We begin with a thought for the New Year. It’s from Warren W. Wiersbe – “What good is it for us to add years to our life if we don’t add life to our years?”
Now, let’s look together at two parts of the Christmas story which are often overlooked.
(1) Matthew 2:13-23
* “Out of Egypt” – God led Israel out of Egypt. This is a pictorial prophecy rather than a verbal one. Here, there are parallels with the book of Exodus – the murder of babies, the protection of Moses and Jesus.
– Moses is God’s servant, the human leader in God’s purpose for Israel at that time.
– Jesus is God’s Son, the divine Saviour in God’s plan of salvation for every nation and every generation.
Matthew 2:17-18 – This is another pictorial prophecy. Israel’s mourning at the time of the Babylonian captivity is compared to the weeping at the time of Herod’s massacre of the innocents.
The point is clear. Satan attacks the people of God – but he shall not triumph over the purpose of God. This is about more than the safety of Jesus. It’s about our salvation. Later on, there would be suffering for Jesus – the Cross. It’s suffering for Him which brings salvation to us.
Matthew 2:23 – “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Nazareth was an obscure town in Galilee. It was a place of lowly reputation – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). To call Jesus a Nazarene was to fulfil the prophecy that He would be “despised and rejected” (Isaiah 53:3).
He did not come from Nazareth. He came to Nazareth from heaven. He came from heaven to earth to bring us from earth to heaven.
When we think of Christ as “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), we are thinking of His crucifixion.
We must look beyond this. He was rejected by men – and then He was raised by God. He was raised by God so that we might be raised to eternal life.
(2) Luke 2:21-40
In Jesus, salvation has come (Luke 2:30). Our salvation comes to us through His suffering – Mary watched her Son die on the Cross (Luke 2:35).
The journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem was six miles. As a baby, Jesus was taken to the Temple at Jerusalem. 33 years later – only six miles from the place where He was born, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, and there He was crucified for us: “There is a green hill far away outside a city wall where our dear Lord was crucified and died to save us all.”
This is Good News from God. Thanks be to God.
As we compare these two Bible readings from Matthew and Luke, we see that the focus of attention is different.
– Matthew focuses on the opposition from Herod.
– Luke focuses on the praise from Simeon and Anna.
Taking the two together, we have this great message – Even where there is determined opposition, the people of God continue to praise God.
This is God’s Word to us at the beginning of the New Year. He is calling us to keep on praising Him.
Herod’s opposition was just the beginning. The conflict continues.
Christ won the victory for us at the Cross – but the final victory is still to come.
Like Simeon and Anna, let us praise God.