Jesus goes to Egypt

Published 8:53 am Saturday, December 28, 2013

by Brandon Robbins

There is an almost-forgotten story in the Bible that is just as much a part of the Christmas story as the manger, the shepherds and the wise men.

Some time after Jesus is born – some believe it was days, others believe it was years – King Herod decrees that every boy living in Bethlehem under the age of two be killed. He does this in response to the news that the Messiah, this newborn king, the greatest threat to his reign, has finally arrived. Fortunately for Jesus’ sake, Mary and Joseph are warned by an angel about this impending slaughter and have just enough time to flee before the massacre begins.

For the next few years (at least, we assume it was that long), they begin their life as a family together in Egypt. Nothing is said of what happens while they are there, or even how long they are there. The Bible simply tells us that once the threat passes, they return to Nazareth, a place that Jesus will consider his hometown for the rest of his life.

Just imagine how Mary and Joseph must have felt as they fled their country and their family. Just imagine what it must have been like to realize that the king wanted to hunt down and kill their child.

Whenever I read this passage, it reminds me of a very sobering and humbling truth: Christmas doesn’t end on Dec. 25.

For so many of us, the past month or so has been a season of extra-ordinary kindness. In a manner uncommon to us throughout the rest of the year, we show generosity, forgiveness and love to the people around us – sometimes even to perfect strangers.

This year, our church, Courtland United Methodist Church, was blessed with an exciting response to our Christmas offering. Because of the generosity of people in and beyond our church, over the next year we’re going to be able to change countless lives through support for our food ministries, our efforts with the Courtland Community Center, an upcoming mission trip for our youth, and people in need within our own church. Every year, I’m amazed by just how wonderful people can be this time of year.

But, again, Christmas doesn’t end on Dec. 25. And this is all the more reason to remember that.

The truth is, it’s a lot easier for us to love at Christmas. Peace and joy fill the air. We’re reminded at every turn about the need to care for and comfort our brothers and sisters in need. And so we do. We buy toys for families who can’t afford them. We provide Christmas meals for the hungry. We find ourselves more inclined to give a few extra dollars to the stranger who approaches us on the street.

But what about after Christmas? The reality is that sorrow and pain don’t need to be relieved only one day a year. Or even one month a year.

While Mary and Joseph may have received the much-needed kindness of a stable on the night of Jesus’ birth, what about when they arrived in Egypt? Who helped them there? They had no family, no relatives in the region. On whose kindness did they survive then? Could they have possibly made it through that trying period if all those around them said, “I’m sorry, we helped last month”? So, does it make any more sense for us to say those words 2,000 years later?

In the Bible, Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. We are God’s hope in the midst of darkness, sadness, loneliness and emptiness. We are given the privilege and the ability to bring relief to the sick, the hungry, the jobless, the homeless and the helpless not just once a year, but all of the time.

So this week, as Christmas fades and the new year dawns, may you count the blessings God has placed before you in the past few weeks. May you celebrate all that God was able to do through your kindness and generosity this season. And may you determine not to allow that to be the exception, but the norm in your life, that the spirit of Christmas and the hope of Jesus may not change the world just once a year, but forevermore.

BRANDON ROBBINS is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or