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Lesson 4: The Violent First Few Years Of The Promised King (Matthew 2:13-23)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       The first two chapters are the birth and early childhood narrative of Jesus.

b.      Mathew is doing a couple things here…(it’s difficult to narrow it down to one single thing)

i.  He is showing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT

1.      He relentlessly quotes the OT.

ii.                        He is also showing that people will respond to Jesus in different ways.

1.      The wise men respond one way, and Herod responds another way…

iii.                      He is showing that God is sovereign over this whole story.  Jesus was born into a war zone of sin and evil, and He emerges as the Rescuer and Redeemer and God is shaping history before our very eyes.

iv.                      That’s what Matthew is doing here.

c.       Now the few points of this outline are just recap, but I want us to get a feel for what Matthew is doing in these first two chapters as a whole.

i.  Because these first two chapters are a unit.  He skips about 27 years at the end of chapter two to chapter three.  He totally shifts gears.

ii.                        This is Matthew’s account of the birth and first few years of Jesus, the Long Awaited King and Savior.

II.                      Jesus Christ is Human and Divine in Origin (1:1-25).

a.       Matthew starts off this whole letter by saying he is telling the origin of Jesus Christ.

b.      In verses 1:1-17 he tells of the human origin.

i.  He has a real family tree.

ii.                        He is human.

iii.                      He is the Son of Man

c.       In verses 1:18-25 he tells of the divine origin.

i.  The Virgin Conception of Mary

ii.                        He is God.

iii.                      He is the Son of God.

d.      He is Divine and Human.  He is the God-Man.  Uniquely qualified to be the Savior of the world.  It works.   It’s brilliant.  We could never come up with this.

i.  If you want to start a cult, this is NOT how you do it.

ii.                        You scrap the virgin conception.  That won’t cut it.

III.                   Jesus Christ is Worshiped as the Promised King (2:1-12)

a.       The Wise Men, Gentiles come and worship Jesus.

b.      The Wise Men illustrate the proper response to King Jesus.

c.       The Person of Jesus and the offer of His Kingdom will require a response.

i.  You need to respond!

ii.                        This whole gospel of Matthew is a presentation of Jesus and His Kingdom.

iii.                      Herod responded one way, the Wise men responded another way.

d.      There are two groups of people in the world:  Those who by God’s grace respond to Jesus with faith and repentance; and those who don’t.

i.  Jesus says you are either on the narrow path which leads to life, or the wide path which leads to death.  That’s the path most people take.

ii.                        Paul says there are two groups of people:  Those who are “in Christ” and those are remain “in Adam.”

iii.                      The apostle John says that are those who have “eternal life” and those who don’t.

e.       We will see later in Matthew’s gospel that people will respond to Him in different ways…(The four soils)

i.  Some will respond to this Gospel at first with excitement and anticipation, but then fizzle out.

ii.                        Some people will respond with excitement, but then be lulled away by money and pleasure.

iii.                      Some people will outright reject it.

iv.                      But a few…will here this gospel of the kingdom, will respond with faith and repentance, and bear fruit, and their lives will be totally different.

f.        Here is the proper response (as we will see in Matthew)

i.  “Son of David have mercy on me!”

ii.                        “I am undeserving, but please give me crumbs!” (Syro-Phonician women)

iii.                      Take my life.

iv.                      Take my time.

v.                         Take my resources.

vi.                      Who am I?  Lord have mercy on me!

vii.                    “Whatever you want me to do, I will do…”

viii.                  Whoa is me!  I deserve nothing!

ix.                      You are the Lord, I am not!

g.      Everything hinges on your response to Jesus Christ…

i.  That’s what Matthew is doing here.  He is presenting Jesus Christ.  He is telling the story of Jesus.  And his end goal is to compel you to respond appropriately to Him.

IV.                    Jesus Christ is Sovereignly Protected by God (2:13-23).

a.       The family escape’s to Egypt (2:13-15).

i.  Jesus is born in Bethlehem, six miles outside of Jerusalem.

ii.                        An angel tells Joseph, “arise, go to Egypt because Herod want to destroy Him.”

iii.                      This was a fulfillment of the OT, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

iv.                      This would be about 100 miles.

b.      The massacre (2:16-18).

i.  Now Joseph, Mary, and Jesus are all living in Egypt.

ii.                        Meanwhile Herod tries to kill Jesus and in the process massacres toddlers and babies in a entire county.

iii.                      This story is almost too horrible to even read.  It’s actually amazing that Matthew even records it.  The other gospels leave it out.  (we will get to this more in a bit).

iv.                      But there is tremendous sorrow and weeping because of this.

v.                         One minute you are singing happy birthday to your two-year old boy, and the next thing you know, a Roman guard barges in.

vi.                      This weeping of mothers is also fulfillment of prophecy.

c.       Herod dies (2:19).

i.  And an angel tells Joseph and Co. to head back to Israel.

ii.                        It’s noteworthy that the angel doesn’t tell him to stay in Egypt, but to go to Israel.

