Monday 9 August 2021
Title: Foreign Contact Tracing.
Ong Hwee Soo
In my previous five Devotionals, we have seen Jesus’ encounters with Gentiles, and that His first such recorded engagement was with a Roman Centurion who appealed to Jesus to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-12). However, it is surprising to note that Jesus’ very first contact with Gentiles was when He was visited by “wise men from the east” when He was a child ( 2:1), It is significant indeed that the Matthew Gospel, written for a Jewish audience is the only Gospel which narrates the visit of the pagan Persian Magi, who travelled hundreds of miles to worship the new born “king of the Jews”(2:2), presenting Him with symbolic gifts (2:11). With this visitation, Matthew foreshadows his theme of the Gentile’s positive response to Jesus’ ministry. The text today also recounts another initial Gentile contact when Jesus was a child refugee in Egypt that would presage Jesus’ ministry.
When the wisemen did not return to Jerusalem as instructed by King Herod to report to him the whereabouts of the “king of the Jews (v3-5; 12), the then king of Judea perceived a threat to his throne, was furious and decreed the mass murder of all baby boys below age of two in Bethlehem where Christ was born. But, before the edict was enforced, the child’s father, Joseph being warned in a dream of the imminent threat to his infant’s life was instructed to take Jesus and His mother to Egypt. They remained in Egypt as refugees until Herod died.
Here again, this contact tracing of Jesus’ early years in Egypt as a refugee, recorded only in the Matthew Gospel, would be the harbinger of the New Testament (NT) diaspora ministry (as indicated in Acts 8:1; James 1:1; I Peter 1:1)
With that backdrop, you would recall that we have seen from my previous Devotional (24 May), Jesus traversing geographical territories, driving through racial and gender divides, contravening social conventions, demolishing religious demarcations, entering emotional walls and breaking psychological barriers to reach out to a Samaritan woman, a social outcast. In the ensuing four Devotionals, we have also seen, Jesus intentionally entering Gentile enclaves to heal, minister as well as feed a hungry Gentile multitude in their home ground.
These Gentile ministry rendezvous of Jesus were eventual to His initial ministry priority to the Jews which was aimed at directing the Israelites to bring the Gospel of salvation to the Gentiles. Christ demonstrated to His disciples that men are no longer to be divided by race, gender, social status etc.
The Book of Acts is vital and pivotal in the NT as it is a sequel to and outcome of the Gospels. We see Acts 8:1 as the fulfilment of Acts 1:8. The disciples “were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria” due to “a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem” (8:1). This sparked off a diaspora mission that we see in the NT, in which the Apostles and other disciples brought the Gospel to the ends of the then known world.
Church history is replete with many examples of diaspora missions. However, present day phenomena of globalization and mass migration have brought the nations to our shores. This too presents vast opportunities for diaspora missions.
In the face of the myriads of migrant needs, how are we doing in bringing the Good News to the various diaspora enclaves around us?
Lord Jesus, empower us, we pray, to Live the Life of Missions, including to Diaspora Communities around us. Amen.
在我之前的五篇灵修中，我们看到耶稣与外邦人的相遇，他第一次有记录的接触是与一位罗马百夫长，他恳求耶稣医治他的仆人(马太福音8:5-12)。然而，令人惊讶的是，耶稣与外邦人的第一次接触是在祂还是个孩子的时候，当 “几个来自东方的智者” 来访时(2:1)；深具意义的是，为犹太读者写的 “马太福音” 是唯一叙述异教徒波斯的智者来访的福音书，他们长途跋涉数百英里来到这里朝拜新生的 “犹太人的王”(2:2)，向祂献上象征性的礼物(2:11)。通过这次的到访，马太预示了他的主题，即外邦人对耶稣的事工积极的回应。今天的经文也叙述了另一次耶稣初步与外邦人的接触，当时耶稣还是埃及的儿童难民，这预示着耶稣的事工。
当智者没有按照希律王的指示返回耶路撒冷，向他报告 “犹太人的王” 的下落时(第3-5；12节)，当时的犹太国王察觉到他的王位受到威胁，非常愤怒，下令在基督出生的伯利恒屠杀所有两岁以下的男婴。但是，在法令实施之前，孩子的父亲约瑟在梦中被警告他的婴儿的生命即将受到威胁，他被指示带耶稣和他的母亲去埃及。他们作为难民留在埃及，直到希律王去世。
使徒行传在新约中是至关重要和关键的，因为它是福音书的续集和成果。我们将使徒行传8:1节视为使徒行传1:8的应验。门徒 “都分散到犹太和撒玛利亚各地”，因为 “耶路撒冷的教会大受迫害”（8:1）；这引发了我们在新约看到的散居的使命，使徒和其他门徒将福音带到了当时已知的世界的尽头。
主耶稣，我们祈祷，赋予我们力量去 活出宣教的生命 ，包括我们周围的散居社区。阿们。