Summary: Early in Jesus’ life, Satan loses, and prophecies are fulfilled. So it goes throughout Jesus’ life, and in our lives today.
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 NOW WHAT?
Another year is quickly drawing to a close. The holiday season is just about over. The rush of preparation has culminated in a few hours of quality time spent with friends and family, but now that’s done. The gifts have been opened, the food has been devoured. Now what?
The hectic pace of the holiday season can leave us longing for a break. It can also leave us with a sense of melancholy, a sense of sadness. The tinsel and the glitter, the lights and the decorations, the smells and the sounds of Christmas – everything is replaced now, with the mundane sameness of life. Many people struggle with the post-holiday-blahs. Now what?
I wonder if Mary and Joseph felt some of those same things. The excitement of the Son of God being born that night, the visit of the shepherds, some time after that - the visit of the Magi from the east, bringing gifts. But now what? Those things are done - in the past, distant memories for Mary and Joseph. Now they set about the task of raising a family, making a living – the excitement of the moment is gone. Did they struggle with the post-holiday blahs?
God didn’t let them, did he? He didn’t allow the holy family to live a peaceful and quiet life in Bethlehem for very long. Things couldn’t be peaceful and quiet, because the baby they were raising was the very Son of God, the Savior of the world. Satan would try to assassinate the Savior. Mary and Joseph would have to be placed into God’s witness protection program for a little while. Eventually, they would move back to their small hometown up north after things settled down. There was no time for Mary and Joseph to get comfortable in Bethlehem.
For you and I as Christians living in the 21st century, the events we are looking at today have a great deal of significance. As we sit here, at the end of the year, as all the holiday-type things come to a close, and we ask ourselves, now what? God answers that question this morning, through his Word. There is much ahead, much to think about, much to look forward to, and he shows us what those things are today as we focus on these early days in the life of our Savior.
It was the middle of the night, and Joseph was sleeping, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” The wise men from the east had just visited Jesus. They had told King Herod that they were on their way to visit the one who was born King of the Jews, and this bothered Herod. He was the King of the Jews, or so he thought. He wondered if this newborn child would be a threat to his throne. The wise men didn’t return like he thought they would, and this upset him. Any threat to his position of power must be eliminated. And so very soon, maybe even the next day, Herod would send his soldiers into Bethlehem to massacre all boys under the age of two. “Get up, Joseph,” the angel said. “Get out of here as fast as you possibly can.” Satan was behind this whole thing – this was his first attempt to assassinate the Messiah. And so Joseph got up in the middle of the night, and he and Jesus and Mary made their way to Egypt, where they stayed until the death of Herod.
Do you see the two things that happen here? Satan loses, and a prophecy is fulfilled. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When the prophet Hosea wrote that, he was referring to the nation of Israel, God’s Son, being called out of the slavery of Egypt into the promise land. But here, the Holy Spirit teaches us in Matthew that this also applies to Jesus – just as God called the nation of Israel out of Egypt, so also God called his son Jesus out of Egypt.
Now what? Joseph, Jesus, and Mary are living with a group of Jews in Egypt, but not for very long. Herod dies, and an angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph again, and tells him that it’s safe for him to go back to the land of Israel. So Joseph and Jesus and Mary return to Israel, but something iss wrong – Herod’s son, Archelaus was in charge now, and he was just as bad as his father. Now what? Once again, Joseph was warned in a dream to leave the area. He moves north, to the town of Nazareth in Galilee, and that’s where he stayed.