Christ’s Birth, Joseph’s Obedience, and the Significance for Our Lives
Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Scripture: Matthew 2:13-23 NRSV
The typical Christmas story sounds like this, “An angel told the magi to follow a star to Bethlehem where the Messiah would be born. They brought three gifts, gold, francinces, and myrrh to the manger where Jesus rested with his mother Mary and Joseph. The end.” This brief story is depicted in holiday plays, cards, and even on christmas decorations. But do you know the continued story behind Christmas? I want to invite you to a short study on the extended version of Christs’ birth and the implications it has for our lives. The book of Matthew and Luke are the only gospels that outline Jesus’ early childhood, in this blog, I will solely focus on Matthew’s perspective.
Some scholars say the author of Matthew is an interpreter of the law due to the various scriptures where Jesus uses common Jewish practices of interpretation to teach people; such as Matthew chapters 5, 8, 12, etc. Yet, the early childhood of Christ didn’t start with a law interpretation, it was ignited by fulfilling the Old Testament scriptures where it was prophesied that the Messiah would come. Matthew 2 outlines three ways Jesus fulfilled the scriptures, three instances Joseph was led by the spirit, and how this can speak to our lives.
Jesus’ arrival fulfilled many prophecies spoken of the coming Messiah in the Old Testament but Matthew 2:15-23 outlines three. The savior was born in a manger and quickly became a refugee as he was carried off to Egypt to escape premature death (Matt 2:14). This fulfilled the prophecy spoken in Hosea 11:1 that states, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son”. Then King Herod mandated a city wide mascarre to murder innocent male children in hopes of preserving his title as King (Matt 2:16-18). Next, Herod begins massacarring children based on the magi’s timeline which fulfilled the prophetic scripture at Jeremiah 31:15. Finally, Jesus is settled in Nazareth and the author of Matthew asserts that this fulfills the words of prophets that stated, the messiah would be called a Nazarene. As a baby, Jesus was hunted down, became a refugee, and eventually settled in a poor land.
The star and light of the world possibly evoked more trouble for Mary and Joseph than they probably ever had before. I don’t think they were ready to handle the immense responsibility of handling God's package between countries with tender care. However, I’m sure they still managed to handle Jesus with more care than USPS does with my packages, I digress lol. Jesus was handled with care not only because He was the son of God but because Mary and Joseph listened to God and moved abruptly. They were not hesitant to follow the angels' commands. Matthew 2:13, 19, 20 shares how an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and he followed the lead each time.
First, the angel shared with Joseph to go to Egypt and stay there until further instruction because Herod was seeking to kill Jesus. Then the angel told Joseph to return back to Israel because Herod died. Lastly, Joseph was warned to travel to Nazareth to hide away from Herod’s descendants. Each time Joseph heard the angel, he moved. He didn’t hesitate, he didn’t ask questions...he moved. I must add, asking questions isn’t a bad thing but there is something to be said of someone who trusts, relies on your lead, and allows you to be in control. Joseph allowed the Angel to be in control and lead every step of the journey. They traveled over thousands of miles to seek refuge multiple times and eventually resided in a poor land where they were safe and protected from Herod’s motives to silence the holy throne.
The scriptures were fulfilled three times and Joseph actively obeyed three times, so what does that mean for us today? As we find solemn ways to cherish this season, some of us have endured one of the toughest years of our lives from our personal struggles to the coronavirus outbreak to police brutality followed by civil unrest and protest. This year has been mentally exhausting and there’s no telling what the future will hold. Just as Joseph, Mary, and Jesus sought refuge in each new territory, we are also seeking shelter from life's woes. Feels like the “Herod’s” of life are seeking to kill our spirits in hopes of dominating our minds with worry and fear. But just as the angel told Joseph to not fear (Matt 1:20), I’m here to tell you not to fear in life’s challenges.
I know it’s easier said than done but the beautiful part of Christ’s birth is, God used ordinary people to execute his divine plans. They were poor and relied on God for everything they had. Their economic status is proof that God isn’t concerned with wealth, the Lord wants our heart. Therefore, it is apparent that God requests that we obey and listen to his commands whether we are rich or poor. The angel was a messenger of God sent to guide Joseph on the next big decision for the world’s sake. Joseph listened intently and moved accordingly. How are you doing with listening to God? Are you moving as soon as you hear the spirit's nudge to do something? Or are you waiting and contemplating the small instructions given to you? Are you listening to God on the next big decision to make?
I believe this year wasn’t by mistake. I think God is resetting our lives in the midst of a pandemic but it’s up to us to accept the change and move forward to carry out the plans He has for us. Christ’s birth is monumental to our faith because it bridges the ancient text to the contemporary world. Christ didn’t only live and die on earth, He defeated death and is alive eternally. I believe God is calling you to sit and listen to the spirit of God and move purposefully. Do not wait any longer and do not be afraid because the Lord is always with you-Emmanuel (Matt 1:23).
Until Next Time,
***Peace and Blessings, XOXO***