"The Protection of Jesus Christ"
Matthew 2:12-23

1. Protection from Herod (verses 12-18)
2. Protection from Archelaus (verses 19-23)

The hand of God was upon the earthly life of Jesus Christ. In the opening chapters of Matthew, we have seen that Jesus Christ was born of the line of David, according to the providential working of God (Matt. 1:1-17). He was born of a virgin, through divine intervention (Matt. 1:20-23). He was named, "Jesus" in accordance with the work He would do (i.e. save people from their sins) (Matt. 1:21). He was born in the right city, David's city, the city of Bethlehem (Matt. 2:1,6).

Not only was the hand of God upon the earthly life of Jesus Christ at his birth, but also in his death. In the last few chapters of Matthew, we will see that Jesus knew that he would be delivered to the chief priests and scribes and condemned to death (Matt. 20:18). He knew that he would be delivered over to the Gentiles to be mocked, scourged, and crucified (Matt. 20:19). Commenting upon His death, Peter would later say that Jesus was "delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). In the gospel of John, Jesus constantly anticipated, "His hour" (i.e. the hour of his death) (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23,27; 13:1; 17:1). In the gospel of Luke, Jesus, Himself, described the events of His last days on earth as being "determined" (Luke 22:22), (i.e. planned out, marked out, established).

Furthermore, throughout his ministry, God's hand was upon Jesus. At His baptism, a voice came from heaven to affirm Jesus' ministry, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased" (Matt. 3:17). At His temptation, it was the Spirit who led Him up to the wilderness to be tempted (Matt. 4:1). At His transfiguration, a voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!" (Matt. 17:5).

We shall see God's providential hand very clearly in our text this evening. Particularly, we will see God's providence in protecting His Son. As such, I have entitled my message this evening, "The Protection of Jesus Christ." We will see Jesus being protected in His childhood. As we saw two weeks ago, when the magi visited Jesus, He was no longer an infant, but a "child" (according to verse 11). It is at this point that we will pick up the life of Jesus, as a Child. Let me read our text for us this evening.

Matthew 2:12-23
(12) And having been warned [by God] in a dream not to return to Herod, [the Magi] departed for their own country by another way. (13) Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him." (14) And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; (15) and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "O
UT OF EGYPT DID I CALL MY SON." (16) Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi. (17) Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, (18) "A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE." (19) But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, (20) "Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child's life are dead." (21) And he arose and took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. (22) But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned [by God] in a dream, he departed for the regions of Galilee, (23) and came and resided in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

This is the sort of text of scripture that I wouldn't choose to preach on, because of its difficulty in interpretation. Yet, because we are studying through the gospel according to Matthew, I have been forced to tackle this text before us. Though this may be difficult, it is one of the greatest benefits of exposition -- we are forced to deal with difficult passages. In some ways, I feel like my sermon tonight will be more of a lecture than a sermon, as we deal with some of these difficulties. Our outline this evening will be focussed around the divine protection of Jesus. Let's look first at the ...

1. Protection from Herod (verses 12-18)

In verse 12, Matthew is writing about the magi, which we focussed upon two weeks ago, "and having been warned [by God] in a dream not to return to Herod, [the magi] departed for their own country by another way." God protects His Son in causing the magi to have this dream (many versions add the words, "by God" in verse 12, for certainly the dream came to them from God, Himself).

Dreams are not new to the passage before us. Joseph was warned in a dream in 1:20, concerning the birth of Jesus. Joseph will be providentially guided by three other dreams (in verses 13, 19, and 22).

Dreams are not new to the magi. Two weeks ago, we saw that the magi were the counselors to the king and to be compared with our cabinet members of the United States of America, who advise our president. However, unlike many of our cabinet members, these men were also interested in spiritual things. They would be open to being led by such mediums as dreams. They weren't mere rational intellectuals. They were spiritual wise men. I can hardly imagine many of our cabinet members today being persuaded in a dream to change their course of action.

