Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, 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.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
// Matthew 2:13-18
Even as a two-year-old, Jesus’ life story was touched by oppressive powers when He was subject, along with His family, to displacement, terror and threats of death. The journey by which our God came to save us was anything but easy.
When Jesus came to earth He voluntarily made Himself so vulnerable – what could be more vulnerable than a baby being hunted to be killed? – so that He could feel, know and relate to our pain. Our God exchanged His Heavenly rights to be close to us, to be in the depths of our fear, our struggles and our desperation alongside us. He traded it all in so that He can truly say, “I know how you feel.”
The Advent story includes and bears relevance to people of every social standing – from ‘wise men’ who can afford expensive gifts, to the pregnant teen, the barren, the homeless, the obscure, the impoverished, the widowed and now the refugee. He loves us – all of us. No one is exempt and no-one is too far away. His story of ‘coming into being’ is one of the most humble, most scandalous, most obscure of beginnings so the we know none of our stories are too complex or twisted or marred for Him. The Lord stands with the humble; He is close to the brokenhearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).
He’s the God we can trust. He’s seen life from both sides. He knows well – first hand – the human condition and what it’s like to be at the very bottom. He also knows what it is to reign victorious over evil and to see the world from Heaven’s perspective. He knows the way out of every situation and every circumstance – He knows the end of the story, He knows what’s best for us, He knows how to save us, He knows the way to our victory: Jesus.
His protection is in His words. He calls us out of dangerous and dark places where harm can come for us. And when God speaks we must have the courage to immediately obey – for Joseph and Mary it meant rising in the middle of the night to flee the country, and for us it may mean a change equally as challenging, dramatic or terrifying.
His ‘coming into being’ is for all of us. It’s good news for every people group, every individual and every circumstance. It includes everyone – absolutely no-one is excluded. Jesus Christ stands with anyone who’s ever been affected by discrimination or tarred by stigma. And He calls us too, to stand with them – the marginalized, the oppressed, the crushed in spirit – on His behalf, to show them the truth of His great love.