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Christmas 2 – Matthew 2:13-23

by pastorjuhl ~ December 30th, 2010

Significantly revised and shortened from 2004.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Two weeks in a row, we are confronted with persecution of the Christ Child. An earthly king trembles for his throne after hearing the Magi ask where is He who has been born King of the Jews? Herod is not the only one trembling. All of Jerusalem trembled with him. Because of Herod’s insecurity, the Child Jesus is persecuted in a brutal way. All male children under two-years-old are murdered. Somewhere, somehow, this wanna-be throne robber will die. Herod doesn’t know, but the Child and His earthly parents are on their way to Egypt.

Egypt is a traditional place of refuge. Abram fled to Egypt during a famine. Joseph was sold into slavery, ending up in Egypt as second in command only to Pharaoh. Another famine was to strike the Holy Land. An angel told Joseph’s father Jacob do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again. God kept His promise as the Israelites made their way out of Egypt toward the Promised Land in dramatic fashion.

Many years later God’s children consistently forgot God’s Promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Kings refused to serve God and worshiped false gods. In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, a man named Urijah spoke against King Jehoiakim and his mighty men. The king sought to destroy this man of God but Urijah fled to Egypt. Urijah was later found, brought out of Egypt before the king, and murdered.

As in years past, so it is again in today’s Gospel. God’s Promise of a Savior is threatened. Herod seeks to slaughter the Child whom the King thinks will sit on his throne. Herod is willing to slaughter innocent children if that’s what it takes to stop the Christ Child. Herod’s arrogance continues today. We are approaching the 38th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in our country. Innocent unborn children are murdered because of arrogance. A mother makes a selfish choice to “abort” a “fetus” because the “fetus” might crimp their lifestyle. Maybe the mother cannot take care of the child. It’s better to do away with it than give it away.

These unborn children are innocent not because they do not know what sin is. They are innocent, like the Holy Innocents of today’s Gospel, because they are children of the Promise. They are declared “not guilty” by our heavenly Father, Who looks to the innocent blood and righteousness of His only-begotten Son Jesus. However, some say it’s best to save one’s life than to take away one’s life by having a child. The mother can have her freedom back without worrying about taking care of a child. Sometimes trivialities like “quality of life” or “unplanned pregnancy” are given as excuses for killing an unborn child.

A surprise pregnancy by a single mother was once a social faux pas. Nowadays it’s commonplace. Consider Mary hearing she would bear the Son of God in the flesh. Joseph wanted to put her away quietly and get on with life. Mary questioned the angel asking how can this be. When the angel explained how the birth of Jesus would take place, her response was not “I don’t have time for a baby” or “I’m not good with responsibility.” Mary responded behold the maidservant of the LORD! Let it be to me according to your Word.

Another word came to Joseph: arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him. The Promise is intact as the Child flees with His parents to Egypt. Rachel, on the other hand, weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. The blood of innocent children cries out for redemption. The blood of guilty children like us also cries out for redemption. Jesus Christ hears their cries and ours.

Jesus died for all, even those not given a chance to live whether by Herod or by an abortionist. Jesus takes on flesh not for an earthly throne. Jesus takes on flesh to destroy the destroyers of mankind: sin and death. While the devil, the world, and even our flesh rage against Christ, we believe their purposes will never succeed. Jesus Christ’s death destroys them. Jesus Christ’s resurrection guarantees His children who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, will also rise. Children die, but the Promise lives. Rachel mourns, but the Promise is triumphant. Tyrants rule, but the Promise overpowers their evil ways.

The Promise is most certainly alive and well, for the Word of God says out of Egypt I called My Son. The Lord God called us out of Egypt. The Egypt we are called out of is a place of slavery to sin. Through baptismal waters, we passed on dry ground safe and sound into the Promise of forgiveness and life. We are sustained with God’s grace in preaching and the Sacraments as we journey through the wilderness of earthly life. A Promised Land awaits us, where we shall see our Savior face-to-face and rejoice with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. This is the comfort not only of Christmas, but also of every day under the Son of God, Who always keeps His Promise. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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