Christmas Devotion - Day 1919-12-2018 | Matthew Campbell | YOUTH
READ Matthew 2:17-18
17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
For many people, what truly makes Christmas a special time of year is that it's a season of homecoming. Perhaps you can relate to this. Maybe you have siblings, children or friends who work /study overseas, and so Christmas is the only time of year when everyone comes home and all your close friends / family are together in one place. Indeed, many of the classic Christmas songs pick up on this idea. Think of, 'driving home for Christmas' or 'I'll be home for Christmas,' to name a few. People coming home is one aspect of Christmas which makes it so special.
In a recent sermon from Dr Cowan at Union Theological College, I was reminded of how Matthew's Gospel picks up on this idea of 'homecoming' at Christmas. However, in this morning's passage, Matthew wants to remind you that the true homecoming to celebrate this Christmas isn't that of your family members or friends; rather, it is the fact that Jesus has brought us home to God! This is a spiritual homecoming!
Hopefully you remember where we left off in yesterday's devotion. The wise men had informed Herod of the birth of Christ and so Herod, out of jealousy and fear, sent out a decree that all baby boys in Bethlehem must be murdered. Knowing this was going to happen, God told Joseph to take his wife and newborn son to Egypt.
As Matthew retells this story, you will notice that he reflects on an old testament passage in verses 17 and 18. The passage which Matthew is referring to is from Jeremiah 31. In it, God's people are given hope in spite of their continual rebellion and abandoning of God's law. It comes at a dark point in Israel's history, with them having been exiled to Babylon as a result of God's judgement on them. The place 'Ramah' mentioned in verse 18 was about 10 miles from Bethlehem. It is the place where Rachel was buried in the book of Genesis as she mourned over the sin of Israel. However, In Jeremiah 31, Rachel's weeping soon gives way to great joy. God would tell her to wipe her tears away due to the fact that he was going to deliver his people. They would be brought home from exile.
As Matthew picks up on this old testament reference, he is showing his reader that the real deliverance for God's people wasn’t in their release from exile in Babylon. Rather, the real deliverance is brought about through this Messiah. The real homecoming isn't the people of Israel making their way back into the land of Israel. No, the real homecoming was God bringing sinful people back to himself through the person of Jesus Christ.
Praise God today that, although you were 'exiled' in your sin, because of Christ, you have been brought home. The broken relationship between God and man has now been restored. The message to Rachel in Jeremiah 31, in light of the promised homecoming, was that it should bring her great joy. Indeed, this is the emotion that should be stirred up in our hearts as we celebrate the ultimate homecoming brought about for us in the person of Jesus Christ.
Questions for reflection:
1) Where in your life do you find yourself wondering astray like the people of Israel?
2) How does the idea that 'Jesus brings us home' give you a greater appreciate for his coming this Christmas?
3) This homecoming was announced to Rachel in Jeremiah 31 as a means of comfort and joy, so she should 'wipe away her tears.' How does this great homecoming accomplished by Jesus encourage you amidst your struggles today?
Prayer for today:
God, thank you that you didn't leave me as an orphan, spiritually exiled from you. I praise you that, this Christmas, I can be reminded that the work of Jesus brings me back home. I ask that, like Rachel in Jeremiah 31, this truth would bring comfort and help me to wipe away my tears. Like most homecomings, may you help me to celebrate mine with joy and gladness this Christmas.