These magi were told in their dream, not to return to Herod. In effect, they were told not to return to Jerusalem, though this was the easiest route to travel back to the east. It would have been out of their way to travel home any other way. To put it into our modern context, you might compare this to someone living in Chicago, who was visiting Winnebago, and being directed on their way home, not to pass through Rockford. Sure, there are ways, but they certainly aren't convenient and natural.

Not only was this inconvenient, but also, this was in direct opposition to what Herod had instructed them to do, as recorded in verse 8, "when you have found [Him], report to me, that I too may come and worship Him." We know that Herod had no interest in worshiping this child. The paranoid king wanted to kill the child! God also protects His Son by moving their hearts of the magi to be obedient to the dream, rather than Herod the king. Matthew writes, "they departed for their own country by another way" (verse 12).

It isn't an easy thing to disobey the sovereign ruler in the land. Imagine that you were travelling to southern Illinois, in search of finding some long-lost relative. Your search took you to investigate some state documents that were kept in the capital house in Springfield. Governor Jim Ryan heard about your peculiar trip, and invited you to visit his office while in Springfield. Once there, he said, "if you find your long-lost relative, come back and tell me, because I would like to have a story done on your search." Then, you found such a relative, but were warned in a dream not to tell Governor Ryan. What would you do? Would you return to Governor Ryan as he wished or would you return home without meeting him again. Do you see the difficulty?

It is difficult to disobey the sovereign ruler of the land. Realize further, that Governor Ryan doesn't have nearly the power that Herod did. He wouldn't seek to kill you for such an offence, whereas Herod might have sought your death in defying his order to return. But God providentially directed these magi to obey the dream, and thus, protected His Son.

God protected His Son by warning Joseph in a dream. In verse 13, we find another dream. This time, it comes to Joseph, "Now when they [i.e. the magi] had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, 'Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.'"

Egypt was away from Jerusalem. Continuing our Winnebago analogy, it would be like being told to flee to "Iowa." From Winnebago, you simply jump on 20 and head west, away from Rockford. Similarly, for them to escape to Egypt, they would simply head west. Egypt was a safe place for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. For was outside the jurisdiction of Herod the great. Herod had no control over the inhabitants there. Furthermore, there were over a million Jews that lived there.

Joseph obeyed the dream right away. Verse 14 tells us that Joseph, "arose and took the Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt; and was there until the time of the death of Herod" (which occurred in 4 B. C.). Night-time wasn't the most convenient time to leave, but Joseph wasn't looking for convenience. He was simply responding in obedience.

Again, I point out to you that this is divine intervention at work here. God was sovereign in sending the angel of the Lord to Joseph in a dream. God was sovereign in moving his heart to obey the directions given with haste.

If we read between the lines a little bit as well, we see that God was sovereign in providing the resources to travel to Egypt. Joseph and Mary had traveled to Bethlehem from Nazareth, some 70 miles south. It was another 70 miles west to the Egyptian border. Perhaps they traveled further into Egypt. This is a 2 day trip! I told you two weeks ago, that before the magi came to worship the Child, they had offered up sacrifices for their new-born Son in Jerusalem. Luke tells us that they offered up "a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons" (Luke 2:24). According to the Law, you offered up these birds, if you didn't have sufficient finances to be able to afford the required lamb. So, Mary and Joseph weren't rich well-to-do's who could travel at will. Perhaps it was the treasures of the magi (i.e. the gold, frankincense, and myrrh) that funded their trip, which protected the child.

Now, throughout this entire narrative, we see God's sovereign protection for His Son, when but a child. But weaved within God's protection of His Son is also the fulfillment of Scripture. Jesus was taken to Egypt, "that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying 'OUT OF EGYPT DID I CALL MY SON.'" This is a quote from Hosea, chapter 11:1. There is no mistaking this.

Furthermore, there is no mistaking Matthew's intent in this passage. Matthew says, that Jesus' trip to Egypt was a fulfillment of this particular passage of Scripture. It looks clear enough. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but the prophet had fore-told that the Messiah would be called "out of Egypt." Thus, by living in Egypt for a season of His childhood, only to be called back into the land of Israel, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy.

