Read: Matthew 2:13-23
Consider: In the last post we saw that King Herod asked the wise men (magi) to return to him when they had found the baby king, so that he could go to worship him. This was not Herod’s real intention as he saw in this baby a threat to his authority and position. Herod was a Roman appointed king and he believed any ‘king of the Jews’ would be seen as a direct threat to his authority and that of Rome. The wise men heeded God’s warning and returned to their own country, avoiding Jerusalem.
Once Herod discovered that the wise men were not coming back, he gave orders to kill all the male children in Bethlehem who were two years old and under. He wasn’t going to waste time trying to find out the identity of the promised Messiah, but to deal with the problem by having all the young boys murdered.
The verse from Jeremiah 31:15 (quoted in Matthew 2:18) is one of the saddest verses to do with the birth of Jesus. While Jesus’ birth brought great joy to his parents and those who came to worship him in Bethlehem (the shepherds and wise men), it was also an horrific and sad time for the parents of the boys who were murdered by Herod. Joseph had by this time taken Mary and the baby Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod.
When reading this episode in Jesus’ life it occurred to me that as a society we concentrate on the happiness that results from Christmas, yet for many people it is a time of great sadness and loneliness. Many people in society are alone at Christmas; some because they have no immediate family and others because of bereavement, or even estrangement from family. Whatever the reason, Christmas is a bitter reminder of their aloneness.
In the body of Christ (the church), there is no excuse for anyone being on their own at Christmas. The reason being that the church should act like a family and all family members likely to be alone should be welcomed into other people’s homes. This takes effort on the part of church members to be watchful for the needs of others and a willingness to open their homes to them. It also requires the openness of those who are going to be alone, so that they can be catered for.
Pray: Father, we thank you for Christmas time. Help us not to become so absorbed in our own needs that we forget the needs of others. May we be watchful for the needs of those who feel great sadness at Christmas and include them in our activities. Amen