By Nathan Barton
Last commentary I lamented the death of the young Guatemalan girl, while in custody of the Border Patrol in New Mexico. The tragedy, like so many others was a direct result of government policies and actions.
That sad event (and others) may be one reason that this Christmas season has an upsurge of comments comparing the Baby Jesus to 2018 illegal immigrants.
(Disclaimer: I do not celebrate Christmas in a religious way. But I do not deny the right of people to do so. I believe that efforts to drive Christmas out of the public forum or marketplace to be nothing but aggression against those who chose to celebrate it.)
It is claimed that Joseph, Mary, and then Jesus are just earlier-day illegal immigrants, moving for economic and political reasons. So they are just like the hundreds of thousands of border jumpers trying to come north to the USA, or the refugees banging on the doors of Europe by boat or land. And because of that, we are told “Christians” are hypocritical if they insist on border and immigration control.
This comparison is nothing new. What I find odd is that Regressives, here in the Fifty States and elsewhere, usually don’t want Christmas to be in the public eye, but don’t hesitate to try and take advantage of it to push their politics.
One of those, in the past few years, has been the Pope claiming a lack of love and hospitality shown towards the family of Jesus.
This year, another preacher praised God that there was not (yet) a wall on that US-Mexican border. His argument? If there had been a wall in Judea back then, Jesus would have been killed. Others have compared Joseph and family to the mass caravan in Tijuana, or the Guatamalans with the girl who died. And of course, the Border Patrol and Trump are just like Herod and his “guards” (troops) and Roman soldiers. Many others say similar things.
When they do so, all they do is show their ignorance of history. AND they still fail to blame government in general for our current mess – and for that one back in 4 or 6 BC.
Joseph and Mary were NOT homeless, economic, or political refugees, nor illegal immigrants when they went from Nazareth down to Bethlehem that fateful time. Joseph had a successful construction business in Nazareth, in fact. They went to Bethlehem because government officials told them that they had to. The Romans ordered everyone to participate in a census at each man’s birthplace. For Joseph, that was Bethlehem in Judea. Both he and Mary had relatives in the area, probably even in town.
The trip may have been difficult but not uncommon, as we know that at least Mary had traveled to Judea earlier, and while pregnant. (Her cousins Zachariah and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptizer, lived in or near Jerusalem – he worked in the Temple.) And since both Galilee and Judea were all part of Herod’s Kingdom of Judea (and part of the Roman Empire ruled by Augustus), going from Galilee to Judea was roughly equivalent of going from Pennington County to Minnehaha County in South Dakota. No room in the inn? Probably due to the influx come to sit in front of a government official to be counted in the census. Like trying to get a room in Sturgis or Rapid City during Rally.
(By the way, Nazareth was too small to have a wall, but it seems that Bethlehem likely DID have a wall. Jerusalem at the time did have a major wall around the city itself.)
Joseph was obeying a government edict, as no doubt were hundreds or thousands of people. It was not a lack of hospitality that forced them to stay in a stable, but lack of room. No doubt, relatives’ houses were already filled with other relatives! They had to cross no borders or go through any border
walls to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It was not a lack of hospitality or kindliness that caused Jesus to be born in a stable, but simply the fact that there were no hospitals!
The false narrative continues, however. We are told that the Wise Men also came to the stable, but only after telling Herod about this wonderful Baby. So quickly, Herod sent his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the infants so he could get the One who was to be “King of the Jews.” So still refugees, the family escaped to Egypt, a distant foreign land. Fortunately, there was no wall to prevent them from escaping. And the Wise Men and the Shepherds and Angels all went back to business as usual.
But that isn’t what happened.
Most scholars believe that it was a year or more before the Wise Men (Magi) came seeking Jesus, asking Herod about “the child born King of the Jews” in Bethlehem. So Herod’s minions were not hot on their trail and they did not to flee immediately. Rather, at the usual time after Jesus’ birth, His parents took him to Jerusalem to the Temple where He was circumcised and seen by several people. And Jerusalem was Herod’s capital! After that, Joseph and Mary chose to stay in Bethlehem, which makes sense given that they had family in the area. When Herod did find out, Joseph was warned and took his family from Judea to Egypt.
They WERE refugees from Herod and his government – Herod’s lust for power and his paranoia caused him to threaten them.
Egypt was different, but it wasn’t “foreign.” Like Judea, Egypt was a Roman province. No walls, any more than there is between South Dakota and Wyoming. The only checkpoints would have been the equal of toll gates or weigh stations, to pay duties and taxes. And since there was a large, integrated Jewish community in Egypt, they were not strangers in a strange land: Alexandria was second only to Jerusalem for Jewish scholarship and business. And a few years later, the family returned to Galilee, to Nazareth. Not immigrants to stay permanently in Egypt, but only refugees able to return home when the threat ended with Herod’s death.
Government is, again, the villain. All of it, not just stupid government policies about immigration or even border patrol. In arranging for Jesus’ incarnation, God took advantage of the evils of government. But those evils required people willing to do evil on behalf of government.
Can we not take advantage of the stupidity and evil of government today, in striving for our liberty and that of others?