However, the difficulty in understanding this passage comes in that if you read Hosea 11:1 in its context, Hosea doesn't appear to have been predicting that Messiah would come out of Egypt. Hosea was reflecting upon God's love for Israel. Listen to the whole verse, "When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son" (Hosea 11:1). Hosea was reflecting upon the occasion of the Exodus of the nation of Israel from Egypt, which was lead by Moses and recorded for us in the book of Exodus.

The question boils down to this: How can an Old Testament statement concerning the redemption of the nation Israel from Egypt be regarded as being fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Messiah?

I believe that the key to this is understanding what it means for Christ to "fulfill" what the prophets said. We often think of fulfillment of prophecy as this prediction of a future event that comes to pass -- like a sports-writer who predicts the winner of an athletic event or like a psychic, who predicts events that will happen the following year.

However, Old Testament prophecy doesn't always work like this (as we shall see in later verse as well). A case in point, is Hosea's prophecy we are examining here. You can read Hosea until you are blue in the face an you will never see Hosea 11:1 as predicting the Messiah as coming out of Egypt. Hosea wasn't predicting the future regarding the Messiah. Our problem comes in our understanding of what it means "to fulfill." Before I discuss what it means that Christ "fulfilled" this prophecy, let me remind you of another fact.

The gospel of Matthew is written to a Jewish audience. Matthew is trying to convince Jewish people that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Of all the other gospel writers, it is Matthew, who places most emphasis upon the writings of the Old Testament, which the Jews knew very well. For his argument to be convincing, of necessity, he had to use the Old Testament scriptures in a way that would convince the Jewish people of the validity of his argument.

Think about it in our context today. Suppose that somebody today, goes deep into the recesses of the Old Testament and pulls out some obscure verse to justify some argument. What would we do? First of all, a strange look might appear on our face. Second, we probably wouldn't place much confidence in such an argument. You might say, "Well, that's what you think. I simply don't see where this relates." We would see it as simple babble.

Matthew's context is no different. If he sought to support that Jesus was the Messiah by using the scripture in a way that those to whom he was writing would be uncomfortable (or fail to understand or fail to see the connection), his writing would have no effect -- his argument would be invalid.

Let's look next at what this word, "fulfill" means. The Greek word is plhrow (pleroo), which simply means, "to fill or to make full." We would use this word to describe filling our dinner cups with milk, or filling our the gas tanks in our cars. In Matt. 13:48, it is used to describe a fishing net being filled with fish.

So with respect to prophecies made in the Old Testament, we need to think in these terms (i.e. what was spoken through the prophets has been filled up, or made full in the coming of Christ). That's how we understood this word earlier in chapter 1, when Matthew quoted the prophet Isaiah, that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). There was certainly a sense where King Ahab would have understood this prophecy to have been fulfilled in his time. But there was also a sense in which the birth of Jesus filled up this prophecy in a great way.

Similarly, with respect to Hosea here, I believe that Jesus' trip to and from Egypt has given a fuller sense to Hosea's writing, in the same way that Jesus' virgin birth gave a fuller sense of Isaiah's writing. The coming of Jesus gives us a fuller understanding of the nuances of these Old Testament writings.

At this point, however, you need to be careful. I'm not saying that this meaning was totally unknown to Isaiah or Hosea.

Hosea called the nation Israel, "My son." This wasn't any new thing for the Old Testament. In Exodus 4:22, the LORD calls Israel, "My son, My first-born." In Exodus 4:23, Moses is to say to Pharaoh, "Let My son go, that he may serve Me." In a very real way, Israel is God's son. The scriptures so declare!

But the Old Testament also speaks clearly about the Messiah being the "son" as well. You remember 2 Samuel 7, when God promised that one of David's descendents would sit on the throne of David forever (2 Sam. 7:16). The Jews clearly believed that the Messiah was "the son of David" (Matt. 22:42). Psalm 2 uses the same language: "Do homage to the Son" (Psalm 2:12).

I believe that Hosea, in describing the Exodus of the nation Israel from Egypt, knew something of this greater significance of the meaning of the word, "son," that he would not object to Matthew's interpretation. He had certainly read 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 2 to understand this theme in the Old Testament of the Messiah being the true son of God in a greater way than Israel, as a nation, could ever be.

