by Mark A. Copeland
1. A remarkable feature concerning the gospel records is their brevity...
a. Especially related to the early life of Jesus, following His birth
b. Mark and John relate nothing about this period of Jesus' life
c. Only Matthew and Luke record something about the first thirty years
2. Other than the visit of the wise men, Matthew records only...
a. The flight to Egypt - Mt 2:13-15
b. The massacre by Herod - Mt 2:16-18
c. The return to Nazareth - Mt 2:19-23
3. Why did Matthew record only these three events? Are there any lessons to be gleaned from what we know of the early years of Jesus?
[In an effort to answer such questions, let's take a few moments and first examine the text of Mt 2:13-23...]
I. MATTHEW'S ACCOUNT OF THE EARLY YEARS OF JESUS
A. THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT...
1. Precipitated by the angel's warning - Mt 2:13-14
a. Joseph was told to take Mary and the Child to Egypt
b. For Herod was seeking to destroy Jesus
2. Remaining there until the death of Herod - Mt 2:15
a. The sojourn and eventual departure from Egypt fulfilled prophecy - Hos 11:1
b. For the exodus of Israel alluded to in Hosea was evidently a type or shadow of the Messiah's own call out of Egypt
B. THE MASSACRE OF THE INFANTS...
1. Herod's angry decree - Mt 2:16
a. Having been frustrated in his original plans - Mt 2:7-8,12
b. Ordering the death of all male children, two and under, in Bethlehem and surrounding districts
2. Jeremiah's prophecy - Mt 2:17-18
a. This terrible calamity had been foreseen - Jer 31:15
b. For the exile of Israel alluded to in Jeremiah was likewise a type or shadow of the grief that would be experienced again in the region where Rachel was buried
C. THE RETURN TO NAZARETH...
1. Joseph was directed via dreams - Mt 2:19-22
a. First, to return to Israel, for Herod was dead
b. Then, to go to Galilee instead of Judea, for Herod's son Archelaus was reigning in Judea
2. Residing in Nazareth, another fulfillment of prophecy - Mt 2:23
a. The prophecy "He shall be called a Nazarene" was based upon the words of
several prophets ("which was spoken by the prophets")
b. There are at least two possibilities as to what is meant...
1) "It may be that this term of contempt (Jn 1:46; 7:52) is what is meant, and
that several prophecies are to be combined like Ps 22:6,8; 69:11,19; Isa 53:2-4."
- Robertson's Word Pictures
2) "Verse 23 alludes to Isa. 11:1, which states that a "branch" (netser, Heb.)
will grow out of the roots of Jesse (cf. Jer 23:5). Under this view, "branch"
and "Nazarene" share the same root (nzr, Heb.), and "branch" refers to the
coming ruler of Davidic descent. Although they used a different word, other
prophets also spoke of the Messiah in terms of the "branch" (Jer. 23:5; Zech
3:8; 6:12), and Matthew could legitimately say that this
prediction was "spoken by the prophets" (vv. 6, 15)."
- Believer's Study Bible
[It should be apparent that Matthew selected those events in Jesus' early life which were foretold by the prophets. This assisted him in his purpose to show his Jewish readers that Jesus was truly the Messiah for Whom they were looking! Now for a couple of...]
II. LESSONS TO BE GLEANED FROM JESUS' EARLY YEARS
A. WORLDLY RULERS ARE OFTEN OPPOSED TO GOD'S RULE...
1. This is seen throughout Jesus' life and the period following
a. Herod the Great, upset at His birth - Mt 2:1-3,16
b. Herod Antipas, who had John imprisoned and beheaded - Mt 4:12;14:1-12
c. The leaders of Israel
1) Who plotted against Jesus - Mt 26:3-4; 27:1-2
2) Who attempted to cover up His resurrection - Mt 28:11-15
3) Who sought to prevent the apostles from telling their story - Ac 4:1-3,18; 5:40; 24:1-5
2. We should not be surprised if the same should happen to us today
a. Jesus warned that such might happen - Jn 15:18-20
b. Satan will certainly do all that he can to stop us
1) He was behind the efforts to persecute Christ and His church - Re 12:3-5,17; 1Pe 5:8-9
2) He made use of kings to war against the Lamb and His followers - Re 17:12-14
3) And will do so again - cf. Re 20:7-9
-- But as prophesied, all such efforts are for naught! - cf. Ps 2:1-12
B. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS CAN'T HINDER THE ADVANCE OF GOD'S WILL...
1. Jesus' beginnings did not prevent Him from doing great things
a. Even though He lived in exile and relative obscurity at the beginning (in Egypt)
b. Even though He was raised in a town despised by others (Nazareth)
2. The example of Jesus' humility ought to inspire us
a. To accept the mind of Christ, especially in relation to our brethren - Php 2:5-8
b. To accept whatever area of service we might have in life
- cf. Ps 84:10
-- For those who humble themselves will be exalted at the right time - cf. 1Pe 5:5-7
1. What we know of Jesus' early years is very little
2. But it is sufficient to confirm that He was truly the Messiah...
a. Who would be "despised and rejected by men" - Isa 53:3
b. Against whom "the kings of the earth set themselves" - Ps 2:2-3
3. And it should be sufficient to remind His disciples...
a. That we can expect the same treatment - 2Ti 3:12
b. That we seek to emulate the same example of humility and willingness to suffer for the will of God - 1Pe 2:21
Are you willing to humbly serve and even suffer persecution for Jesus "the Nazarene"?
Source: Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011
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