1.      Israel is to be the hub.  The Jews are to meet their king.

2.      Egypt comes later.  The Gentiles come later.  But first the gospel needs to be proclaimed to Israel.

d.      The family returns to Nazareth (2:19-23)

i.  An angel tells them to head back.  It’s safe now.

ii.                        They assume they will head back to Judea and settle down, but they hear of Herod’s son, Archelaus, they are afraid, and an angel tells them to go up north to Galilee and settle in Nazareth.

iii.                      This is about 150 miles (according to Google maps)

iv.                      This is also a fulfillment.

e.       Lesson: God is sovereign.

i.  God is clearly in the details of all of this…

1.      He is providentially moving and directly world leaders.

2.      He is providentially orchestrating events.

3.      His angels are administrating His sovereign will of leading and guiding and informing.

ii.                        He is over world events.

iii.                      He is in the details.

iv.                      He is moving history forward according to His plan.

v.                         He is not aloof.  He is not asleep.

vi.                      I don’t know of there is anything more comforting for the Christian, then to remember and recall and be reminded that God is in control.

vii.                    The details and circumstances of your life are not accidental or arbitrary.



V.                       Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Prophecies (2:13-23).

a.       This is clearly one of the main points Matthew is making:  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.  Jesus is the Promised King.

i.  I counted like 66 times that Scripture is either quoted or “fulfilled” in Matthew.

ii.                        This is a major motif that runs through all of Matthew.  Jesus is the fulfillment.

iii.                      This isn’t the beginning of new religion or sect.

1.      This is the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jews and it was happening before their very eyes.

2.      It would be like if there were a prophecy that the Messiah would come to Times Square, and then eat at Subway, then 10 days later travel to St. Louis, and do such and such.

3.      If that actually happened, it would be amazing.

4.      2 Cor. 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

b.      Five times Matthew quotes the Old Testament).

i.  1:23; “Behold a virgin shall conceive…”

1.      The virgin conception was a prophecy…

2.      Fulfilled*

ii.                        2:6, “Bethlehem will produce a ruler, a Shepherd…”

1.      It’s hard to imagine a more clear answer to prophecy—the messiah will be born in Bethlehem.

2.      Fulfilled*

iii.                      2:15, “Out of Egypt I called my son…”

1.      Jesus went and came back from Egypt.

2.      Fulfilled*

iv.                      2:18, “loud lamentation…Rachel weeping for her children..”

1.      Fulfilled*

v.                         2: 23, “He shall be called a Nazarene…”

1.      Fulfilled*

2.      This somewhat of a problem, because there is no specific OT passage that says this…so what does Matthew mean?

a.       Some say that possibly Matthew is referring to Is. 11:1 which says, “A shoot will come up from Jesse; from his roots a Branch [neser] will bear fruit.”

b.      It’s possible that people connected “Nezer” with Nazarene.

3.      But I think it’s more likely that Matthew is saying that the prophets predicted the Messiah would be scorned.  He would be mocked.  He is not quoting a specific verse, he is being general.  The prophets repeatedly said that the Messiah would be called names.

a.       For instance, “He would be called a Nazarene…”  Which was derogatory.

b.      Like saying, “Jesus, from the land of pudunk”  or “Jesus, the backwoods boy.”

c.       It’s basically a mockery.

d.      It was a name used to mock the idea that He could be the Promised Messiah.

4.      And all through His entire life He would be mocked and belittled for this.

a.       “Jesus the Nazarene”

b.      “No, He’s just the carpenters son.”  “He’s a hick.”

c.       “The Messiah can’t be Jesus, we know his ‘so-called father’…He’s a bastard child” (and if that offends you, that you are on the right track to knowing the derision and contempt that Jesus felt).

d.      He was scorned, as the prophet Isaiah says.

5.      There is no reason to believe that things will be different for us.

a.       It will not be cool to identify with Jesus.

b.      You will be called Exclusive.  Narrow. Backwoods. Backwards.

c.       The powers of this world will hold you in low regard, just like they powers of this world held Jesus in low regard.