So, I believe that Hosea's prophecy gives hints of what will be true of the Messiah to come. Matthew gives the fuller explanation for us to see and understand of Hosea's prophecy. As such, Jesus, Himself is identified in solidarity with the nation of Israel. Just as the nation Israel was cursed in the sin of David (2 Samuel 12; 24), so also will Israel be blessed in the obedience of their true King, Jesus, as He came to save His people from their sin (2 Cor. 5:21). This is solidarity. The actions of one affect the whole, for good of for bad. In David's case, it was bad. In Jesus' case, it was good.

If you struggle with this identification of Israel with Jesus, realize that this isn't new, either. I commend you to a careful reading of the servant passages in Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-7; 49:1-9; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12). You will see them, in their context to refer primarily to Israel, or perhaps to an idealized Israel. In a greater sense, however, they clearly speak of Jesus, the Messiah.

Let's get back to Matthew. Let's read verse 16, "Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi." In verse 8, we saw that Herod was trying to trick the magi. They returned the favor and instead deceived him.

We don't know how long it was after the magi left Bethlehem for home that Herod found out that been deceived. It was certainly within two years, for this is the age of the children Herod sought to destroy. It was probably within a few months. As the magi traveled back east with the many that were travelling with them, they certainly would have encountered many from Herod's kingdom. Perhaps a report from those returning from the east came to Herod.

Matthew records that Herod had become very enraged. As we have seen, this wasn't out of character for such a paranoid king. I mentioned last time how he murdered three of his sons, his favorite wife, and over half of the ruling Sanhedrin. Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote about this paranoid king, "Despairing of surviving he grew utterly savage, acting with unrestrained anger and bitterness towards all; and the cause was his belief that he was despised, and that the nation took pleasure in his misfortunes" (Antiquities, 17,6,1).

To slay all children under two years of age in the surrounding reach of Bethlehem wasn't out of character for this barbaric king. Especially when you realize that the population of Bethlehem would have been quite small, perhaps a couple thousand. Most estimate the number of babies slaughtered to be anywhere from 20-40 babies. On the one hand, the slaughter wasn't as large as it sounds. Yet, even the slaughter of one baby, is enough to create weeping and mourning.

The weeping is recorded for us in verse 17, "Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, (18) "A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE." Again, we see the sovereign hand of God actively seeing to it that Scripture would be fulfilled.

This quote is taken from Jeremiah 31:15, in which Rachael, though long dead, is personified, as weeping for the nation of Judah, which is soon to go into exile to Babylon. Rachel, of course, was the most beloved wife of Jacob, the idealized mother of Israel. She died in giving birth to Jacob's youngest son, Benjamin, while journeying to Bethlehem Ephrathah (Gen. 35:16-19). For this reason, in Matthew's mind there was certainly a connection between the weeping of Rachel and the location of Bethlehem.

We find again, this curious usage of the word, "to fulfill." If you read Jeremiah, you won't get this sense that Jeremiah was predicting that great weeping would take place during the childhood of the Messiah. I believe that the best way to understand the "fulfillment" of this passage is to see that weeping for the slaughtered children in Bethlehem was simply a greater manifestation of the sorrow surrounding Israel during this difficult time.

In Jeremiah, we find Rachel weeping for her children, in that they are soon to be conquered and exiled into a foreign land, perhaps never to return again. In Matthew, we find Rachel again weeping for the children who have died and will never get the chance to live. This text was fulfilled in Matthew in the sense that similar weeping was experienced. It wasn't as if Jeremiah had predicted that there would be this weeping. It was as if Jeremiah's words were every bit as true and applicable for those weeping women in Bethlehem.

But, all was not lost. The Messiah was saved. Christ had been protected from the evil onslaughts of Herod. In the same way, Jeremiah records in the very next verse, "Thus says the LORD, 'Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded,' declares the LORD, 'And they shall return from the land of the enemy' (Jer. 31:16).

Though there is weeping now for the babies, Herod's plans failed. He didn't get the child he was looking for. Jesus, the ultimate redeemer, was safely hidden in Egypt. We have witnessed the sovereign hand of God, providing protection from Herod (verses 12-18). We now move on to our second point this evening, ...

