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Christmas One

December 26, 2010

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Christmas 1

26 December 2010

 

Matthew 2:13-23

 

Another dream.  Joseph’s getting used to those.  He’ll have some more along the way.  Good thing Dr. Freud isn’t offering his services or tweeting his interpretation of dreams.  Can you imagine?  “Well, Joseph, tell me about the nightmare.  Lay down on the couch.  What’s this?  Oh, I know, you’ve been repressing all those childhood memories of your mother.  You have a mother complex!  Yes, that’s it!  It’s all coming clear now.” 

 

Nonsense.  In this dream Joseph receives another important message.  Again it’s from the angel of the Lord!  It’s a word that really offers help.  “Time to pack up your suitcases Joseph!  Get out of Dodge!  Quickly!  No time to lose! Herod’s on the rampage again. The Magi obeyed God, not him.  They didn’t report back with their GPS work and went back home!  Didn’t reveal the specific location of the one born King of the Jews.  You know, the promised Son of David whose kingdom would never end!  The Messiah.  The Savior of the world.  King Herod won’t have any of that!  No Messiah for him or for anyone else.  He’ll put a stop to such nonsense.  After all, he’s too busy being little “s” savior, little “m” messiah, or little “g” god in his tiny part of the world.” 

 

Herod rages!  He’s furious!  He’s brutal!  He’ll pull out all the stops to make sure that the little Baby born in Bethlehem as the OT prophet Micah promised will never be King of kings and Lord of lords.  So the royal order goes forth!  Infanticide!  Yes, that’s right!  Kill as many of the babies two years old and younger!  Herod will not be inconvenienced.  He will not be bothered.  It’s his kingdom!  He’s the king!  Murder the babies!  Put them to the sword!  He doesn’t care how the sword does the dirty deed.  Just as long as the Baby born in Bethlehem is eliminated!

 

How ironic!  The Baby who is to save His people from their sins must now flee.  Escape.  Far, far away!  Off to Egypt!  Down to the land of Pharaoh!  For quite some time!  For about four years in until Herod is graveyard dead and his son Archelaus takes over the reigns.

 

Then there’s another dream.  In that dream the angel of the Lord tells Joseph to get out of Egypt and hoof it back to the Promised Land.  “Get up Joseph, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel.”  Only then does Joseph bring the Baby and Mary back to Israel.  But not to Bethlehem or the region of Judea but up in the north.  To the town of Nazareth in the district of Galilee.

 

These events in the life of the Baby Jesus are the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.  Did you note that?  In fact, through these events in His life Jesus is re-doing and fulfilling what God promised all along in the OT.  The history of Moses and all of Israel is being recapitulated and fulfilled in Jesus.  Jesus is Israel reduced to one. 

 

Check it out!  See how Baby Jesus’ early years parallel Israel’s history.  God chose Moses to be the deliverer of Israel.  But right from the start Moses’ life was threatened when an evil Pharaoh ordered the murder of all the Hebrews baby boys in Egypt.  So too with Baby Jesus.  His life is harassed and endangered by wicked King Herod.  And many Hebrew babies are viciously murdered.  And like Moses, Jesus escaped. 

 

Also note this.  The history of the OT patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph) ended when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt.  The Exodus!  Israel’s deliverance. Now the history not only of Israel’s but the world’s salvation begins as the Holy Child, the second and greater Moses, must flee to Egypt. 

 

And when the Holy Family comes out of Egypt and returns to the Promised Land, God is doing another Exodus.  In fact, it is the greatest Exodus of all:  through Jesus!  “Out of Egypt I called my son.”  The prophet Hosea wrote that.  Hosea meant Israel.  Matthew ratchets it up and applies it to Jesus! 

 

Matthew’s point?  The Holy Spirit’s point?  It’s this:  Jesus re-lives and fulfils in His own life the history of Israel.  Jesus is the promised Messiah.  He goes way down into the darkness and exile of Egypt (like a prefigured crucifixion) and then He comes way up out of Egypt (in a kind of geographical resurrection) back to the Promised Land.  Why?  What’s going on?  In Jesus the NEW and GREATER EXODUS of God’s people is being accomplished.    The definitive EXODUS.  The WHOLE ENCHILADA EXODUS that counts for everyone!  Israelites.  Gentiles.  You.  Me.  The world!  Through “Out Of Egypt I Have Called My Son” Jesus, the whole world is being brought out of and rescued from the brutal and oppressive powers of sin, death, and Satan!  Through Jesus comes the final and complete EXODUS – world redemption — that the OT exodus under Moses foreshadowed.

 

In two more ways Matthew shows how the history of Israel is done again and fulfilled in the early life of Jesus.  First, King Herod’s barbaric murder of the Bethlehem babies.  And second, the home in Nazareth.  Both of these events fulfill the OT.

 

When the Israelites were taken away into exile by the Babylonians the prophet Jeremiah declared in Jeremiah 31:15 that he heard Israel’s mother, Rachel, weeping from her grave.  Weeping uncontrollably for her children who were no more.  Now, when Herod puts the infanticide order into effect, Rachel weeps again.  Matthew hears Rachel’s bitter cry with all Bethlehem’s mothers as God’s redeeming ways for the entire world collide with King Herod’s selfish, maniacal, and destructive will.   “Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:  ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more.’”   

 

Then when Jesus takes up residence in Galilee’s Nazareth, this too fulfils what God promised.  “So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets:  ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’”  

 

Can’t get any more obscure or out of the way than Nazareth.  Jesus of Nazareth – King of the Jews?  Nazareth!  Can any thing good come from that hick place?  How can this be?  Isn’t this Jesus the one who will raise up the fallen dynasty of King David?  Isn’t this Child supposed to be the one called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God?  Yes.  Absolutely yes!  But His beginnings are obscure and He comes from the least expected place! 

 

And in just that way what the prophets foretold comes true.  The King of the Jews doesn’t come from the royal palace in Jerusalem. Instead He comes from the humble town of Nazareth.  Jesus is the King but He comes as a shoot from the stump of Jesse.  He comes like a root out of dry ground.  He comes as the David king but humbly riding on a donkey.  He comes as a Servant.  As one who serves.  Who gives His life as a ransom for many.  All this is fulfilled in Jesus’ little known youth in insignificant Nazareth!  Jesus:  King of the Jews – from Nazareth!

 

Well, all of this shows you that Jesus is the center of Scripture.  All of Scripture.  Jesus is the key to understanding the Bible.  And not just any Jesus that you might want to make up for yourselves.  In His life all of Scripture is fulfilled.  Israel’s history is fulfilled.  And it’s all done for you!  For your salvation.  For the forgiveness of all your sins through His death.  Through His resurrection.  Good Friday and Easter Sunday — that’s where He’s headed.     That’s what Jesus is all about. He’s the Savior.  The one promised for you in the Bible.  The promised second and last Moses who exoduses you out of Egyptian sin, death and hell.  Who has brought you safely through the Red Sea of your Baptism as you journey in this wilderness to the Promised Land of heaven!  And as you wander in this wilderness the Lord Jesus feeds you manna from heaven and water from the rock – His body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.  Food for the journey!  To bring you safely to the eternal rest of heaven’s Canaan!

 

In the Name of Jesus!   

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