One of the reasons there are four gospel accounts and not just one is that each writer had a different particular audience in mind as he wrote. Matthew was especially interested in demonstrating to a Jewish audience that the life and work of Jesus fulfilled the proclamations of their prophets. In today's segment, Matthew indicates four prophetic fulfillments. Matthew is telling us that God has a plan. That plan began to be revealed through the ancient Hebrew prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and that plan came to a head in Jesus Christ. Jesus is a surprising fulfillment because the previous 'words' from God's mouthpieces needed some interpretation. And no one had the breadth or boldness of imagination to interpret those words as radically as God would flesh them out. Can THIS one, this stable-born Nazarene, this "Joshua Carpenter," really be the Son of God?
God has a plan for each one of us, too. I must say that I have not had the breadth or boldness of imagination to predict that plan for me - where it would take me, what it would have me do, and experience and suffer. Michael Card wrote the lyrics, "There is a joy in the journey ... there is a wonder and wildness to life ..." Yes, life is wild, and God is a bit wild. No, strike that. Not "a bit wild," God is thoroughly wild. No one tames Him. Although we try. We try to size Him down; a God we can handle. One we don't have to think too hard about or wrestle with. A God who is god-on-our-terms.
But then what do you do with Matthew 2:13-18, the "Slaughter of the Innocents?" God has a plan and the power to preserve the Christ of His plan, but He doesn't preserve the lives of these infants and toddlers? Their mothers must weep inconsolably? Didn't God foresee this in His planning session?
God has a plan. But it is a wild, unpredictable, too big to handle, MUST-be-wrestled-with plan. A plan we must think hard on on God's terms. If Jesus' birth is good news of great joy, then what do we tell Rachel in Ramah? The virgin Mary would soon join Rachel in her maternal grief, having pondered all these things long and hard in her heart. We must meditate long, hard and deep also if we are to begin to grasp it.
This is what God has planned -- for all of us, from the beginning until now: to know Him. To grab on and grapple with this Wild Thing to grasp the meaning of life by it. Not a tame life, not a one-third scale life, not a god-on-our-terms, easy to handle life. But to know how to live in the midst of the unimaginable, the homicidal, and inconsolable. Life where faithfulness and holiness are valued above liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What does God have planned for you for 2011? Good news of great joy? Yes. Trials to form your faith? Yes. Glimpses of glory to inspire holiness? Yes. Losses to grieve your soul? That, too.
God's plan is wilder than we imagine. So is the joy of its fulfillment.
Pray: Lord, take me where you want to take me this year. Do with me whatever you see fit. Just don't let me put you on a pillow in the corner of my couch where I can pet you as and when I will. I will have no domesticated God this year. Take me to the place of sanctification. Form Jesus in me at any cost.