Insignificant People, their Sorrows, and The God who Cares For Them

Scholars have stared incredulously at Matthew 2:16-18 because the text possesses no parallel in the writings of Josephus or any other ancient historian. But the absence of a story does not prove it did not occur. Matthew’s story matches the sentiment of Josephus’s narratives which recount Herod’s murder of his second wife, his assignation of three of his sons, and the wrongful execution of the families of his political opponents. Hours before his death, Herod also ordered his family to kill a group of prominent Jewish leaders the moment cruel king breathed his last so that Jerusalem would mourn at his death. The violence described in Matthew 2 aligns with Josephus’s description of the troubled monarch.

The fact that the deaths of around twenty children from an insignificant town of about 1000 people failed to make it into the annuals of a secular history is not surprising. Rather it is the point. The history of God’s mercy is not tied to the history of secular power.  

The Proof of God’s Care

The events that prove significant for the people of God often occur in the Bethlehems of the world out of the view of the power, politics, and prestige which reside in Jerusalem. God saw the tears of those families long ago that escaped the notice of Josephus. He still sees the tears of his little people. He knows the grief of the traumatized teenager who was abused, of the single mom who was overwhelmed, and of the old man who has been left a widow. Though all of these and thousands of other souls walk the streets of life unknown to the world of politics, power, and fame, God knows them. More importantly, he left heaven to redeem them from this broken world.

Though our tears, sorrows, and griefs are real, they are not the end of our story because they are not the end of Jesus’s story. The prophet Jeremiah reminded those mothers long ago, “There is hope for your future…and your children shall come back (Jer. 31:17).” While Jesus escaped the murderous hatred of Herod, he would too would one day be pinned unjustly to a cross, dying for crimes he did not commit. But he would not stay dead. After three days in the tomb, Christ burst forth, breaking the bonds of sin and death and offering salvation to all those who repented and believed. In other words, He triumphed over death so that Rachel’s children could return. Those babies in Bethlehem that fateful night now reside with Christ in heaven. One day soon, they will reside in the new heavens and the new earth. Their sorrow was only the beginning of a much larger story that ends with men and women from every tribe gathered together in heaven praising God in a land free of tears, sickness, and sorrow. God sees the grief that millions of people secretly suffer. Jesus comes and suffers under that same grief so that he can once and for all rescue us from this broken world. The words of Jeremiah 31:3 ring ever true: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

In Christ, there are no insignificant people. There are no insignificant sorrows. Christ died the for babies in Bethlehem. He died for you. Place your hope in Him! We will all be home soon!

The Aroma of the Gospel Will Refresh Your Soul

the hope of the believerOur souls breathe better when the air contains the aroma of good news.

But we seldom have the opportunity to breathe such wonderful air. If we are honest, the air we breathe often contains no blessed smell. Our noses know only the stinks of rotting relationships, crummy bank accounts, and guilty consciences that drift up from the basements of our dark hearts.

Naturally, we want the smells gone and light the candles of social media, major news outlets, and human friendship. But as the sounds of the T.V. flood into our ears and the images on our phones capture our eyes, the foul smells of discouragement do not dissipate. They grow because the world is filled with broken people who disagree with our political, economic, and social choices.

John Kransinski of “The Office” fame has tried to counter all foulness of the world with his 15-20 news segments appropriately label “The Good New Network.” He fills the air with positive stories, impromptu weddings, and an overall fun helping of positive goodness. Though delightful, these moments fail to knock out the fouls smells that enrapture our hearts.

We need a stronger, longer lasting aroma. We need the good news of Jesus Christ.

The author of Psalm 107 directs us to that everlasting hope when he calls us to,

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good for his steadfast love endures forever!

And it is not just a hope we passively consume with our eyes and nose; it is a hope we joyfully proclaim to the world with our mouth. The redeemed are to join in on the good news network of Jesus Christ. They are to proclaim the goodness of God, highlighting the great value of public singing, praying, and proclamation. Though pastors should preach, the beauty of the church consists not of one person proclaiming the gospel but of the whole church proclaiming the gospel. Indeed, let the redeemed say so.

Why is the gospel so great?

Why does the aroma of Jesus have such staying power? The aroma of Jesus fills our souls with hope because it is a hope of personal salvation that addresses our sins and every human struggle. God does not save us and then leave us until we get to heaven Heaven. Jesus stays intimately involved in our earthly lives.The redeemed praise God because God has saved them from homelessness, oppression, sickness, and storms. To relight hope in our hearts, we do not need the social media plugins, we need the candle of gospel remembrance.

“He has redeemed them from trouble and gathered them in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.”

To remove the odors of uncertainty, fear, dread, and boredom that stink up our lives, we need to remember the saving power of God. We need to contemplate God’s wondrous works of redemption expressed through his divine justice.

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.