2. Protection from Archelaus (verses 19-23)

I believe that the theme of this section of scripture is the sovereign hand of God protecting His Son from those who would kill Him. When the time was right, His enemies would succeed in placing Him upon the cross, but it was only because Jesus allowed it. But even then, Jesus said, "I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again" (John 10:18). You also remember that when He was arrested, He willingly gave Himself into the hands of those who had the authority to crucify Him. He didn't resist. But, at this point in the life of Christ, He needed God's sovereign hand of guidance to protect Him. He was but a helpless, small child.

In verse 19, we receive news that Herod died. But Joseph was not to return with his family when Herod died. He was to remain there until the angel appeared again to him (according to verse 13), "remain there until I tell you." In Egypt, Joseph was waiting for God to tell him what to do. He was awaiting another angelic vision.

The reason why he was to wait is because the death of Herod, himself, didn't necessarily mean safety for the child. Think about when we change presidential administrations here in the United States. Many of the policies of the former president still remain in place during the early months of the next president's time in office. As Herod would pass from the scene, his successor would certainly evaluate each of the policies which preceded him. It would take some time to see what exactly the policy maker would do.

In verse 20, we see the angel saying, "Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child's life are dead." It is interesting that it isn't "Him who sought the Child's life is dead." It is plural, "those who sought the Child's life are dead." I told you last week that five days before he died, Herod had his son, Antipater, executed. He was next in line to take over the throne, when Herod died. Perhaps he was equally antagonistic to Jesus as was his father, thus the plural. Perhaps he was even involved in the Jerusalem massacre.

But when they both were dead, verse 21, Joseph, "arose and took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel." We don't know where exactly this was that Joseph sought to settle. The best guess would be that he would have sought to settle back down in his city, the city of Bethlehem. "But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there" (verse 22).

Joseph wasn't a dummy. He knew that Archelaus had certainly learned from his father. He would be jealous of his throne, like his father was (perhaps not the same in extent). Joseph's son would be in danger in Bethlehem.

In fact, when a king first takes over his reign, is often the bloodiest of times. It is a time when the King is seeking out loyalties of his subordinates. Early in King Herod's reign was a time of great slaughter. Even in the early days of King Solomon, there were executions of those who would be a threat to his kingdom: Adonijah and Joab. You can read about this in 1 Kings 2. Even when Archelaus first took his reign, 3000 people were killed in a political uprising.

Joseph's fears were confirmed in the fourth dream of our text, verse 22, "being warned [by God] in a dream, he departed for the regions of Galilee." He traveled back up north another 70 miles, from whence he had come when Mary was pregnant. We don't know how long it was that he was in Bethlehem, or Egypt. Perhaps one to four years, we don't know.

Verse 23 tells us that he "came and resided in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene." Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph were in Nazareth before they traveled down south to Bethlehem. So, it wasn't unfamiliar to them. They were going back to their home town. Luke even calls Nazareth, "their own city" (Luke 2:39). In Nazareth, Jesus would be safe, because Nazareth was not in the jurisdiction of Archelaus. Rather, it was Antipas, who governed that region. He was also known as Herod the tetrarch (Matt. 14:1).

Verse 23 gives us yet another prophecy that was fulfilled. As the other prophecies were difficult to understand, so is this one also. What makes this prophecy particularly difficult is the fact that you won't find this quotation anywhere in the Old Testament. In the other prophecies in this chapter, we were able to go back to the original quotation and discern a little bit concerning the prophecy. Here, you will search in vain.

Some have tried to solve this problem by changing the reference in this verse from Nazarene, to "netser," which means, "sprout" or "shoot" like a "branch." This is done by replacing the Hebrew letter, zayin (i.e. like our letter "z") with the Hebrew letter tsade (i.e. like the combination of our letters, "t" and "s" to make a "ts" sound, as in "rats"). This is a common transliteration. This would allow this to be a reference to the "branch" in Isaiah 11:1. However, the difficulty with this understanding is that this violates the clear context of Matthew. As we have seen, the difficulty in interpreting these fulfillment passages have nothing to do with Matthew. They have everything to do with the context of the quote. Matthew wasn't trying to make a word-play on the city in which Jesus grew up. He was saying that the prophets said that the Messiah would grow up in Nazareth.

