Summary: Humankind has always opposed God's will and sought to limit God's movement among us. God's hand is upon his people and he is with them as they faithfully do God's will.
Matthew 2:13-23 “Opposition”
The warm, cuddly scene of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger and surrounded by his parents, shepherds, and the Magi, is theologically called the incarnation. Jesus shed his godliness and became human. From another perspective, it could also be called an invasion. Jesus came to breach the enemy’s shores and to bring a victory over sin, death and the devil.
I’ve seen enough WWII films to know what an invasion is like. When the allies invaded France on D-Day, or the Americans invading Iwo Jima, the fighting was fierce. A beachhead was established, though, and the allies and the Americans fought to victory. Jesus’ birth was not like these invasions. Shortly after his birth, it looked like Jesus and the forces of heaven would be forced by into the sea.
Herod heard of the birth of the King of the Jews from the Magi who had come to worship the newborn king. Immediately, Herod believed that Jesus was a threat to his throne and sought to kill him. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph along with Jesus were forced to flee to Egypt in order to evade Herod’s executioners.
Throughout his ministry Jesus experienced opposition from the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests and the unbelieving multitudes. They all fought against his teachings and tried to kill him. Eventually they succeeded.
The gospel of Jesus Christ continued to encounter opposition down through the centuries. Those in power sought to defeat it or control it and use it for their benefit. Emperors and Kings, during the Reformation the Roman Catholic Church, and dictators like Stalin, and Hitler. The battles continue even today.
A war goes on within us. Paul agonizes over his inability to follow Jesus and keep the law. In Romans he writes, “What I know is right and try to do I don’t do, and what I know is wrong and try not to do I end up doing. Wretched man that I am who will deliver me?”
GOOD OUT OF BAD
There is good news in our gospel lesson today, however. Even though Jesus and his family have to flee to Egypt and the future looks uncertain, God is still at work.
His exile to Egypt allowed Jesus to experience more of what it is like to be a human. Not only was he acquainted with poverty, he also came to understand what it is to be a refugee, an alien, a person living on the margins of society.
Matthew takes great pains to identify what happened to Jesus as a fulfillment of Scripture. Over and over again Matthew writes that “This was to fulfill the scripture …” Matthew wanted to proclaim that God was still in control and that things were moving according to God’s plan.
It is important for us to be frequently reminded of the truth that God is in control and that things are going according to his plan. In our highs and in our lows, in struggles and success, God is in control. God’s will will prevail and God’s kingdom will come.
Herod died as did all of the others who opposed the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus and his gospel prevailed.
We do have the victory over sin, death and the devil, and we are able to live in this reality today.
Today we are forgiven, we have a relationship with God and nothing is able to separate us from the love of God.
Though it looked questionable at first, God’s invasion succeeded. For this we can rejoice and be thankful, because we live in the victory.