His grace isn’t exclusive to us. It covers all sins, covers the whole world. It doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. It means we don’t suffer in vain.
And, if we are true to His commandments and we truly have Jesus resurrected as the Christ in us, then we will make and save a place for all. Jesus, our high priest, showed us through his life and ministry how we are to save a place for all. We just have to walk in his footsteps. We need to go forth, not sit here and wait. We need to spread his good news.
And we need to remember what Isaiah said: to tell what God has done because of all that God has done and because of His saving grace given to us. We need to deal honestly with one another and with all we meet.
Jesus saved a place for us when he was on the cross. It’s up to us to save a place for all his children.
Father, You are kind and good. It is impossible for anyone to deserve what Jesus has done. Your grace is free, undeserved, and unconditional. There is nothing I can ever do to repay You for all You’ve done and all You continue to do in my life. I am saved by Your grace alone and in humble response, I humbly thank you and offer myself to You. With Your Spirit’s help, may I live this day for Your glory.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that as the Scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. Amen.
I will recount the gracious deeds of the LORD, the praiseworthy acts of the LORD, because of all that the LORD has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely”; and he became their savior in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”
And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.”
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.
Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.
Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they are no more.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.”
Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee.
There he made his home in a town called Nazareth so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”