Others have tried to solve this problem by changing the reference in this verse from Nazarene, to "Nazirite." This would allow this to be a reference to those who were set-apart in taking the "vow of a Nazirite" (Numbers 6:2). A Nazirite would vow (1) not to drink anything from the fine, (2) not to cut his hair, and (3) not to touch dead bodies. The difficulty with this is that Jesus is nowhere else identified as one who had taken such a vow. If anything, he transgressed these commands by eating and drinking with sinners (Matt. 11:19) and by touching the dead to raise them, as He did for Jairus' daughter (in Matt. 9:25).

I believe that there is a better solution. Matthew was too good a student to overlook the fact that this actual quote wasn't found in the Old Testament Scriptures. He knew full well that this wasn't found in the Old Testament Scriptures.

I believe this is why he changes the wording a touch leading up to this quote. He indicates that this was spoken through the prophets (plural), rather than indicating which particular prophet (singular) actually said it. Furthermore, Matthew doesn't include the word, "saying," as he did in the other quotes in which he quotes the writings of other prophets, "that which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ..." (see 1:22; 2:15, 2:17). Matthew purposefully left this quote very general.

I believe that Matthew was picking up on the modern understanding of the word, "Nazarene," in Jesus' time. To be from Nazareth was to be despised (and looked down upon). There was bigotry against those from Nazareth. You remember the statement that Nathaniel made when Philip first told him that Jesus was the Messiah? Nathaniel said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46). In Acts, they accused Paul of being from the "sect of the Nazarenes" as if this was a derogatory term (Acts 24:5).

I believe that Matthew identified Jesus as being from Nazareth, simply in line of those prophets who anticipated a lowly and rejected Messiah. "He was despised and forsaken of men" (Is. 53:3). Isaiah elsewhere identifies the suffering Servant as, "the despised One, ... the One abhorred by the nation, ... the Servant of rulers" (Is. 49:7). David spoke of the greater one as being "a reproach of men, and despised by the people" (Ps. 22:6). David also spoke, "For Thy sake I have born reproach; dishonor I have covered my face" (Ps. 69:7).

Matthew was simply saying that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a despised community in order that He might be despised and rejected and hated. Being raised in Nazareth, guaranteed that Jesus would be despised by others. Being raised in Nazareth, guaranteed His protection from Archelaus.

There are two themes in Matthew 2.
1. Jesus was the Christ in that He fulfilled the prophecies concerning Him when he was but a child.

- He was born in the right city (Bethlehem) (2:6).
- He traveled to the right places (out of Egypt) (2:15).
- His birth was surrounded by weeping (as Rachel weeps) (2:18).
- He grew up in the right place (in Nazareth) (2:23).

2. Jesus was protected from those who sought to kill him.

- He was protected from Herod (verses 12-18).
- He was protected from Archelaus (verses 19-23).

Let me wrap this up. In preaching to the Athenians, Paul said this of all of us, ... "God made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation" (Acts 17:26). He said that God has determined ...

... their appointed times (WHEN)
... the boundaries of their habitation (WHERE)

God's sovereign hand upon Jesus determined both when and where Jesus would live when upon the earth -- even when He had no earthly control over his life. We must see the sovereign hand of God in the life of Jesus. His life would not finish until He accomplished all that He was sent to do. "A body Thou Hast prepared for Me; ... I have come ... to do Thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:5,7). None of these events in the life of Jesus were accidents. None of these events in the life of Jesus happened by chance. We must see the sovereign hand of God in the life of Jesus.

This is the point of Matthew's argument thus far. Tonight, may we glory in Him, who left glory with the Father and perfect fellowship with Him (John 17:5), to come in the fulness of time (Gal. 4:4), ... to be born and raised exactly as God determined his early years to be. This Jesus, is indeed the Christ, of whom the prophets spoke so long ago.


This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on January 6, 2002 by Steve Brandon.
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