The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

2nd Sunday after Christmas January 5, 2013

 

Matthew 2:13-23 Where Are You Taking Me Now, Lord?

 

Dear fellow redeemed:

It's not easy focusing on your future when you're on the run.

* So the story is told of a Dr. Richard Kimble who's accused of murdering his wife and is

later tried and convicted.

* On his way to be executed, the train on which he's traveling crashes and he escapes.

His only chance of proving his innocence is to find the one-armed man he saw

running from his home the evening his wife was killed.

* The fugitive, you'll remember, was a TV. series in the 60s, eventually made into a movie.

Mr. Kimble must keep a low profile in order to avoid being spotted by the police.

He must remain on the run.

* Unfortunately, from one day to the next, he has little idea where he'll end up.

Where will tomorrow's lead take him?

 

So the story is told of the Christ-child. Why should he have to run? He's innocent!

* It might have seemed like a very logical question for Joseph to ask in his son's behalf.

Where Are You Taking Me Now, Lord? This isn't any kind of life for God's Son!

* "Are we ever going to be able settle down?"

First there was the long trek to Bethlehem. Now they were to head to Egypt.

Where would it be tomorrow or the next day?

* But Joseph would have to wait a while longer for the answer.

They must stay where they are until he's told it's safe to move on.

 

The same story is often told about your life.

Within a very short time you undergo several course changes.

1 You didn't ask for it, but your obligations at work change. You have to put in more hours.

Or you're pressured to retire before you're ready. "What am I going to do now?" you ask.

2 A short time later, your living situation changes.

You have to care for your father who's no longer able to live alone.

3 A little more time passes and it's you losing a sense of independence.

You're told it's time to move into a smaller home.

* You wonder why your family no longer trusts that you know what you're doing.

"I can still pay my bills! I can still drive! I can still cook and clean house!"

* And all the while, all you have to go on is your Christian instruction and upbringing

which tells you to remain tuned into God's Word.

* If you don't, your next turn in life could prove shameful or disastrous.

* You must listen to your Lord, so that you may cope with life's next change in course.

But sometimes we don't understand the latest course change.

* In fact, if we didn't know better, it might seem that a change in course is the last thing we

need right now. It seems more like the Lord is running from a fight.

* Joseph is told in a dream, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt . . .

Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."

* Well, that's a troubling thought. But why not stand up to this power hungry king?

Wouldn't the fact that the Lord wants Joseph and his family to flee suggest either that he

doesn't have the power to stop evil Herod, or that he's not interested in taking him on?

 

Naturally, we know better on both counts.

* The God we believe in is both gracious and all-powerful.

That means he'll always help us poor sinners. Never does the Bible suggest that God

cannot, or that he's responsible for the misfortune and suffering we experience.

* Yes, the rest of the boys in Bethlehem under the age of two were destroyed.

But it wasn't God who was responsible for their ruthless slaying.

It was King Herod. Man and his sins are always responsible for the misery in this world.

* Yes God permits suffering. But that doesn't mean there's not a good explanation.

Often times we simply need to wait for a complete answer why.

* For now we simply believe what the Bible teaches, that God is so powerful, he can use

the same suffering to serve us.

* And of course that's just what he did, beginning not with anyone's son but with his own

Son, Jesus Christ, who took our place and received the suffering we deserved for our sin.

 

The Lord also uses our suffering.

* But sometimes we want to know why a little sooner. Sometimes waiting for a complete

answer to where are you taking me now is quite a challenge.

* We can imagine what might have been going through Joseph's mind at this time.

A second time now, an angel appears to him in a dream.

* First he's told he can take Mary as his wife even though she's with child.

Now he's told to take this child and his mother and flee to Egypt. "Remain there until I

tell you." "Stay put" he's told, "until I reveal where I'm taking you next.

* Do you think Joseph might question all this? Travel to this foreign country strapped with

this child who's not of his own flesh and blood.

* Care for Mary's child who's like a ticking time bomb.

What if Herod should learn of their latest location? Then what?!

 

 

I'm sure there were times when Joseph wondered where God would direct him next.

But he never lost confidence that God knew what he was doing.

* The truth was, even though the young Christ would be threatened more than once, his

Father would watch over his life from the day he was born until the day he died for us.

* This becomes increasingly clear the further we get into the story about Christ.

Until Jesus achieved what he came to this world to do, nothing would happen to his life.

* God was in total control over the events that governed the life of his Son.

 

And what this wonderful story teaches us is that God is in just as much control of our lives.

If it's unclear where our life is heading, we may be sure, like Joseph, that he'll get back to us.

* He does so in his Word. There we stay tuned for God's assurance.

As he guided the events which threatened the life of his only Son, so he promises to guide

our life's events.

* As he saw that no harm would come in the direction of the Christ Child, so will no harm

finds its way into our lives to change the course he's chosen for us.

* "He will not let your foot slip..." we're assured in the Psalm.

"The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life."

 

Needless to say, life's setbacks may cause us to doubt this comforting truth.

