Was Jesus a Refugee?


In Matthew 2:13, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the [baby Jesus] and his mother [Mary], and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him.” So Joseph took his family to Egypt and remained there until Herod died.

Now some have claimed this means Jesus was a refugee. Usually this is to score political points or make some kind of argument about immigration. Generally speaking, a refugee is someone who’s forced to flee their own country because of violence or a natural disaster. Given that Joseph with his family were fleeing the wrath of Herod, maybe they could be considered refugees.

But recognize that the family never left the Roman Empire. They left Bethlehem and fled to Egypt, to the Jewish settlement at Alexandria. This means they were even staying with their own people in a thriving community, and likely used the gifts the magi gave Jesus to pay for their stay. When Herod died a short time later, they returned to Joseph’s hometown of Nazareth.

The politicians who say “Jesus was a refugee” are often quite liberal. They advocate for the murder of the unborn and the redefinition of marriage. This means they’re not of the court of King Jesus, but with the court of King Herod, who killed children and hated God’s definition of marriage. They’d have done Herod a favor and killed Jesus before He was born.

Jesus did not come to us as a refugee. He was born King of kings, before whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, when we understand the text.

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