The Life of Jesus Christ: Jesus' Birth and Emergency Holiday to Egypt

The Life of Jesus Christ
Part 2 :: Jesus’ Birth and Emergency Holiday to Egypt 

Last week we looked at the Life of Jesus before His birth. That is, we discussed the eternality of the Son of God before He was born into this world, in a specific time and place. The genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 helped us see the powerful lineage of Jesus, His mother and earthly, adoptive father. These records breathe in a rich history of divine prophecy, emancipation and grace, even without a reference to a specific Old Testament text. We saw that the Father only had one plan of redemption: Jesus the Son.  

Today we celebrate Christmas in April. Looking specifically at Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth will help us see in it something special, transformational, and perhaps unconventional.

“Matthew builds almost every paragraph following the genealogy and preceding the Sermon of the Mount around at least one text of Scripture. He thus invites us to read Jesus in light of Scripture and Scripture in light of Jesus - to recognize that the person and work of Jesus are central to Scripture’s character.” Craig Keener 

“Although Matthew and Luke both present Jesus’ birth, they do so from different angles. Matthew tells the story from the perspective of Joseph, with a strong emphasis on the fulfillment of Scripture. Luke gives the account from a perspective that highlights Mary.” Darrell Bock

Consider the person of Joseph for a second. When you read Matthew 1:18-2:23, Joseph plays a very prominent role. He is visited by a divine revelation or command in the form of a dream four separate times. He makes some significant decisions and seems to lead very well. This is the last time Joseph is mentioned in the narrative of Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 13:55 being a likely reference to Jesus’ family). Jospeh is not mentioned at all in Mark. In Luke’s Gospel he is only mentioned in the birth account (1-4). John’s gospel, surprisingly, mentions Jesus as “the son of Joseph” twice, 1:45 and 6:42. He is never mentioned again in the rest of the New Testament. 

Most scholars believe that Joseph was older than Mary, perhaps even a widower who lost his wife in childbirth. What is agreed is that he seems to have had no children when he became betrothed to Mary. Most scholars also agreed that Joseph seems to have died sometime during Jesus’ earthly life, which may explain why he is absent from all of Jesus’ ministry when Mary, his mother, appears occasionally. All of this is conjecture in the end, because the biblical record does not give us much on the life of Joseph.

Consider how the Gospels record Jesus’ birth story, especially Matthew. While Luke seems to focus on Mary and her faith, Matthew clearly focuses on Joseph and his incredible obedience. What the first gospel presents is an unconventional, atypical, miraculous birth extraordinarily surrounded by prophecies. Matthew quotes the Old Testament seven times in 1:18-2:23. 

“While it is true that Jesus came with an array of divine sings to indicate who he was, sings that included his unique birth, the focus of these accounts is never simply upon who Jesus is or how he was born. In the infancy material, who Jesus is and how he was born are never separated from declaring what he will do on behalf of humanity. It is his anticipated actin on behalf of those in need that is celebrated in the two infancy accounts. This is why a mood of awe and worship accompanies the description of these unique events.” Bock 

Yet all of this has a point, a relevant reference to our life. Jesus’ incarnation perfectly matches our confrontation with life here. It is the Gospel writers way of making clear that Jesus is relevant to the common man even in His uncommon birth. How does God write an uncommon birth story that perfectly relates to the common man? He wraps it in Scripture, places it in the hands of two very different and very feeble people, Mary and Joseph, and then drops it directly into a survival saga. 

The Christmas story - the birth of Jesus, the eternal Son of God - seems to happen at a whisper. In a backwoods town. A teenage girl and a rough older man. But you can hear a shout behind the whisper. The shout of God revealing the advent of His redemption plan, hatched in his infinite mind before the foundation of the world. The story looks back to prophecies and covenants fulfilled and forward to the fullest expression of salvation and fulfillment.

Family Discussion Questions: 
  1. Where does Christmas rank in your favorite holidays of the year? Why? 
  2. What do you like most about celebrating Jesus’ birth? 
  3. When you think of the story of Jesus’ birth, what do you think about Joseph’s role? What do you think is most special about him? 
  4. When and how was Joseph very faithful, trusting in God when it was really hard to do so? 
  5. What can you learn from Joseph’s example? 

Small Group Discussion Questions: 
  1. In this sermon and text, we remember the Christmas story. What’s your favorite part about Christmas? Do you have any family traditions? Share with your group. 
  2. From your memory of the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth, what details stick out to you? Why? Share with your group. 
  3. Matthew 1:1-17, the genealogy, seems to set up the history of scandal and intrigue by including four women before mentioning Mary. How does that introduction help us understand Matthew 1:18-25, the story of Jesus’ birth? 
  4. How often have you thought of Joseph’s role? If you have often overlooked him, why do you think you have?
  5. Identify in the text of Matthew four times God directly revealed something to Joseph. Discuss with your group how difficult it would have been to act on these revelations. 
  6. Scot said in the sermon “Jesus’ incarnation perfectly matches our confrontation with life here.” What does that mean? 
  7. When have you had to wait on God? Why is waiting so hard? 
  8. When have you been asked to act on something God has called you to? How was this response of faith difficult for you? Share with your group. 
  9. We often simply “remember” the story of Jesus’ birth. Take it a step further and identify with your group five points of personal application from this story. 

Weekly Reading Plan: 
Sunday Matthew 1:18-2:23
Monday Isaiah 7:10-16; Isaiah 8:5-10
Tuesday Isaiah 9:1-7; Psalm 2
Wednesday Hosea 11:1-11
Thursday Luke 1:5-56
FridayLuke 1:57-2:40
Saturday Isaiah 59
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