Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23:
When [the magi] 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.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 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.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
In this corner, Herod! The King of Jerusalem! Power hungry, jealous, willing to do anything to keep his power. Armed soldiers at his command. He knew that a King, one who would take away his power given the chance, had been born. He knew where this infant royalty had been born. And he wasn’t afraid to use his power against a child.
In the other corner, a father, a mother, an infant child, blissfully unaware of the dangers lurking.
To earthly eyes, it appears that Jesus will be snuffed out, long before his big day at Golgotha. But what does God do?
He sends an angel to warn Joseph. “Hey, get outta town! The king’s trying to kill Jesus. Get to safety!” Joseph obeys! And after a while, the angel returns to Joseph. “Hey, go home! Herod’s dead. He can’t hurt you any more!”
And Joseph obeys! And then, suddenly, he screeches to a halt. Herod’s boy is reigning in Jerusalem, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Joseph is afraid. And in this way, he reminds me of us. We know how God has saved us in the past, but when a new danger appears, the fear and worry takes over again. It takes an angel to come and say, “Hey, listen, you’re fine. Go home to Nazareth. You don’t have to be afraid. You’re safe.” And Joseph, calmed by the message, goes to Nazareth, where Jesus grows up in safety.
It’s the same way today. If God could protect a peasant family back then, he can protect you now. If God could control nations back then, he can and does control them now.
Out there, all you see is Santa, or people tearing down their Christmas decorations. You don’t see Jesus!
But God has shown you that Christmas is about him making you his children through his Child. And he promises to keep that Word alive. The world may try to destroy the Christmas message, the blessing of Immanuel, God with us, but God laughs at the nations. He preserves his Word, despite the world’s best efforts to extinguish that message. He keeps you in the one true faith, despite the world’s attempts to mock you into submission.
The world plots and conspires to smother Jesus, just as it did back when he was an infant. But just as God did then, now God laughs at them.