We live in a world that is confused about God, the Bible, and the person of Jesus Christ. This confusion shows up in many areas, and even finds its way in current events, culture, and the political climate. So many positions, so many voices, and so many causes. So much confusion, so much pain, and so much anger. Our world is lost, and seeking answers. One of those causes has to do with the displacement of people due to various factors such as war, disasters & poverty. Some are forced to live in other countries, and some go proactively. These people are commonly referred to refugees or immigrants. The issue is a firestorm these days.
This post is not really about refugees or about the best solution for taking care of refugees, and illegal immigration. It is about the person of Jesus, and who He is in regards to this issue. One area of confusion about Jesus is to see the statement “Jesus was a Refugee” displayed on a sign or in a hashtag. The person communicating this might be an atheist, spiritual or they might profess to be a Christian. But, the point of their message is simple. To either persuade Christians to be more supportive regarding refugees & immigrants coming to the U.S. or as ammunition to attack Christians for not going along with their ideologies, and agendas. The latter seems to be the more common use.
In some cases, they will even use bible verses such as Matthew 10:13-15 to support their claim that Jesus was a refugee.
13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” 14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
This seems to meet the textbook definition of a refugee which is “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.” So there you have it, done deal. Right! Well, not so fast.
That is because Jesus & His family seeking refuge in another region is not the point of the passage. Joseph is not merely reacting to the threat of persecution. There is something supernatural going on in which God directs Joseph, and Joseph responds to God in obedience. The bigger question is who is Jesus?
You see Jesus is not just a person, but He is the Incarnate Word. Jesus is fully human & fully God. We also have to keep in mind that Jesus is also the Messiah; the One that would one day come to deliver the Jewish people. Through out the entire Old Testament there are prophets speaking for God and indicators that would point to who the Messiah would be. The moment Jesus is born the Old Testament prophesies start to become fulfilled. And the act of Joseph fleeing with Mary & Jesus to Egypt is used to fulfill one of those prophesies! The prophet Hosea recounted how God had faithfully brought Israel out of Egypt in the exodus (Hos. 2:15), which Matthew cites in comparing Israel, God’s “son,” being rescued and delivered, to Jesus, the One who will be revealed as God’s true Son. Which the Jewish people were waiting for! They didn’t have the luxury of New Testament, and the plethora of knowledge we have today. They had indicators and again this one just of many to help point the Jewish people (and rest of humanity) to Jesus, and that He was truly the Messiah.
So the passage has greater, and eternal significance than we can immediately see.
I will say personally it is a good thing for people to advocate for refugees & immigrants, that laws should be upheld/followed and Christians should approach the issue with grace, and compassion. I can understand the desire or need for people come to our country. From my perspective America is the best country in the world, and has been a beacon of hope & opportunity since it’s birth. I myself am here because my father came over illegally from Mexico. That’s another story!
But, Jesus & the Bible should never be used as propaganda to further someone’s political views or purposes especially when they neither know Jesus and/or have a hatred toward God. You can’t say the bible is a fairy tale book, and use then use it to make Christians feel guilt or shame.
More importantly, what is the greatest need we all have? We should remind ourselves, and each other of the gospel. While refugees or immigrants have the need or desire to be in America (for example) their greatest need isn’t physical salvation, but spiritual. That humanities hope doesn’t lie in the USA, a political party, or in government. It is only in Christ that eternal security, hope, and assurance is found. That Jesus is not a mere person that needed saving, but is the One who saves. That Jesus is not as a refugee, but our refuge from sin, and death. This needs to be the message.