A child is assembling a brand new wagon in his yard, a gift. But he eschews all help from his parents. When a neighborhood friend stops by, he brags up his new toy, half assembled on the lawn. Examining the chaotic scene before her, she notices the instructions far off to the side of the yard, obviously discarded and unopened. “Hey, aren’t you following the instructions?”
“Nope. Don’t need ’em. I can put it together all by myself,” he pronounces proudly.
After observing further and recognizing her presence was neither necessary nor welcome, she wanders on to another friend’s house. Catching up on the morning’s happenings, she concludes her narrative about the boy and his wagon this way:
“I guess he thinks he knows that wagon better than the person who designed it!” (story by Gilbert V. Beers)
“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.”
Matthew 2:14 & 15
Matthew is here taking great pains to display Jesus’ credentials, the many ways in which His fulfilled prophecies recorded in the Old Testament. But here I think we also get a telling display of Jesus’ humanity.
When Joseph left for Bethlehem, it wasn’t a quick There And Back Again trip. We read when the leave Bethlehem that Herod is looking for boys 2 years old and younger. It is likely Joseph took the tools of his trade with him and found whatever work he could while there. And also likely the same happened in Egypt, though with the added difficulty of being both a stranger and a foreigner.
“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.“
400 years of slavery in a foreign country was meant to mark the Israelites with a special kind of compassion for foreigners in their midst. But where that lesson failed to sink in for them, it sticks for Jesus. He undergoes the self same pilgrimage, his father earning their way as a migrant worker and comes out “growing in favor with God and men” as Luke puts it.
Growing up in a foreign country. Learning carpentry from his father. Losing his father. His Heavenly Father losing Him. He knows all the aches and pains that are attendant with life in this world. He is in fact, much better acquainted with suffering that most of us reading this blog, myself included.
So why hide our hurt and frustration from Him? Humanity is no surprise to Him. His life was full to the brim with the stuff.
“I am just like the alien
The fatherless and the widow
Keep Your watch over me
Sustain the life in me
Frustrate the ways of every wicked man
Let me inside Your home
Father defend my cause
Plead for my case and my innocence”
~From Alien by Third Day
Lord, you know me. You have been a truer person that I have ever. Show me how to live.