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God on the Run!

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“The Flight into Egypt.”  Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus flee into Egypt.

The cruel King Herod had been threatened by the birth of Jesus, apparently fearing that Jesus would become a competitor for his own crown. Since that was an intolerable possibility to him, and since he could not be absolutely sure which baby boy was Jesus, he ordered that all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two-years old or under be killed. Thus it was that an angel of the Lord directed Joseph to take Jesus and Mary and to “flee to Egypt.”

Can you imagine it? God on the run! Jesus, the Christ, fleeing for his life!… He is running for his life…

If this scene is shocking for you — and I confess that it is still shocking to me — then hold on, for there is more to come. We can imagine Joseph escaping into Egypt with the baby Jesus. But, surely, we think, if Jesus were only a full-grown man, he would not run from Herod. The evidence, however, does not completely support that thought.

There were times, even as an adult, when Jesus ran away. During the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem one winter, some people wanted Jesus to tell them “plainly” if he was, indeed, the Christ. 

When Jesus answered, “I and the Father are one,” they took up stones to stone him. We read, “Again they tried to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands” (John 10:39). Notice that word, “again’’ is used. Apparently Jesus had to run away on other occasions, too.

There is no getting away from it: Christmas tells us that God chose to make himself vulnerable when he revealed himself in a person who, sometimes, at least, had to run away from people like Herod and the stone-throwers.

Please do not make the mistake of thinking that the vulnerability of Jesus is a bad thing. It is not! It is a tremendous thing. 

In fact, it is the greatest thing in the world. For we are saved by a Christ who “took the form of a servant . . . and humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” What men called “the weakness of God” was “the power of God unto salvation.” 

It is a Christ who was willing to risk becoming as vulnerable as we are, who is able to save us from sin by identifying with our human condition and showing us the way back to fellowship with God.

The vulnerability of Christ is a great thing also because it makes it easier for us to admit our own vulnerability. We may like to think that we are super men and women, but we are not. There are powers and people who can hurt us and destroy us. There are times when we need to run away! 

You see, running away is not always cowardice as many of us have been taught to believe. Running away, at times, may he part of a very wise strategy. As the old saying goes: “He who runs away lives to fight another day.”

There are times, of course, when we cannot run away. There are times when we must not run away. There are times when running away is cowardice. Jesus did not run away from his betrayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. There are times when we must stand our ground, no matter what the cost.

Nevertheless, there are other times when it is wise to run away. Timing has a lot to do with it. So do our intentions about returning. For after the time of running away, there should always be a time of returning.

Thanks again to John Thomas Randolph for these words.

What do YOU think about Jesus running away at times and then Jesus not running away to save his own life in the Garden of Gethsemane?


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