* We know God was watching over his Son because of his role as our Savior.

* But what about my loved ones?

1 Shall I stay tuned to his Word after my father is killed by some rare form of cancer?

2 Or there's my husband who's too young to retire after the company went bankrupt.

What now?

3 Or there's my grandson who met the wrong woman, and whose life hasn't been on the

same track since.

4 Or there's me! You say he's guiding my life?

Why hasn't God led me to the right work or the right doctor or the right advice?

* What do you have to say to me, Lord? Christ will make my life better?!

Just stay the course?!

* We may find it easy to relate with Joseph.

We wonder if getting ready for God to speak won't be hazardous to our health.

* You want to take my life around another turn?!

After what I've been through, God has something more to tell me?!

* I don't know. Maybe it's time I'm that final word.

"If God's not going to improve my life, I guess it's time I find my own way."

 

If we're having such thoughts, let's take a second look at today's text.

Our latest course change, you see, isn't about God. It's about us.

* What about our setbacks? What about our sufferings?

What about those missed opportunities? What about life's tragedies?

* What do they teach us about ourselves?

1 "Well, I guess they teach us that we have as little control over what happens one hour

from now or one day from now as we do over what happens one year from now."

2 "They teach us what fragile beings we are."

3 "They teach us that in this crazy world of ours sin messes everything up."

* That's right! And as a result, these same unfortunate incidents teach us that we need

someone who can deliver us from sin and its effects.

* In other words, by showing us our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, these same sad

events in life show us how much we need God.

 

Most people today, of course, don't acknowledge their need for God.

* Most people, in fact, want to get rid of God.

Like Herod, people fear God's authority. They're afraid of letting him be in charge.

They don't believe God's Word can help them with a better perspective on the future.

* That's why they want to take Christ not just out of our Christmas, but out of our culture,

so that no one has to hear his answer to life's sorrows.

* Unfortunately, they deprive themselves of an answer to the question, "Where Are You

Taking Me Now?!"

 

The answer has to do with the very same Christ child.

* To put it simply, God has one purpose for permitting our life to change course.

He wants to help us focus more closely on Christ's course.

* Notice in today's reading whose plan did not materialize as he hoped.

It was King Herod. The wise men, in his opinion, were supposed to report back to him.

They were to reveal Christ's location. Instead, they traveled back home using another route.

* So, despite their detour, it wasn't their plan that was altered, but the plan of Christ's enemy.

Herod did not get his way. He was tricked.

* Yes. By his cold and calculated massacre, he brought "weeping and loud lamentation" to

Bethlehem.

* But he wasn't able to touch the Christ.

Neither was he able to stop Christ from remaining an influence in this world and our lives.

 

God's uses our detours in life to keep Christ in our life.

* You might think of the two routes you can take home after working all night at the office.

You're feeling exhausted and you don't want to fall asleep.

* You can take the interstate which is straight and flat and definitely quicker.

Or you can take the side roads which have more curves and stoplights.

* Which do you choose?

If you're tired, you might choose that second route. It will do better keeping you awake.

 

Well, that's how the Lord sometimes operates in our lives.

* He never changes our destination, mind you. But to keep us focused on the blessings

Christ earned for us, he does change our course now and then.

* Consider again the angel's words to Joseph. "Rise, take the child and his mother, and

flee to Egypt . . . for Herod is about to search for the Child, to destroy him."

* When you stop and think about that, that's quite interesting.

The Promised Land has become unsafe for God's Son!

Instead Egypt, where God's people suffered for years in bondage and were forced to

work like animals, this is where Christ finds shelter.

 

Interesting! Just maybe it has something to say about your latest suffering.

It won't derail God's plan for your life.

* If Christ should return to Nazareth despite King Herod's best efforts; if God should

protect his only-begotten Son from undesired harm, he'll do the same for you.

* You have his Word on it. God will watch over your life just as he watched over Christ's.

Remember this, no matter what trial or catastrophe finds its way into your life.

Think back on the afflictions sustained by your Savior.

* If God can work good out of the suffering and death of his Son, he can certainly work

good out of any tragic episodes in our lives.

* Whether it be the sudden change in health of a loved one, the never-ending problems at

work; whether we've invested in the wrong friendship, the wrong medical advice, or the

wrong retirement fund, the word that awaits us is the same, and it's the only word we

need.

* As spoken by the apostle: "For we know that in all things God works for the good of

those who love him."

 

It's not easy focusing on your future when you're on the run . . . that is, unless God's Word can

help us make sense of our life's latest course change and where it's taking us.

* And that we may be sure of. Our question needn't be: "Why did God let this happen?"

Or "where are you taking me, now?"

Our question can be: "Why am I here?"

* And what a comforting answer our Lord provides.

"You're here, because Christ died for you and therefore you're worth something to me!

You're here because I have a very special plan for you!"

* "And until I complete that plan in every way you'll remain under my care and watch just

as certainly as did the Christ Child." Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen.