God in our Tears

It is Christmas Eve … and let’s be honest … sometimes Christmas doesn’t turn out like we expect. We hope for the best but when the family gets together  … someone will act up, someone will be rude, someone will get their feelings hurt.

On a more serious note … there will be sadness due to a family member who couldn’t make the trip.  There will be sadness due to a family member who was present last year but who is no longer living.  Or perhaps it simply hasn’t been a good year. Perhaps it has been a year of pain.

Along with all the joy – perhaps there will be tears this Christmas.  In this post we look at a passage that is often ignored … because no one likes tears at Christmas.

In previous posts we’ve looked at …

Join me in reading [Matthew 2:13-23]. 

This passage concludes the Gospel of Matthew’s telling of the Christmas story … but we often skip it.  Matthew’s conclusion of the Christmas story includes a murder plot, an escape, and the execution of the murder plot. Tears … at the very first Christmas.

When you read the Gospel of Matthew he makes the connection between this Savior born in a manger and the Old Testament extremely clear. And this passage is no exception. Three times this passage gives us the refrain: “so this fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophets.” There is a direct link between this baby born in a manger and words of the prophets of old.

In the last post we looked at the beginning of Matthew 2 and we were introduced to King Herod and the Magi. Both Herod and the Magi claimed a desire to worship Jesus. Yet, only the Magi followed through with worship. The Magi perceived Jesus as king. Herod perceived Jesus as a threat. Thus, he has put a murder plot into action … nothing new to the pages of Scripture.

In reaction to the murder plot, Joseph and Mary take baby Jesus to Egypt. And Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, doesn’t want anyone to miss out on the imagery.

God’s grace in the Old Testament:

He saved His people by miraculous deliverance in Egypt.

You know the story …  Moses was called by God to deliver the Israelites from slavery Egypt. It was done in miraculous fashion: ten plagues proved the power of God. And Moses led the people to freedom.  The story was told over and over again. Parents gathered the children around and relived the story. God delivered the people from slavery in Egypt. Tears turned into hope.

But things didn’t always remain butterflies and lollipops.

In the middle of this passage Matthew provides a reference to a fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15. It’s an obscure passage to us – that includes tears.

The context of Jeremiah 31:15:

Exile 

Perhaps you know the story … the Babylonians attacked and destroyed Jerusalem. On top of that, scores of people were ripped from their home and taken into Exile.  Jeremiah 31 acknowledges the severity of the situation but promises a future deliverance. Tears turned into hope.

Matthew writing to a Jewish audience makes the connection between this Savior born in a manger and the Old Testament extremely clear. After laying this foundation, he tells us that Joseph, Mary and the baby born in the manger leave Egypt and head for Nazareth.

Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophet from Jeremiah 31:15

Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophet: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

God’s grace in the New Testament:

He saves his people by bringing a Messianic deliverer from Egypt.

From the tears of a murder plot, an escape, and the execution of a murder plot God brings hope. Hope in the form of a Savior who “became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

Real tears.

Real hope.

 In the midst of your tears there is hope.

God is not ignorant of your pain or tears. Rather, in the mist of your pain and tears comes a Savior.  As Matthew has already told us in chapter one – Jesus saves us from our sin. Jesus is God with us.  May we celebrate Jesus this Christmas.

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