6.      Think about this: Nazareth is where Jesus grew up…

a.       He grew up in the country.

b.      He wasn’t from wealthy means.  He didn’t grow up in a palace.  He didn’t have maids and butlers and nice camels.

c.       He grew up as a poor country boy.

d.      The son of a carpenter.

e.       The next verse and chapter skips about 30 years…

f.        So for the first 27 years of his life, he studied the Old Testament like all the other kids, even the poorest kids.

g.      He studied as an apprentice under Joseph his father.

h.      He leaned the basic skills of young Palestinian boys, like milking a goat, making cheese, tending a flock, feeding sheep, hammering nails.  Learning Aramaic, a little Greek, and probably a little Latin (Romans)

7.      He grew up as a common poor boy—a Nazarene.

a.       Think of Jesus as a toddler. Was he a ham?

b.      Think of Jesus as a teenager.  Maybe he had acne?

c.       Think of Jesus in his mid-20’s--hammering nails?  Did he ever hit his thumb?

d.      Think of Jesus learning and asking questions and praying.

e.       Think of Jesus playing Palestinian pick-up football with his brothers…

VI.                    Jesus Christ is born into a world of Violence, Brutality, and Evil (2:13-23).

a.       This is a violent section of Scripture…

i.  This…story…is…brutal…

ii.                        Think about this…the beginning and the end of Jesus life is marked with violence, hatred, sin, and evil.

iii.                      The bookends of Jesus earthly life are acts of horror.

b.      I think Matthew is making a point…

i.  Here is Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and yet He is surrounded by weeping and war.

ii.                        Tears and sorrow make up the world we live in.

iii.                      Pain and hurt and tears and death are our world.

iv.                      Brokenness, heartache, pain, disappointment, and sin is the air we breath.

v.                         If the GOSPEL can flourish in a town of innocent toddlers being murdered, the gospel can flourish ANYWHERE.

vi.                      This is why Jesus came!!!  To put an end to the hostility—both inside and out!

c.       If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, where is the peace?

i.  The peace that Jesus brings comes in stages:

1.      The apostle Paul says that His first coming resulting in a legal justification and a positional peace with God.

2.      Then comes the peace on earth during the full inauguration of His Kingdom during the Millennium.

3.      Then comes a final, everlasting peace on heaven and earth, for eternity.

ii.                        So His peace is a much-needed peace, because the world is evil.

d.      Sin is in the world.  It is the world we live in.

i.  The Christian worldview is that only worldview that makes sense of sin and evil.

ii.                        How do you make sense of evil from a naturalistic perspective?

iii.                      Macro-evolution doesn’t have any concept for evil and violence.

1.      Why is life important?

2.      Try to explain that from a atheistic naturalistic perspective…

3.      Try to make sense of massacres without a concept of right and wrong…

4.      From a naturalistic perspective, why shouldn’t the strong kill the weak?

a.       Isn’t that what happens when someone murders?

5.      It’s very difficult, and takes a great deal of self-deception to lament the strong overcoming the weak and at the same time parade a macro-evolution that makes no room for God…

iv.                      This is a great conversation with unbelievers by the way…

1.      Ask skeptics why human beings have intrinsic value?

2.      The Biblical worldview says that people are made in God’s image, stamped with importance and value.

v. Story of Fredrick Copelston and Bertrand Russell:

1.      Ravi Zacharius tells the story of the famous debate between Fredrick Copleston and Bertrand Russell.  “At one point in the debate, Copleston said, “Mr. Russell, you believe in good and bad, don’t you?” Russell answered, “Yes, I do.”  “How do you differentiate between them?” challenged Copelston. Russell shrugged his shoulders as he was wont to do in philosophical dead ends for him and said, “The same way I differentiate between yellow and blue.”  Copleston graciously responded and said, “But Mr. Russell, you differentiate between yellow and blue by seeing, don’t you? How do you differentiate between good and bad?”  Russell, with all of his genius still within reach, gave the most vapid answer he could have given: “On the basis of feeling—what else?”  I must confess, Mr. Copleston was a kindler gentleman than many others.  The appropriate “logical kill” for the moment would have been, “Mr. Russell, in some cultures they love their neighbors; in other cultures they eat them, both on the basis of feeling.  Do you have any preference?”

2.      Ravi goes on to add, “When you say there is evil, aren’t you admitting there is good?  When you accept the existence of God, you must affirm a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil.  But when you admit to a moral law, you must posit a moral lawgiver.  If there is no moral lawgiver, there is no moral law.  If there is no moral law, there is no good.  If there is no good, then there is no evil.”

vi.                      But as this narrative tell us, and as we know intuitively and by our own experience, there IS EVIL in the world!

