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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Mary, Joseph and Jesus: The World’s Best Known Immigrants

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

By Donald V. Watkins

©Copyrighted and Published on November 18, 2018

In the midst of America’s contentious debate about migrants from Central America who are traveling to the Southern border of the U.S., we seem to have forgotten the Biblical story about the world’s best known immigrants -- Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.

According to the Bible, Joseph woke Mary up to give her urgent news. Jehovah’s angel had just appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him “Get up, take the young child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I give you word, for Herod is about to search for the young child to kill him.”​ ​-- Matthew 2:13.

After this warning, Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus fled their homeland. They escaped just in time because Herod learned that the astrologers who found Baby Jesus’ location had tricked him. Herod told them to report back to him when they had found Jesus. Instead, they left the country without giving Herod Baby Jesus’ location.

Herod was filled with rage. In an effort to kill Jesus, Herod ordered his soldiers to kill all boys in Bethlehem and its surrounding communities who were two years of age and younger.

In the meantime, Joseph and his family made the migrant journey to Egypt. They continued living there until it was safe to return to the land of Israel where they settled in the city of Nazareth. -- Matthew 2:20

Were Mary, Joseph, and Jesus refugees? Yes. They were a family fleeing their homeland to avoid persecution and Baby Jesus’ death at the hands of King Herod. As they headed toward Egypt, they were undocumented migrants seeking refuge and safety in foreign country.

In the Bible, Jesus reminds us that any time we “welcome the stranger” we welcome Jesus himself. These are his recorded words:

35 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)

Refugees and migrants have been fleeing violence in their native countries for thousands of years. They are usually in desperate need of help. Jesus commands us to “welcome the stranger.

Many Anglo-Saxon Christians in America simply ignore Jesus’ command when it comes to refugees and migrants of color. They seem to pick and choose which portion of the Bible they want to govern their personal lives. When it comes to welcoming migrants with open arms, they will do so with migrants from European countries but not with migrants of color from other countries.

The clearest example of this disparate treatment is presented in how President Donald J. Trump views the migrant caravan from Central America, as compared to how Trump treated First Lady Melania Trump’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs. The Knavs, who made their first trip to America from the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia in February 2004, took their oaths to become Americans in August after the First Lady sponsored their green cards. They were not fleeing gang violence or persecution. Instead, the Knavs benefited from the “chain migration” that Trump has repeatedly denounced for non-white immigrants. Under “chain migration,” a single immigrant who becomes a U.S. citizen may sponsor an unlimited number of other relatives for green cards and citizenship.

The migrant caravan from Central America consist of innocent men, women, and children who are fleeing gang violence and abject poverty. Contrary to U.S. law, they will not be allowed to apply for political asylum at the U.S. border. Instead, they will be met by heavily armed U.S. soldiers who have been ordered by Trump to turn them around by any means necessary.

Fortunately for Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, a pharaoh with Donald Trump’s mindset was not ruling Egypt when the “Holy Family” fled Herod’s death decree. Such a leader would have ordered his soldiers to stop Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus at the Egyptian border.

At the time, Egypt was one of the greatest civilizations on the planet. Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians built the “Great Pyramids” and other magnificent structures that are still standing today. Yet, they did not erect a wall to keep foreigners out of their country.

Only two countries have built world-famous walls -- communist China (from 770 BC to 220 AD and 1368 to 1644) for the purpose of protecting its territorial borders and Germany for the purpose of separating communist East Berlin from pro-western West Berlin during the Cold War (from 1961 to 1989). In 1989, the Berlin Wall was torn down and Berlin is now unified. The Great Wall of China is now a tourist attraction.

Donald Trump’s Great Wall at the Southern border is the third project of its kind in world history. Trump’s stated purpose in building the Wall is to keep migrants out of America who are fleeing violence, political persecution, and abject poverty back home. On the campaign trail, Trump promised his supporters that Mexico would pay for the Wall. Now, he is demanding that American taxpayers pay the $20 billion tab for his Great Wall.

Ultimately, God will decide whether the Bible’s teachings on Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus’ immigration into Egypt will prevail over Donald Trump’s narrow-minded political views on the subject. Throughout recorded history, no national president, prime minister, king, dictator, or pharaoh has ever wielded more influence and power than God. They all fade from the scene over time. God is here forever.

I side with God's Biblical teachings on the subject of immigration.

PHOTO: Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus fleeing into Egypt after King Herod issued a death decree for his soldiers to kill Jesus.

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Sharon S
Sharon S
Jun 09

In your own words: "Under “chain migration,” a single immigrant who becomes a U.S. citizen may sponsor an unlimited number of other relatives for green cards and citizenship."

Respectfully, that's not what is happening at the border. No one is being documented or sponsored! Further, active criminals and terrorists are invading, not immigrating.

Also, have you ever visited Texas? There's been a wall there for decades. It's not completed, but this was all accomplished long before Trump.

Rather than using your words as swords, how about advocating for a solution before all of our Nation's cities are destroyed?


Koda Shepherd
Koda Shepherd
Nov 18, 2018

While the above comments were thoughts based on my knowledge of the scriptures. I am reminded of a lecture I attended at our local synagogue by a Jewish Scholar Dr. Joel Hoffman, who has spent his life translating the Bible from the original languages.

Some of his comments reminded us that translation needs to be done keeping in mind the vernacular and slang of the day. An example he used was "my sister my wife " or "my brother the King" which was meant to portray not the familial status but the social standing, for example as your sibling is on the same level as you so should be your wife.

For those that would prefer a more scholarly…


Koda Shepherd
Koda Shepherd
Nov 18, 2018

Some clarification as outlined in the scriptures.

Joesph and his pregnant wife Mary came to their home town whee they were citizens to be counted in the census as ordered by the Roman Government who ruled over the known world including Israel at that time.

They did not immigrate to Egypt permanently but only temporarily until it was safe to return to their home country.

Throughout Biblical history Egypt did NOT welcome foreigners but instead subjected them to scorn, subjugation, slavery, and separation. Even those who are not students of the Bible will remember Moses plea to the Egyptian rulers to "Let my people go!"

Unfortunately today's English translations do not accurately translate the original Hebrew and Greek properly si…


Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Nov 18, 2018

A fleeing Mary, Joseph and Jesus would not make into the U.S. today. Today's Evangelical Christians would not accept them because President Donald J. Trump would say they were undocumented migrants from a "shithole" North African country. In fact, Jesus would be taken from Mary and Joseph and placed in a cage at a detention center.


Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Nov 18, 2018

For the most part, Christianity in America is practiced only when it is convenient and furthers one’s political beliefs.For example, today’s politicians in Alabama have passed laws to display the Ten Commandments in schools and public building. Yet, they will not appropriate adequate resources to make sure that school-age children can read the Ten Commandments. What is worst, these same politicians violate most of the Ten Commandments on a daily basis and nobody seems to care.

Similarly, these politicians routinely use the Bible as a political prop to curry favor with so-called Evangelical Christians who place political party allegiance ahead of God’s Biblical teachings. The one thing we can count on is God’s power to hold those who disrespect th…

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