Let us pray: Dear Savior, what a comfort it is to know that You don’t just concern Yourself with the huge issues of life, but with all the little ones, too. For that means that You haven’t only saved us from big sins, but smallish ones, as well. You aren’t just concerned with births, deaths, and marriages, but with all the incidental incidents of our lives from the moment we awake and throughout all our sleeping hours. Truly You are a God for all times and seasons and that means You will never forsake us. Thank You Lord! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE BLESSED CHRIST CHILD!
TEXT: Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Today we confessed the words of the Nicean Creed in our service. That short, but detailed explanation of the Christian faith has been on my mind lately. You see, recently I had a discussion with a person who is a Christian, but who’s church doesn’t believe in confessing any formal creeds. Their basic point is that as long as we confess that “Jesus is Lord” that’s enough. Most other things in the Bible are basically a difference in personal interpretation and “Who are you to think you’re right and others are wrong” in their interpretation? Next time I see that person I’m going to ask them: “If you have an opportunity to invest your money in an FDIC insured bank vs. a non-insured bank, which one will you pick? Will you pick the one which adheres to a formal statement about the safety of your money and has a detailed legal summary as to its safety, or the one which simply says: ‘We’ll take good care of it for you because we’re nice people?’” Yes, few people actually read the fine print, but as the old saying goes: “The devil is in the details.”
Today, on this first Sunday after Christmas, God provides us with some details about the first few years of Jesus’ life on this earth. To many, it is a nice narrative that they quickly skim and then promptly forget because it seems rather simple. But, that is always a mistake when it comes to God’s Word! And so, as we study this little text from Matthew, I want to remind all of you that:
THE SAVIOR IS IN THE DETAILS!
After Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph remained in Bethlehem probably well over a year and a half. We can surmise this from the account of King Herod quizzing the wise men on the exact time the star appeared and his subsequent killing of all the baby boys there under the age of two. Herod wanted to be safe from some usurper to his throne. No doubt he added another 6 months unto the time frame to “get” this new King.
But, of course, “man plans and God laughs.” For as soon as the wise men left for home, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to leave immediately for Egypt, taking his family with him. All this to escape Herod’s murderous plans. And so Joseph got up that very night and took his family and left for that adjacent country “where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”
That small detail is rich in meaning. Matthew is quoting from Hosea 11: 1 where God spoke those words. And what does this all mean for us? It means that God always, always, always keeps His Word. He never goes back or forgets even one promise outlined in the Bible. It also means that Christ came to keep all the promises of God because He was truly God’s Son. If we overlook such details our overall image of Christ is therefore lessened, isn’t it? Yes, to forget such details dishonors God Almighty Who wrote “everything for our learning.”
God left nothing to chance when it came to His Son’s life. He concerned Himself with details. And so it is with our lives. We’re His adopted children through faith in Christ. And He loves us so much that He “even numbers all the hairs of our head.” To keep the Baby safe and to provide for the family in Egypt, God sent the wise men with their costly gifts. Those gifts were no doubt sold by Joseph and financed the next few years as they hid from murderous King Herod. But finally Herod dies (from a parasitic worm infestation and finally taking poison), and his kingdom is split up between three of his sons. Again the angel appears and says to Joseph: “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
Once more, Joseph shows his total trust in God and immediately obeys. This is an important detail for us today. For it reveals the fact that true faith is never merely passive, but active! Christians are to act on God’s truth and not make Him fit their timetable.
“But when he heard that Archelaus (one of the sons) was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’”
Now, I have already talked about the importance of OT prophecy and its fulfillment in Christ. For if Jesus didn’t keep and fulfill every single such prophecy about His Kingship, His Lordship over us would be in doubt. He’s not an 80% or 90% or even 99% God, He’s a 100% God! And that is the “truth that will set us free.” For it took a fully human and a fully God Savior, united in One Person to die on a cross and pay for our sins.
So, the final prophetic detail spoken here concerning Jesus being called a Nazarene is also vital. And where is this prophecy to be found? Well, some details are important to know. The name Nazareth actually comes from the Hebrew word “nezer” meaning: “shoot, or tender twig.” Armed with that knowledge, let’s look at a few OT passages: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; and from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” Is. 11:1. Likewise, Isaiah 53:2, one of the great passion texts: “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.” And let’s not forget Jeremiah 23: 5-6: “The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety (that’s us, the Holy Christian Church). This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.’” Well, there are more such passages, but you get the point. God detailed the coming of His Son, and in those details we find a full picture of our Savior.
So, next time we confess the words of one of the great Creeds of the Christian Church, don’t let your mind wander. Focus on the fact that THE SAVIOR IS IN THE DETAILS! AMEN