1.      Nazi death camps, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Soviet gulags

2.      Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, Pol Pot and Charles Manson, Idi Amin and Ted Bundy. Osama bin Laden and Anders Behring Brevik.

vii.                    TIME magazine gave a mini report a few weeks ago on the global crisis of conflict.  The National Intelligence Council gave a forecast of what the state of the world will be like in 2030.

1.      “Among the predictions: The Chinese economy will have eclipsed the U.S.’s; Japan and Europe will continue their demographic declines; the threat of conflicts will increase as the global order fractures.

viii.                  I read a number of reports from the National Intelligence Council and many of them reported concerns over seismic population growth, potential conflict over water and food resources.

1.      “The world of 2030 will be one in which the greatest strain within and between countries could be the struggle for resources — food, water and energy.” Reports the Washington Post.

ix.                      There will be massive demand for food, water, and resources as China, Brazil, and India experience growth.

x.                         Conflict will come, and it could come in the form of mass causalities, or mass disturbance of the economy through cyber attacks.

xi.                      In the past 5,560 years there have been nearly 15,000 wars.

e.       Sin in our own hearts.

i.  In a few chapters Jesus will explain that the reason for murder, and massacres, and rape, and selfishness and pride is because we have sin deeply rooted inside us.

ii.                        Our hearts are a factory for drumming up and producing sin.  We have an assembly line of sin within us.

iii.                      In their Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Half the Sky,

1.      Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn report on [the] worldwide slavery [in sex trafficking], telling stories of girls who had been kidnapped or taken from their families and then sold as sex slaves. These girls, many under ten years of age, are drugged, beaten, raped, and forced to sell their bodies night after night. It is a slavery even more horrifying than the slavery colonial America practiced, and the numbers are beyond imagination.

2.      Kristof reports that it is far more effective to crack down on the perpetrators than to try to rescue the victims. That is because rescuing the girls from external slavery is the "easy part," but rescuing them from the beast within, such as the drug addictions that cause them to return or the shame they feel, is enormously challenging. They keep returning to their abusers.

3.      Kristof tells of rescuing Momm, a Cambodian teen who had been enslaved for five years. Momm was on the edge of a breakdown—sobbing one moment, laughing hysterically the next. She seized the chance to escape, promising she'd never return. When Kristof drove Momm back to her village, Momm saw her aunt, screamed, and leapt out of the moving car.

4.      A moment later, it seemed as if everybody in the village was shrieking and running up to Momm. Momm's mother was at her stall in the market a mile away when a child ran up to tell her that Momm had returned. Her mother started sprinting back to the village, tears streaming down her cheeks …. It was ninety minutes before the shouting died away and the eyes dried, and then there was an impromptu feast.

5.      Truly it was a great rescue—and there was singing and dancing and celebrating, reminiscent of the singing and dancing of Miriam and the Israelite women when they were rescued out of their slavery in Egypt.

6.      But as with the Israelites, the celebration didn't last long. Early one morning Momm left her father and her mother without a word and returned to her pimp in Poipet. Like many girls in sex slavery, she had been given methamphetamine to keep her compliant. The craving had overwhelmed her. No doubt she thought, I just have to have this or I can't go on. Perhaps she imagined she'd be able to escape after she got it, but even if she didn't, she thought, I have to have this.

i.  Charles Hodge,

7.      “Our guilt is great because our sins are exceedingly numerous. It is not merely outward acts of unkindness and dishonesty with which we are chargeable; our habitual and characteristic state of mind is evil in the sight of God. Our pride, vanity, and indifference to His will and to the welfare of others, our selfishness, our loving the creature more than the Creator, are continuous violations of His holy law. We have never been or done what that law requires us to be and to do. We have never had that delight in the divine perfection, that sense of dependence and obligation, that fixed purpose to do the will and promote the glory of God, which constitute the love which is our first and highest duty. We are always sinners; we are at all times and under all circumstances in opposition to God, because we are never what His law requires us to be. If we have never made it our purpose to do His will, if we have never made His glory the end of our actions, then our lives have been an unbroken series of transgressions. Our sins are not to be numbered by the conscious violations of duty; they are as numerous as the moments of our existence.” Charles Hodge-one of the early Princeton theologians.

ii.                        We are in a perpetual state of sin outside of Christ.

f.        Jesus has come to deal with sin…

i.  He deals with the fundamental problem of the world—sin.

ii.                        Answer: Jesus was born into this world to deal with sin and death.

iii.                      Luke 1:79, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

iv.                      We need a context.  Good news of great joy only makes sense where there has been bad news and great sorrow.

v.                         And there has been a lot of bad news and great sorrow for the past few millennia.

vi.                      Peace on earth makes the most sense, and is only good news when there is violence on earth.

vii.                    Cain killed Abel, and people have been killing each other ever since.

viii.                  As we saw in our last passage in Matthew, The Christmas story starts off with Jesus being born into a war zone, with a paranoid psychopath killing a village and a whole region of baby boys.

ix.                      The end of this story is a story of an exalted Savior who did a check-mate on death and sin and evil.

