Following Jesus includes times of great joy and wonder. Imagine what Joseph felt as he watched the wise men present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, worshiping the baby Jesus!
That mountaintop moment with the wise men’s worship was soon a wonderful memory. And Joseph’s delight turned to anxiety when he had to flee the country in order to protect Jesus from the murderous King Herod.
As followers of Jesus, we will sometimes face circumstances that require us to flee. Scripture warns us to flee sexual immorality, flee idolatry, and to flee greed. Some things we do not hazard. But when we submit to God, Satan will flee from us!
When the paranoid King Herod realized that the wise men had slipped away without telling him Jesus’ whereabouts, he was enraged. He had all the baby boys in Bethlehem aged two years and younger slaughtered. How tragic for the families in that small town. . . .
Following Jesus does not mean that we will avoid all the sadness of this dark and broken world. We will experience times of mourning and times of questioning. But we do not mourn as the world mourns. We mourn without losing faith in God’s goodness.
Herod died. Joseph could safely bring Jesus and Mary back to Israel. But instead of returning to Bethlehem, God led the young family to Nazareth, a town of very little renown.
Why would God choose such a despised place for the upbringing of the Messiah, our Savior? God has a preference for using people, places and things that look small and unimportant in order to win great victories. In doing so, he focuses attention on his mighty power.
There may be seasons when we feel weak and small. At times we may think ourselves to be incapable of doing much at all. But our Lord Jesus assumed humble beginnings, despised and rejected by men, yet he won the victory.
From Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth, Joseph was directed by God’s angel. We too may flee, mourn and feel small. But when we follow God’s Spirit, he will direct us so that we can share in his inevitable triumph.
May God’s Holy Spirit inspire and enable us to follow him faithfully this year,
Brother Richard Foster