Chapter two in Matthew reads of the Magi heading to find the Babe lying in the manager. A story read or touched on every Christmas season, the birth of the Babe lying in a manger. This story is filled with action and adventure. A story of life, a story of hope, and a story of refugees. Chapter two shows Herod in fury, it shows God touching the lives of others protecting Jesus as he grows, and it shows Jesus growing and developing into a new being.
King Herod had a long history of being a blood thirsty killer on the loose. When his brother-in-law began to become popular, he was found drowned to death in a shallow pool. In Herod’s reign top officials were cudgeled to death, two of his sons were strangled to death, and on his death bed, he ordered another son to be executed. There is no historical evidence to prove that he ordered the death of all the two year olds, but in the massacre of all these Children of the world, a glimmer of hope emerges from the tragic event. Although there are injustices in this world directed by rebels against God, the rebels cannot change God’s ultimate purpose of justice in the world. God’s purpose will be fulfilled.
If you were to place yourself in King Herod’s place, a jealous King of a great empire, hearing of the newborn Babe that is God’s son; what would you do? See King Herod has already ordered the death of his Brother-in-law because he was popular and now this new born is said to have been born and already the religious leaders are coming to bring gifts to the young lad! King Herod would be furious he wants the treasure and he can see the threat of popularity and he can see his reign on his Kingdom slipping just out of reach. A religious uprising would be tragic to hs reign.
God Protects / Jesus as a Refugee
God gave the Magi the insight to take another path home and not report to King Herod. God sent an angel to Joseph and protected His Son so that God’s will may be done. So Joseph went to Egypt fulfilling the prophecy. It’s important to remember though, that in 6 AD there would have been very little in Egypt and although in Egypt Joseph, Mary, and Jeus were refugees. They undoubtedly had to travel lightly, living in the desserts and off the land. They had little to their name and Jesus would have had no where to lay his head. Following the deliverance to Egypt, Joseph was made known that they could return to Isreal, but again with the wisdom and protection from God, they settled in Nazareth. Nazareth would have been a small community with not much going on. An agricultural town of no more than five hundred people. This would caused the religious leaders to ask ‘can anything good come from Nazareth, its a run-down farm town.’
Two major topics develop out of this, the first being God protects, but warms that life will not be easy. There will be obstacles and definitely challenges. People are oppressed daily for religious, political, and religious trends that are contrary to societal fads. But as Matthew began his ministry he essentially mocks the Jewish leaders who are asking ‘what good can come from Nazareth’ and he says: Nazareth is divinely important. You cannot judge the importance of something based on worldly proclaimations. Matthew challenges the Jewish leaders by saying Jesus came from Nazareth. This is important because Matthew is directly challenging the popular fad trends, polical, cultural, and religious. Matthew is teaching us to challenge religious, political and cultural trends that are contrary to the purpose of God.
The second topic, is that even though there are challenges and obstacels in our path, we will be protected. God is ever present and ever constant and will continue to be with us no matter how difficult we think life is. We act like life is our divine right, almost so much to imply that Christians suffering somehow lack in faith or worth. However, from the beginning of Jesus’ time, he proved the opposite to be true. There are hundreds of thousands who are being tortured or punished on a daily basis because of their faith and beliefs and in this passage, they can identify with Jesus as the refugee. Man of us have the bliss about us that says I don’t have to suffer because I have Jesus. But Jesus is so sybolic of the ultimate refugee and in due time, everyone with face hardships. We should not be suprised when we face hostility, false accusations, or even death as we do God’s work.
Matthew quotes Hosea in this chapter. He says
Out of Egypt I called my son
The Second line of that is :
When Israel was a child, I loved him
Thus far heritage has been extremely important to Matthew from the begining heritage of Matthew 1 to the association of Jesus being born in Bethleham, refugee in Egypt, and later to Nazareth. This entire passage shows Jesus as the forerunner and the one who will bring ultimate salvation. Matthew continues to say that Jesus’ mission is for all people.
More than this though, Matthew quotes Jeremiah, in the passage of Jeremiah, if you read Jeremiah 31, you will read:
“(because Isreal is) my dear son, the child in whom I delight”
New Salvation will come in new covenant. Jesus is called to identify with the suffering and exile of his people. This passage may also be interpreted as God feels human pain and suffering just as much, and more than we do. This passage helps us see Jesus more clearly and one who can identify with our pain and suffering. Since jesus has has went through this, and God allowed his son to go through these things, perhaps we can identify more with God. God truly cares about each individual.
Ultimately, Matthew Chapter 2 offers hope. God is a protector and a leader. Jesus suffered and endured the oppression of others. The passage says Jesus will rise again. The passage says challenge religious, political, and cultural trends that are contrary to the true purposes of Christ. The passage says we will face challenges and oppresion our selves, but God is there for us. Do not be afraid to turn to God and ask. God is an ever present and ever constant person. Turn to God and ask.