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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Jesus and the Migrant Crisis

 

WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Jesus doesn’t fit your political narrative

by Nicole Russell

| December 23, 2018 08:00 AM

 

Since the migrant crisis in Europe began in 2015, it has become a common occurrence to see religious figures and publications combine incorrect theology with the political narrative of the day. For example, Pope Francis recently tweeted this:

Others have said similar things in recent months:

Whether evangelical or Catholic, many denominations try to encourage Americans to be friendlier toward migrants or refugees by insinuating that they should be like Jesus — and after all, Jesus himself was a refugee. This is entirely false and not only that, but this bizarre focus on Jesus as a “refugee” misses the entire point of the Gospel.

First, the concept that Jesus might have been a refugee comes from the fact that He was born in a stable after His parents, Joseph and Mary, could not find any room in the inn, following a lengthy journey from Nazareth, via donkey, to Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph were not going to Bethlehem because they had no home, nor did Joseph lack relatives in Bethlehem. The reason he went, and that there was no place to stay, is because the Caesar was a greedy, demanding ruler who demanded everyone return to their hometowns to participate in the census: “All went to be registered, each to his own town” (Luke 2:3).

I’m not saying the journey was pleasant and not without peril, and indeed, following Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph feared for Jesus’ life because King Herod wanted to kill him. This wasn’t as much a political agenda as a personal one: Herod didn’t want another king to take his spot. The family fled to Egypt until Herod died. But even this did not make Jesus a refugee in the sense that he was seeking respite from political persecution, although I can sometimes see where people might interpret it that way. The Bible says in Matthew 2:15: “[Jesus] remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.'”

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus did not travel to Bethlehem or ultimately flee to Egypt fearing persecution or seeking asylum status. They originally went to Bethlehem because Rome demanded it and they fled because they wanted to evade Herod’s thumb — this also fulfilled prophecy.

The larger and more important picture is that Jesus was not some kind of victim, wandering in utero with his parents all over the Middle East just searching for a place to be born. Christians believe God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, sovereignly in control of all world events: from the donkey Mary rode to Bethlehem on to the fact that there was no room in the inn.

This is not a political statement but a spiritual truth to the Jews and the Gentiles of the world: A savior has been born. He has come from humble beginnings, but He will save His people from their sins. Without the simple humility of the idea that even the savior had no place to rest His head, His incredible sacrifice later on the cross would be difficult to accept. Still, because He was God in the flesh and was willing to become fully human — without which atonement for sins could not have occurred because a perfect deity cannot atone for sins — the gift of salvation is that much more a picture of grace.

This does not mean Jesus does not care about refugees or Middle Easterners more than he cares about Americans or atheists. It just means that the story of salvation is far bigger and more incredible than any political narrative, on the Left or on the Right.

Nicole Russell (@russell_nm) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota.

 

 

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