December 28, 2014
Sermon Text — Matthew 2:13-23
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Matthew the second chapter.
That it Might Be Fulfilled – Out of Egypt
Beloved in the Lord,
This morning, our infant Savior embarks upon another journey. Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head for long. Their stay in Bethlehem is short one.
Persian treasures have been laid at His feet. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh, sacred gifts for the holy child, ornament the place where he lay. The magicians from the east have begun their return home and Herod’s henchmen ready their steeds, sharpen their swords, awaiting only the word.
The Child’s advent inaugurates the downfall of many in Israel. His tiny hands are curled around the scepter of righteousness. His teeny feet are shod with the gospel of peace. His infant tongue is sharper than any two-edged sword. The stars in the sky pay homage to their infant creator. Everything about this child signals the downfall of kingdoms and empires, of religions and cults, the rich and the full, the proud and the arrogant. With the birth of the Christ child the mighty are about to be brought low, even as the humble are exalted.
But their stay in Bethlehem is short lived! “Flee to Egypt” says the angel to Joseph in a dream. “And stay there until I bring you Word.” The ears of both Jew and Gentile might wonder at this escape route. Why go down to Egypt? Why journey to the land of Pharaoh and His idols, the land of their forefather’s bondage. Does the land of Ra serve as an asylum for the Son of the God of Israel, while the Holy Land of Israel possesses no cities of sanctuary? Matthew tells us this has happened to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my Son.” This Journey has been prophesied! This Egyptian stay is God’s will, part of God’s plan. For His Son is the fulfillment of His Heart’s desire. His Son is the fulfillment of Holy Writ, blessed prophecy, eternal salvation. For even as the patriarch Jacob made His way to Goshen, so now Jacob’s greater son retraces those footsteps that He may be called out of Egypt, called as Holy Israel in the person of Christ, called out into the wilderness to worship, back into the promised land to be Israel’s Savior, even the Savior of the whole world!
But the angel’s words quickly steal away the warm fuzzy feelings we normally associate with our Lord’s nativity. And all humanity is brutally reminded that the world we live in, the world this Christ child entered is a world full of hatred; hatred not just of their fellow man, not just of children or infants, but also of God. The Child must flee to Egypt because Herod, though knowing the prophecies refuses to worship Him. Jesus is a threat. The Child is a threat! The kingdom is at stake. He must die. The prophecy must be silenced, forever!
And so it is in our world today. Jesus remains a threat. And as much joy and happiness they bring, Children too are a threat. Anyone that compels us to love outside of ourselves is a threat, be it God or our neighbor. Who more than children embody this absolute need to be loved? Who is more dependent than a child? Who has need of care, compassion, nurturing, feeding, clothing, shelter, protection more than a child! Who is frailer? Who is more helpless? Who is more innocent?
A society that cannot love its children cannot love its adults. A society that cannot protect its children cannot protect its adults! Thus the very thing we long to love and protect more than anything else in the world, namely our self, is put in jeopardy because we cannot love others, in particular our children. If, as a society, we cannot love and protect our children, how can we love the homeless, the hungry, the poor? And if we fail as a society how then can we hope to succeed as individuals? How then can humanity rise out of its slummy lifestyles, inhumane politics, dysfunctional family dynamics, cultic recreational habits and fulfill our creator’s intention for us to bare His image in our human nature. In other words how can we fully be human!
But, instead of loving the tiniest among us we view them as a threat. There is a little bit of Herod within each of us. We see children as a threat to our income, our status in society, our ambitions, our careers, our education, our ability to seize the day for ourselves and to establish our own little kingdom on earth. Children are a threat to all of that! And thank God they are, else we poor adults would never grow up and learn to live for, to love, to protect, and to thank God for these weak creatures bearing our image as well as our resemblance. We would never begin to imagine the fullness of the words of the prophet when he said, “Unto you a child is born, unto you a Son is Given!”
