This is the last of our reposts. Tomorrow you will get a brand new post, but for now, enjoy this post. I’m just sorry that we weren’t able to keep Erica Reinmiller’s comment on this post. It was very insightful and helpful to any who would have read it. Maybe, just maybe, she might be able to remember what she said and repost her comment.
I remain surprised and pleasantly interested in the fact that Matthew continues to focus on Joseph as the person who receives the insight and the messages from the Lord. Remember in 1 it was Joseph who was approached by the angel, and not Mary. Here twice we find Joseph taking the initiative and being warned in a dream to flee to Egypt and then again to settle in Nazareth. Joseph does seem like a forgotten figure in Scripture, and often is portrayed as the one who is merely a pawn while everyone else dictates to him what ought to be happening. Not so in Matthew, he is not only decisive, but also the one chosen by the Lord to receive the messages of what comes next. Caravaggio’s depiction of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt is a classic, with Joseph being the one holding the music for the angel Gabriel.
This chapter does contain a number of passages that need to be fleshed out, but our space is limited. The family has transitioned from the manger and the holding pen to a house (vs. 11) where the wise men visit Jesus and offer him three gifts. We do not know their names, any of them, and we do not know that there were three, although we do know that there were three gifts. All interesting details that our culture and tradition has taken and developed it into something that is more than what Scripture allows.
So what do we learn about Jesus? Well we certainly see that he is a survivor. Even in the midst of the tragedy of the massacre commanded by Herod, the Lord has protected him and allowed him to carry out his purposes. That is something that we can take away as well. We must be survivors, and know with confidence that the Lord will protect us and keep us under his watchful gaze so that we can carry out His plans. In this time of fear in which we live, we can easily devolve into people who are so afraid of what comes next that we do not take steps forward that might involve risk. We miss the fact that sometimes it takes risk in order to carry out God’s plans. The trip to Egypt was long and dangerous, but it was one that Joseph knew his family had to take. The alternative was safer, was easier, just stay in Bethlehem until they could travel again. But God had a plan and knew that Herod would send his mercenaries to slaughter all those who might be the same age as their son. The family couldn’t know the reason why they were told to go to Egypt, they just went. Security and safety in the Lord’s protection is not always what seems the safest, but is always what He tells us to do.