Jesus: Marked for Suffering
Wednesday of Advent 3 Trinity Lutheran Church
16 December 2015 Murdock, NE
+Jesu Juva +
The Magi have just worshipped the Baby Jesus. Given Him gifts fit for a king: gold, incense and myrrh. Rightfully so! Baby Jesus is the king. But not just any ordinary king. When you see Jesus you see God. When you hear Jesus you hear God. The Baby that nurses is God. The Baby that cries, urinates and defecates is God. Jesus is God in the flesh. He is God in the flesh FOR YOU and for YOUR SALVATION: “to save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:21).
You would think that everyone would rejoice and believe this. You would think that all people would fall down and worship Jesus and confess Him as Lord.
King Herod doesn’t. He’s crazed with power and obsessed with jealousy. He desperately covets the worship that only belongs to Baby Jesus. He despises the new divine royal Baby. He will have no competitors when it comes to kingship. King Baby Jesus is marked for suffering and death.
So, as soon as you can say, “Bob’s your uncle,” Herod issues an executive order. All two-year old boys and younger living in the vicinity of Bethlehem are to be as they say in the movie The Giver “released,” which is a polite way of saying deliberately murdered. Yes, that’s right, murdered. Herod is a mad man! It is his tyrannical way of snuffing out or killing Baby Jesus.
Herod’s soldiers follow the gruesome order. All the little baby boys in and around Bethlehem are taken from their mothers’ arms or cribs and viciously slaughtered in cold blood. All but one!
Jesus escapes. How? Listen. “An angel of the LORD appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’”
That’s just what Joseph did. He immediately took Mary and Jesus to Egypt where they stayed in hiding until Herod died. Then the angel of the LORD appeared again to Joseph in a dream and said: “‘Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.’”
Now, these two events, the holy family’s escape and flight to Egypt as well as their return to Israel and Herod’s ruthless killing of the Bethlehem baby boys fulfills Bible prophecy.
When Joseph, Mary and Jesus return to Israel from Egyptian exile Hosea 11:1 and Exodus 4:22 are fulfilled. “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Just as Old Testament Israel as an infant nation went down into Egypt at the time of Moses, so now the child Jesus goes to Egypt. As Old Testament Israel was led by God out of Egypt, so also was Jesus.
However, Old Testament Israel was a disobedient son. A rebellious and idolatrous son. Jesus, however is the new Israel. Brought out of Egypt to live in the Promised Land, He is and remains the perfectly obedient Son that Old Testament Israel never was. Jesus is the true Israelite. The true Israel. God’s Son! “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Jesus is God’s Son. He is totally faithful in His service. He will go to the cross, suffer and die to make satisfaction or atonement for every sinner and for all the sins of the world! Good Friday, then brings about the final and complete Exodus – the final full deliverance of God’s people through the shedding of Christ’s blood and by His innocent suffering and death.
When Herod murders the Bethlehem baby boys Jeremiah 31:15 is fulfilled. “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and mourning. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more.” In the Old Testament when Israel went into captivity, Jeremiah heard Rachel, Israel’s mother, weeping from her grave. Matthew hears Rachel weeping again when God’s will to save the world through the Baby Jesus collides with King Herod’s selfish and homicidal desires. Matthew hears Rachel weeping again as Bethlehem’s mothers weep for the their massacred baby boys.
These mothers and babies were ruthlessly sinned against. By Herod. All for the sake of Herod protecting his own skin. It’s horrific. Sickening. Disgusting.
I can’t imagine all the heartache and the pain felt by the babies, their mothers, families and community. But this is precisely why Jesus came. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would “take up our infirmities and carry our sorrows” and that the “Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus personally and intimately knew the pain felt by the murdered babies and their grief-stricken parents. He carried it in His body. He felt it completely. When? As He hung from the cross in which He carried and answered for the sin of the entire world.
Jesus died for those murdered baby boys. He won heaven for them. Although He did not save them from Herod’s swords, He did save them from hell. He has saved you too. Who knows what you may be given to endure in this life for the sake of Jesus, but one thing is for sure. He remembers your sins no more. He forgives you. Heaven is yours.
In the Name of Jesus.