That it might be fulfilled for you
Everything Jesus does, everywhere Jesus goes, He is fulfilling the words of the prophets! He is the fulfilling of the Father’s Heart and drawing you away from yourself; away from your false idols, your possessions, your earthly ambitions, away from your tiny little kingdoms here on earth. And to where does He lead? This morning its Egypt, outside the promised Land. That’s where Jesus goes. And wherever Jesus goes the prophets words, once filled with expectation are gifted with the fullness of reality, the fullness of the deity, and the fullness of humanity. In Egypt I must confess my slavery to self and allow this child to topple my sins. My heart must be turned toward Him with faith as I behold my Savior. He traverses the known world for all the World. He leaves Israel to redeem Israel. He does it in the flesh that He may do it for me for you and me.
And out of Egypt the Father calls His Son. And with His Son my humanity enters again the promised Land. He is baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness. He heals lepers to restore Humanity’s health. He gives Bread to nourish the nations. Throughout the Palestinian landscape the Son of Mary fulfills our destiny as He loves sinners, lifts up the weak hearted, has compassion on the less fortunate, takes little children into His lap, calls daughters from the grave & sons out of their caskets. He rebukes devils setting the captives free. He is perfect Humanity, perfectly loving, perfectly righteous! And His love moved Him to protect us from death.
Out of Egypt I have called my Son, says the prophet. Yes, out of Egypt we go to Calvary we come. There on the cross our God manifests His love for us. All that is wicked and inhumane is destroyed; all sin, all death, all hatred, all selfishness. Our tiny little kingdom here on earth is crucified. And thank God, else we would never be raised up! As Jesus strides forth on the third day, swaddling cloths folded neatly at the head of the sepulcher, Israel’s glory is risen, the nation’s light shines brightly, and my human nature is restored to the image of its creator.
With Christ all humanity is raised unto newness of life towards God and neighbor. The baptized receive this resurrection, this image, this life. For do you not know, that all who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father even so we should walk in newness of life! For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, we shall certainly also be united in the likeness of resurrection!”
The Faithful’s reception
Christ’s fulfillment of the prophets is the fulfillment of my salvation. Being raised with Christ I am a new creation. You are a new creation! In Newness then you are enabled to love as He loved. No longer are you bound to your sin. You are forgiven! No Longer must your heart look out for its own good. But now, free from the shackles of self worship you may enter again the “work a day world” and bring comfort, love, protection and mercy to those weeping with Rachel. Her children are no more and she refuses to be comforted but Christ’s gospel is for her as well. Baptized into Christ, you have been Christened! You now enflesh the image of God. Your humanity has been raised out of its slummy lifestyles, inhumane politics, dysfunctional family dynamics, cultic recreational habits and you have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill our creator’s intention to bare His image in your human nature. United to Christ Jesus you are fully human! True humanity fulfills the Word of the Lord. True humanity loves and protects the tiniest among us, the one celled fetus, to the oldest and the frailest, with every man, woman, and child in between. Your heart has been set free to love outside of yourself, to see in your fellow man one for whom Christ Jesus Died and rose again!
That it Might be Fulfilled – He will be called a Nazarene
Beloved in the Lord, look to your neighbors, your spouse, your children and grandchildren! Look to the person across the street, the clerk at the mall, the man willing to work for food! Look to sick and dying and show them compassion. Look to the poor and stretch out a generous hand. Look to the cold and clothe them. Look to the hungry and feed them. Look to the homeless and shelter them. Look around you beloved, God has given you a bounty of opportunities to love your neighbor as yourself! But you must first start, not with yourself as the world would pervert it, but with this child! Love this Child! Love perfect humanity, God in the flesh! Behold His deeds for you! He is the fulfillment of the prophet’s words, of Israel’s glory, the nation’s dreams, humanity’s hope. He is the fulfillment of the Father’s heart for you and for all. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus! AMEN!