DUNCAN/Flight, murder, and return from Egypt
Please turn in your Bible to Matthew 2:13-23. As we have opened this glorious gospel in the last few weeks, Matthew has given us the genealogy of Jesus Christ, recounted the story of His virgin birth, and witnessed to the divinity of our Savior and His almighty and all sufficient saving power. And this week, we read another glorious passage packed with gospel truth as Matthew addresses Jesus’ flight to Egypt and return to Nazareth. Specifically, we learn three important things from this passage. First, we learn that Christ’s person, life, and circumstances were foretold in scripture. Secondly, we see that Christ’s trials were part of God’s plan and under His sovereignty. Thirdly and finally, we learn that Christ’s vicarious sufferings began in His earliest days.
I. Christ’s Person, Life, and Circumstances Were Foretold In Scripture.
This passage teaches us that the person of Christ, who He is, His nature, what He is like, His life, and the circumstances of His life were all foretold in the scriptures of the Old Testament. First, in verse 15, Matthew tells us that Jesus would come out of Egypt, just as it was spoken by the prophet those many hundred years before in Hosea 11:1. These words of Hosea are fulfilled in the life of Jesus as he goes down into Egypt to escape Herod and His family later brings him out of that land. Secondly, in verse 17, Matthew says that what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled. In that circumstance, Herod had slain the sons under the age of two in Bethlehem and its immediate environment, a horrible deed worthy of temporal and eternal punishment, and yet this deed was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:15. And then finally in verse 23, the truth that the prophet taught, that the Messiah, when He came would be despised by His own people, is encapsulated in the phrase, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Thus, Jesus is considered to be one from Galilee not from Judah, and surely not one to admire, obey, or worship in the eyes of the orthodox Jews of the day.
Over and over Matthew tells us in this passage that Jesus in His person, in His life, and in His circumstances fulfills scripture, and that everything in the life of Christ is set forth and bounded by scripture. Jesus literally lived by the Book in accordance with precisely the things that God had set down in the scriptures of the Old Testament. Yet, we must admit that we struggle with living by the Book. There are times when the Bible says one thing, and our hearts want to do another. In such times, we must ask ourselves, “Will we live by the Book, or will we live by our wills?” Jesus lived by the Book, and we too must live by the Book.
II. Christ’s Trials Were Part Of God’s Plan and Under His Sovereignty.
This passage also teaches us that Christ’s trials were part of God’s plan and under God’s sovereignty. In other words, God ordained the trials in the life of Joseph and Mary and His Son, our Lord Jesus. The things that Matthew records in this passage were not accidents. And they were not even just tragedies, though that they were. They were what God had ordained for His Son. First, in verses 14-15, we are told that it was God’s plan for His own dear Son to be displaced from the land of His birth and to live in a strange land away from His relatives and a familiar environment. Secondly, in verses 16-17, we learn that as the Lord Jesus went to Egypt that Herod murdered all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinities. Finally, in verses 22-23, we are told that as the Lord Jesus comes back from Egypt with His parents that they are warned not to settle there because the son of Herod was reigning over Judea in the place of his father. So Jesus had to live in the district of Galilee, a place that was looked down upon by everyone who was of upstanding Jewish lineage.
Throughout scripture we learn that the Father willed these difficulties to come into the life of His precious Son. Now we have to stop and we have to ask ourselves, “Why would the Father do this?” There are two answers given to us in scripture. The first answer is that the Father willed this for His Son for your sake and my sake. Jesus bore these things for our sins. Secondly, the Father willed these difficulties on His Son for His good, for His growth, and for His conformity. Specifically, the writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 5, verse 8 that “although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” And we in our own trials must keep in view Christ’s trials. Christian, please know that every trial, every heartbreak, every grief, every painful experience, if you are His, is not meant to harm you. It is an expression of His love and when you experience that discipline, you are experiencing the discipline that the Father gave to His own Son. Only in Christ are the trials of our lives redeemed and given meaning. Come to Christ and find meaning, even in your trials.
III. Christ’s Vicarious Sufferings Began In His Earliest Days.
One final truth that Matthew teaches us in this passage is that Christ’s vicarious sufferings began from His earliest days. Christ’s sufferings were experienced on our behalf. He suffered in our place. And that is a great truth of Christianity. As believers, we all reflect upon the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered on the cross. Yet, this passage reminds us that His sufferings began long before the cross. From His earliest days Jesus began to suffer on our behalf. And it is important to realize, my friends, that the Lord Jesus chose each of these things in the counsels of eternity. What a Savior we have in Jesus Christ. A Savior whose days were set forth in scripture. A Savior who lived by the Book. A Savior whose life was ordained by God, for our sakes, and for His good. And a Savior who willingly bore the reproach for you and me. Have you embraced Jesus? Do you want to face the Father one day and say, “I did not need that glorious Man.” Or do you want to face the Father and say, “Your Son embraced me by grace and I come to you as your son or your daughter because of Him.” May God, by His grace, enable us to know and embrace Jesus Christ, who purchased us with His own blood and suffered in our place.