Setting The Stage

Another but about it

But when he (Joseph) heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. On his deathbed, King Herod divided the kingdom he ruled among his sons. Historians tell us that Archelaus, who was given responsibility over the regions of Judea and Samaria, was particularly cruel. Immediately after his accession to the throne there was an uprising among the Jews, which the new king met with an order to massacre some three thousand as they observed Passover. This but represents another important juncture in the journey—it tells us of Joseph’s reluctance to move his family back to Judea. Here again, God showed up in a dream to give Joseph guidance. The God-given direction moved the family back to the region of Galilee, and to the town of Nazareth. This, Matthew says, fulfills another of those old prophecies about the Deliverer—that “he will be called a Nazarene.”

More important than casting doubts on a popular Christmas carol or manger scenes, in chapter 2, Matthew demonstrates God’s very particular arrangement of events. The places, players and the circumstances are all worked together so that each step of Jesus’ arrival into this world perfectly fit. The Bread of Life came forth from the city of bread. God was in the details to meet the needs of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. He worked things together so that earnest seekers would indeed find the Deliverer, while the callous indifference of those who were not genuinely God-seekers would be revealed. All of it came together to perfectly line up and further unfold God’s story. This is Jesus, the promised King of the Jews.

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