December 29: Rise and Flee
Text for Sunday, December 29, 2019:
PReparation for worship
This little Babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at His presence quake,
Though He Himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarmèd wise
The gates of hell He will surprise.
Matthew is telling us that if we are ever going to understand who Jesus is, we cannot simply make a beeline for Mary, Jesus’s mother, and Joseph, the adoptive father. No, we have to go back—a long way back—into the Old Testament.
I have chosen a dark (yet ultimately hope-filled) passage to preach this week. Stick with me this morning and I believe in the end this terrible story will fill you with hope.
One contrast that this passage gives us could be helpful for us to ponder in our particular political moment.
While we, in America, have no king, we do give an overabundance of executive authority to our presidents. We also give them a lot of deference and symbolically at least, we understand that honor is due them. Frankly, I think we make presidents more important than we should, and in fact, make them like little kings.
In today’s story, we have a juxtaposition of 2 kings: Jesus and Herod.
Herod does what kings (and presidents) can do. They can order people to kill.
Jesus does what no king can do. He, by himself, kills death.
15 Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.”
16 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work, declares the Lord,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future, declares the Lord,
and your children shall come back to their own country.