Matthew 2:13-18 — Matthew Is Saying C’mon Dudes, You Gotta See It — Jesus is The Real Deal, The Messiah

Posted: August 29, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew
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Matthew 2:13-18 — Matthew quotes two Old Testament verses here in this single passage as hammers home the point to his original Jewish audience that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. He quotes Hosea 11:1 where it says, “I called my Son out of Egypt”. He quotes Jeremiah 31:15 when speaking in reference to the killings of the baby boys in Bethlehem. That verse says, “A cry was heard in Ramah — weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are no more.” Matthew is making the point that Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel’s destiny. Jesus is the true Israel. Everything Israel was supposed to be, Jesus would be. And the things that God did for and through Israel find fulfillment in the person and works of Jesus.
But Matthew sees the parallels between Jesus’ sojourn in Egypt, preservation from the killing of the children, and the return to Palestine, the Promised Land, having symbolic parallel to the history of Israel. israel was called to Egypt to escape certain death as result of the famine. Israel’s sons (and daughters) were saved by the blood of the Passover Lamb while the evil of the hard-hearted Pharaoh caused the deaths of Egypt’s sons. Israel was called out of Egypt to become God’s chosen people, to be God’s agent among the nations. Jesus went down into Egypt to be saved from the death sentence of Herod. Jesus was called out of Egypt to be the Passover Lamb for anyone who would believe in Him. He sees the old event as a preview of the new event. Jesus would walk through, in His life, the experiences of the nation, in order to fulfill all the needs of the nation and for the whole human race.
So Matthew sees that Hosea’s words that were written for the nation of Israel using the figure of a son find their fullest meaning in the experience of Jesus the Son as He is “called” out of Egypt to go to the land of Israel. Matthew is not simply connecting Jesus’ return from Egypt with the exodus of Israel from Egypt; he is connecting all that was involved with that exodus with Jesus. All of it was part of the plan so that God’s chosen people would see the connection between their history and Jesus. Matthew was pointing out that everything God did in their history was symbolic preparation for Jesus. Even the sacrificial system established by God for His people was a preview, a symbol, a preparation for Jesus being the fulfillment of the sacrificial system on the cross. He completed the symbolic sacrificial system in a literal act on the cross. Matthew is saying to his audience, Jesus is the real deal guys—don’t you see how it all fits together. Jesus is what all this Old Testament stuff was pointing to!
The second Old Testament reference is used in a similar way. It is a lament that comes from the Book of Jeremiah, 31:15. Jeremiah records his vision with tears of lamentation as he watches not only the city of Jerusalem being destroyed, but innocent children being slaughtered in the Babylonian invasion. He imagines, with his poetic vision, that Rachel, the wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin, is weeping for her descendants, her children. Rachel becomes the ancestral representative of all those mothers in the land who wept for their little children.
But his lamentation is in the middle of four chapters, Jeremiah 30-33, that are filled with comfort and consolation and joy. These chapters look beyond the grief of death to the dawn of a new age that will come with the Messiah’s coming, One whom Jeremiah calls the Branch. And with that new age there will be a New Covenant that will pave the way for everlasting peace and righteousness. Out of the chaos of violence and death at the hands of wicked rulers there would come a New Covenant, bringing forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life.
Matthew knew that Jesus is the Messiah, the Branch, and that in the upper room at the Last Supper He inaugurated the New Covenant (“This cup is the new covenant in my blood” [1 Cor. 11:25]). So when he reported the killing of innocent children in Bethlehem, he immediately saw the parallel with Jeremiah’s day. Once again God would bring life out of death, the life of Jesus out of the deaths of the innocent children, and with His life He would bring eternal life for those who died for Him in that little village of Bethlehem. Jesus would also bring eternal life to you and me through his violent death on the cross.
So, what does all this mean for you and me? First, I think that there is the idea no matter how chaotic that this world seems, God is working His plan toward its ultimate conclusion when Christ returns to establish his eternal kingdom, to judge, to set things right. God works things for good for those who trust and love Him even when it seems that evil has won the day. We may not understand the purpose of difficult things to deal with but we can trust that the Almighty will redeem it, use it, and make use of it in His grand redemptive plan for mankind. When you consider the symmetry of these early parts of Jesus’ life to the history of Israel, you cannot help but be moved to understand that God is working, working, working His plan.
Second, Jesus is the point of it all. Everything points to Him. He is the point of the Bible. He is the point of God’s plan. All other religions feel compelled to respond to Jesus whereas Christianity has no position as to the nature of the founders of those man-made religions other than that they were the men that founded those religions. We do not have to respond to them because Jesus is the real deal. He is the Son of God. He is God in the flesh. Matthew saw it and pointed it out to the people of Israel, but they refused to see. Many of us today have it pointed out to us but we refuse to see. Paul said that in the absence of the Holy Spirit’s action in our souls, all this Jesus as God stuff seems like foolishness. Their eyes and their hearts are closed off and are hard-hearted as Pharaoh and Herod. It is our job to continue to point out that Jesus is the Messiah. It was Matthew’s job and it is our job. Jesus is the point of it all. Let us never tire. Let us not grow weary of pointing it out.

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