ODJ: Jesus the Refugee

December 12, 2017 

READ: Matthew 2:13-21 

Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother (v.13).

In recent years, the refugee crisis has shocked the world over. Images like that of three year old Kurdish boy Alan Kurdi, his lifeless body washed onto the shore after the refugees’ inflatable rubber boat capsized, horrified us. Too often, however, outrage has yielded little action. A year after his son’s death, Alan’s father told reporters: “Everyone claimed they wanted to do something because of the photo that touched them so much. But what is happening now? People are still dying and nobody is doing anything about it.”

As we grapple with the terrors refugees face, we ought to consider an often-ignored facet to the biblical story: Jesus was a refugee. Facing the political upheaval and violence inflicted by Herod’s regime, God told Joseph to gather up the few belongings they could and “flee to Egypt . . . because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (v.13). That very night “Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary” (v.14). In Egypt, Joseph and Mary endured the long wait, far from home, until news arrived that Herod was dead and they could safely return (v.20).

I wonder if Mary, Joseph and Jesus encountered compassion in Egypt. I wonder if they found people with open arms and open hearts. I wonder what kind of welcome those fleeing Syria or Iraq or Yemen find now, with us. Obviously, the politics of such matters are complex, and we do face difficult questions about safety. However, as followers of Jesus—the One who surrendered His own life for the love of the world—safety can’t be our primary concern.

Jesus knows intimately the plight of the refugee and He knows what it feels like to need welcome, friendship and shelter. What does Jesus ask of us now?

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: 1 Timothy 6:3-21

Read Deut. 10:18. How did God instruct His people to respond to “foreigners”? 
Take time this week to research and learn the details of one refugee story. What do you believe a Christ-like response to this issue should be?