Summary: After Christmas there is sometimes a big letdown. This message deals with Joseph and Mary and their flight into Egypt, and the lessons we can learn about God’s care.
INTRODUCTION: Christmas 2003 is over! The tree is still up, but it looks mighty empty underneath. All that’s left of the turkey is a bare skeleton. Visiting family members have left to go back home. The excitement of Christmas took weeks to build to a crescendo … and then it’s over.
Life has gotten back to normal. AND … many people suffer from the post-Christmas blahs … a kind of depression after all the hoop-la of Christmas … the “Post-Christmas Blues”.
Think of what it was like for Mary & Joseph. We spend weeks before Christmas preaching about the events leading up to … and including … the birth of Jesus. We seldom hear a sermon about what happened to them AFTER Christmas.
Some people don’t consider Joseph to be a very important character in the Christmas story. The Bible doesn’t record anything that Joseph ever said. He is usually ignored. The emphasis is always on Jesus, Mary, the Shepherds, the Wise Men. This morning, Joseph is the central character.
Their life was going to be turned upside down … topsy-turvy. Nothing would ever be the same again. Luke simply sums up the next 12 years in 2 verses … read Luke 2:39-40. BUT … Matthew gives us more of a detailed description.
Turn to Matthew 2:13.
The Wise Men visited Mary & Joseph and presented them with their 3 gifts. When they leave, they go to bed, and Joseph has a DREAM. NOW … this isn’t the first DREAM that Joseph has. While an angel appeared to Mary and told her of her forthcoming pregnancy, God always spoke to Joseph in a dream. See 1:20, 2:19, 2:22. Joseph was probably a lot older than Mary. Maybe, like a lot of us, he took a lot of naps!
ANYWAY … the angel tells Joseph in the dream to flee to Egypt, because Herod is going to try to kill Jesus. There are several things I want us to see here.
1.- JOSEPH’S OBEDIENCE – see 2:14. Joseph didn’t waste any time. He didn’t wait until morning … he got them packed THAT NIGHT and headed out to Egypt.
Think about what this meant for Joseph. He and Mary had traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem … expecting to stay only for a few days and then return. They hadn’t planned on MOVING … lock, stock, and barrel! Their FAMILY was back in Nazareth … they hadn’t even said “Good-by”. They didn’t bring a wagon, loaded with their furniture, valuables, and furnishings. Joseph probably had a carpenter shop back in Nazareth … what would happen to that?
In the middle of the night, God said “Move!”. Joseph didn’t argue with God. He didn’t ask God for “Plan B”. He didn’t wait to try to figure it all out. He just OBEYED. I think that’s why God chose Joseph to be the step-father of Jesus. God knew his heart … that Joseph was sensitive to God’s will.
2.- GOD’S PROVISION – see 2:11. When God calls, He provides … AMEN? God wouldn’t have told Mary & Joseph to go to Egypt, and then say, “You’re on your own … Good luck!” They would need enough money to live off of while down in Egypt … and God provided it for them through the Wise Men.
3.- HEROD’S ANGER – see 2:13b, 2:16. Talk about “Post-Christmas Blues”! This isn’t usually included in plays about the Christmas story. We leave this part out. Mary & Joseph and baby Jesus running for their lives … fleeing the country. Dead babies left behind. It’s not part of our holiday picture, is it?
Let’s take a little closer look at Herod. He was a mean, vicious person. History has a lot to say about him. Caesar Augustus was quoted as saying that it would be better to be King Herod’s pig than his son. Pigs were protected by law … Herod’s family weren’t. King Herod had already killed 2 of his own sons … he had them strangled. He also killed one of his 10 wives … his favorite wife … because he thought that she had been unfaithful to him (she wasn’t!). He killed his 18 year old brother-in-law, because the Jews liked him better than they liked Herod. He also killed her grand-father, and her 80 year old uncle, who had once saved Herod’s life. He also killed his own uncle and his mother-in-law. What’s a few babies in Bethlehem to King Herod!
The slaughter of innocent children in Bethlehem was a fulfillment of prophecy (Jeremiah 31:15) – 2:17-18. What does this have to do with “Rachel” and “Ramah”? Remember our study on “Bethlehem”? Rachel, the wife of Jacob, was buried in Bethlehem. Where is “Ramah”? Bethlehem was about 5 miles South of Jerusalem. Ramah was about 5 miles North of Jerusalem. Herod took a pencil and drew a circle around Jerusalem, probably 10 miles North/South of Jerusalem, and said “Kill every boy under 2 years of age.”.