Thursday, 9 February 2012

Word 3:45 Two: Matthew 2

Matthew 2


Matthew's gospel moves very quickly from Jesus's genealogy, a few paragraphs about his birth (compared to Luke who spends two chapters there) and straight on to the visit of the Magi, then Herod's plans to find and kill Jesus.

Verses 22-23 of Matthew 1 reads, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel'(which means “God with us”)."  This is a recurring theme throughout Matthew's gospel; he constantly points to the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, and then shows that Jesus was fulfilling them.  The phrase, "this took place to fulfill the prophecy.." or similar, occurs once in Matthew 1 (not including the entire genealogy, which we saw last time is a great long list of fulfilled promises) and three times in Matthew 2, and that's just for starters!



In Matthew 2 we get political refugees and infant genocide.  We wouldn't normally call it that, because it's all couched safely in different words than that, but that's what it comes down to.  Joseph and Mary have to flee to Egypt with Jesus, to avoid the slaughter of all young boys that was ordered by a paranoid Herod.  


Matthew 2 is a short chapter, just 21 verses, and most of it is very well known.  It's straight-forward enough, but one question I have is why go to Egypt?  Why not forget about the whole incident, or perhaps God could have directed the wise men directly to Bethlehem instead of to King Herod?  There are parallels with Moses, who led the people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, which could well be what Matthew is highlighting here.  


I should mention at this point that Luke's gospel doesn't have the 'flight to Egypt', but Matthew and Luke aren't contradicting each other - it's just that they're highlighting certain events.  Luke doesn't feel it's relevant to include the flight to Egypt, but Matthew does, for other reasons.  Matthew is aiming throughout his gospel to highlight how Jesus was foretold in the Old Testament, and the parallels with other Old Testament characters help him to support and highlight this point.





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