“Out of Egypt have I called my son.”


Matthew 2

File:Rembrandt van Rijn, Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt.jpg

Rembrandt, The Rest on The Flight into Egypt

15“Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

These are profound words. Frightful words. Tragic and exulting words.

The people of Israel were God’s ‘son’. He fathered them through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He gathered them out from Egypt. He made a covenant with them at Sinai. He led them through the wilderness into a new land. He guided them through the prophets. He delivered them through the judges and the kingship of Saul and David. The people of Israel were God’s first born.

“Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Matthew is quoting Hosea 11. There God speaks his anguish over his faithless son, his rebellious people, who constantly look to the gods of Canaan, who put their trust in the gods of fertility and abundance, who give their allegiance to money, sex and power.

“Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

It is not only Israel that wanders from the path. It is, indeed, the whole human story. But the people of Israel were God’s ‘son’, God’s adopted, the heirs of all God’s promises through whom God would bring blessing and life to his whole rebelling creation. How shall salvation enter into the creation if God’s people are faithless? How shall the earth be healed? How shall the wars and greeds that are the painful norms come to an end if there is no faithful son?

The flight of the holy family to Egypt is not just a dramatic plot twist in the narrative, or a fulfillment of ancient prophecy; it is a profound declaration. The one who is before us, the one from the line of David whose birth was announced by angels, the stars, and holy writ – the one who is before us is the faithful son. He embodies the story of Israel, but to a different ending. Kings seek to destroy him as Pharaoh sought to destroy Israel. He goes down into Egypt and is led back by God just as the people of Israel went down and were brought back. But this Jesus will be faithful. He will be God’s agent of healing and redemption. He will place his trust in God and not his own wisdom and understanding. When tested in the wilderness he will remain faithful to God’s word. When tested before the cross, he will seek God’s will not his own.

“Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Jesus travels the path we have not traveled. He has loved with a complete love. He has forgiven even his tormentors. He has done justice and mercy to the least of these. He has regarded all as members of his own household.

“Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

With this simple line all Matthew’s readers hear the sermon Haggai spoke. They know the charge against them – and they recognize what is being said of Jesus. He is the faithful son; in him blessing comes to the world; in him the universe is healed.

And we are healed.


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