1.      But the drama of human history isn’t finished.

2.      He is coming again!

g.      What is our response to evil?  How should we think of this world we live in?

i.  Expect sin and evil.

1.      Don’t excuse it.  Don’t justify it.  But expect it.

2.      Affirm the sinfulness of sin and evil.

3.      Christianity doesn’t deny evil, or rename evil as some religions do.

4.      Christianity doesn’t see this as a mental illness as the root issue.

5.      Our hearts are dark.

6.      Don’t expect regenerate behavior from unregenerate people.

7.      This is exactly as Jesus said it would be.

ii.                        Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

1.      We have the answer!

2.      It’s the most relevant message in the whole world!!

3.      It’s a message that recognizes evil and sin and reality, and weeps with those who weep; but also proclaims Great News in the midst of pain, sorrow, and weeping.

4.      There IS HOPE!  Real HOPE!

VII.                Application—Exalt and Enjoy Jesus from Nazareth.

a.       Matthew has a purpose when he is writing all of this.

i.  Keep in mind that Matthew is one of the 12 apostles.

ii.                        His life was forever changed by this teenager from Nazareth.

iii.                      Matthew’s ultimate goal in this gospel is to hold high Jesus of Nazareth!

iv.                      Matthew wants people to know and worship and enjoy His son.

v.                         Matthew wants us to be aware of the unusual events of Christ’s life.

vi.                      God is ALL OVER this story.

vii.                    World History is being shaped before our eyes in this story!

viii.                  This Jesus is worthy of our worship.

ix.                      The Davidic King of the promised kingdom that has been proclaimed is now here!

x.                         This is HUGE.

b.      This Jesus is fully human.

i.  He identifies with sinners.

ii.                        His genealogy includes prostitutes and murderers.

iii.                      He takes pity on sinners.

c.       This Jesus is fully divine.

i.  His birth is not normal.

ii.                        He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

iii.                      As the God-man He is uniquely qualified to be the Savior!

iv.                      God’s can’t die, and human’s can’t atone for sin.

v.                         But the God-man is the perfect solution.

d.      This Jesus is lowly.

i.  He is born in a feeding trough.

ii.                        He confines Himself to a human body.  Much like a dog-owner becoming a dog.

iii.                      He is from Nazareth.

iv.                      He comes as a Servant-Savior.

v.                         He says He comes not be served, but to serve.

vi.                      He washes dirty feet.

vii.                    He willingly, and even joyfully endures a Roman cross.  A crown of thorns.  A lacerated back.  Spitting.  Mocking.  All because God so loved the world!

viii.                  He absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf.

ix.                      In our place condemned He stood.

e.       This Jesus is the opposite of Herod.

i.  Herod is proud.

ii.                        Jesus is humble.

iii.                      Herod is a liar.

iv.                      Jesus is the Truth.

v.                         Herod holds on to his power to be saved.

vi.                      Jesus gives up His power to save.

vii.                    Herod lives in a temple.

viii.                  Jesus lives in Nazareth.

ix.                      Herod wears robes.

x.                         Jesus wears rags.

xi.                      Herod commits the mass murder of many.

xii.                    Jesus gets murdered FOR many.

xiii.                  Jesus is totally different from this world and from the world’s leaders.

f.        Let’s join Matthew in worship and adoring and exalting this Jesus from Nazareth.

i.  He is excellent at everything He does.

ii.                        He is excellent as a King.

iii.                      He is excellent as a Savior.

iv.                      He is excellent as a High Priest.

v.                         He is excellent as a Servant.

vi.                      He is excellent when He loves.

vii.                    He is excellent when He forgives.

viii.                  He is excellent when He restores.

ix.                      He is excellent when He rebukes sin and evil and wickedness.

x.                         He is excellent as a Judge.

xi.                      He is perfect in holiness.

xii.                    He is perfectly in humility.

xiii.                  "Unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again, you will never come to the bottom of these depths. How many millions of dazzling pearls and gems are at this moment hid in the deep recesses of he ocean caves."  - Robert M'Cheyne

g.      How do we exalt Christ?

i.  By confessing sin and repenting.

ii.                        By enjoying Him.

iii.                      Give yourself to Him.

iv.                      Rededicate yourself to Him!

Related Topics: Character of God, Christology, Prophecy/Revelation, Soteriology (Salvation)

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