I thought about those illegals crossing the border into Manitoba and Quebec. I thought about families in camps in the middle east waiting for sloth-speed bureaucracy to give them a chance at a new life. I thought of those huddled in dangerous spaces in fear for their lives. I thought of those in leaky boats risking everything to get somewhere even remotely safer than where they had been.
My thoughts were triggered by this story from Matthew 2. Joseph and Mary have received a visit from some important visitors. Wise men from the East had come to find the infant King of the Jews. The then-current king, Herod, was less than happy to discover he might have a rival. Hoping to use the magi to flush out this royal infant, Herod instructs the foreigners to inform him of the child’s whereabouts.
They don’t. But that doesn’t lessen the danger to Jesus.
Matthew writes: “When they had gone, 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’” (Matthew 2:13).
And so they ran. We don’t know how they were received in Egypt. Were they viewed with suspicion? Or ostracised? At least there they were safe.
But the children left behind in Bethlehem were not. Herod, incensed that the wise men had not returned with the information he wanted, sent his troops in to kill every male child under the age of two (2:16) in the hope of getting the right one.
Families on the run. Families torn apart. Families looking for asylum.
Jesus had been a refugee. Though, because the events occurred when He was very young, He might not have remembered the experience when He was older, Jesus certainly would have heard the story of the fright that had sent Mary and Joseph scurrying off into the night. God could have protected them in Israel—but He chose to send them to a foreign country.
Matthew again writes: “And so was fulfilled what the Lord said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’” (2:15). Jesus’ own experience as a child became a living reminder of how Israel had been rescued out of physical bondage, and how Jesus Himself would rescue His people out of spiritual bondage from a Roman cross.
Today, on Family Day, I am reminded that Jesus knows how families feel, even those families in leaky boats, struggling across snow-covered fields, waiting in refugee camps, and adjusting to a new life in a strange country. He spares more than just a thought for them.