Candle #4: Jesus, My Ever-Present Comfort
The Prophet Jeremiah wrote a beautiful chapter about the day when God would fulfill His promise to Israel — to bring them back from their captivity, to settle them into their own homes.
In Jeremiah 31, he says that when God comes to forgive sins and end exile. There would be great dancing and rejoicing: “Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them and give them gladness for sorrow.” (v.13)
But Matthew sees something else going on. When Matthew pulls from the same chapter of Jeremiah 31, he pulls the only verse that is not joyful. “Rachel, weeping for her children…” (v.15). What is going on?
In Jesus, the end of exile has arrived! The end of sin! The end of fear! The end of sadness! That is, unless you happen to be one of the mothers weeping that night in Bethlehem. Mathew doesn’t sugar-coat it. The coming of Jesus exposed the worst in the world.
But because Mathew chose this verse from Jeremiah, we get a glimpse of the good-news message wrapped in that manger. You see, Jesus did not come to make our lives comfortable. Being Emanual, the with-us God means that Jesus came to enter all our pain and sorrow and suffering.
The weeping of Rachel that parallels the weeping of those Bethlehem mothers will parallel the weeping of the women at the cross where Jesus died. Part of the tragedy mingled with joy in the gospel is that whatever hurt, whatever sadness life has thrown our way — Jesus experienced it first. And He’s with us. That’s why He can be our ever-present leader.
Mathew knew that the joy of Jeremiah’s promise is coming, but the path to that joy will take us from this night of weeping, straight through to the cross. The horrible action of Herod was just the start of all the pain, betrayal, shame, and suffering that Jesus would carry in His own body right up to the cross. Whatever dark place of suffering you’ve been to, remember: Jesus was there first. And He is ever-present to lead you through.