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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

First Sunday After Christmas

Option #1: "The Forgotten Part of Christmas"
Matthew 2:13-15; 19-23

Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

I. When God’s Son had to flee for His life

The coming of the magi no doubt was a time of great encouragement and assurance to Joseph and Mary, confirming the wondrous words of the angels to them (Matt 1:20-23; Luke 1:26-38), to Zacharias (Luke 1:11-20), and to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-14). It also confirmed the testimonies of Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45) and of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) about the Child to whom Mary gave birth. Even these wise men from the East had been told the news by God and came to worship Jesus and give Him gifts.

But the rejoicing was short-lived. No sooner had the magi departed than an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, giving him a warning from God. This news was not of joy and hope, but of danger and urgency. Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him. Just as the magi had been warned by God to disobey Herod (v12), Joseph was now warned by God to flee the evil, murderous king.

II. When God’s Son was in exile in Egypt

There were many Jews in Egypt because Alexander the Great had established a sanctuary for them in Alexandria. Through the Roman rule that followed, this Egyptian city was considered a special place of safety for Jews. It was there that later Jewish scholars translated the Bible into Greek, the famous Septuagint, from which the New Testament writers often quote.

Jesus’ family was to remain there until the death of Herod, probably only a few months. Thus, "Out of Egypt I have called my son" (Matt 2:15). Matthew shows that Jesus’ return from Egypt was pictured by Israel’s calling out of Egypt many years earlier. The Exodus was a type of Jesus’ return from Egypt with Joseph and Mary. As God had once brought the people out of Egypt to be His chosen nation, He now had brought His greater Son to be the Messiah.

III. Why He was called "a Nazarene"

The term "Nazarene" was an insult, used to describe any person who was rough and rude. That’s why Nathaniel, when told of Jesus coming from Nazareth asked: "Can anything good come from there?" (John 1:46) The early persecutors of the Church used this humble place of origin as evidence that Jesus was not the Messiah. But this title of Christ is most appropriate. It speaks of his humiliation. It reminds us that the Messiah was "despised and rejected of men" (Isa 53:3). See also Isa 49:7; Ps 22:6-8: 69:20-21. It was therefore at lowly and despised Nazareth that the royal Son of God made His home for 30 years. Much more humiliation was to come in His three years of ministry. Only after the cross and His resurrection would He be given the name that is "above every name" (Phil 2:9).

(All notes from John Mac Arthur’s Commentary)

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Children's Message

I want to tell you a story about a very poor boy in a very large city. He lived in Chicago where they have some terrific Christmas displays in the store windows. Some people take a bus trip to Chicago for shopping and to see these beautiful displays in the big store windows there. And that’s as close to Christmas as this boy ever came, because his family was very poor. He knew that he would never get even one of those wonderful gifts that he saw displayed in the store windows and in commercials on TV.

Then one day a little before the next Christmas, he became very sick. They had to take him to the hospital, and they found out that he had cancer. They asked him if he had to make a wish, what it would be. Sure enough, when the Christmas season came again right after Thanksgiving, they took him downtown and this time INSIDE of the store. They took him to the part of the store where he could see the toy he had wished for. When he saw it, he said: THERE’S NO GLASS IN BETWEEN!

Ah, yes, now isn’t that just what Christmas tells us? Christmas teaches us that God himself came from heaven to be right here with us, right here where we could walk and talk with Him. There was no glass between the boy and his toy and there’s no barrier between us and God now that Jesus has come.

His cross is like a bridge that we can walk across. He’s not far away from us and we’re not far away from Him. Just like the boy who was given his favorite toy by someone who cared about him, Jesus gives us eternal life. He paid the price so that it could be A GIFT for you and me.

This is even better than Christmas because you can celebrate God’s gifts every day of the year! And there never is any glass or anything else in between! Praise God for the great Gift of His Son, Jesus our Savior!

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Option #2: "King Me!" or "Crown Him!"
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: Jesus is the true King worth trusting, following and loving!
The Problem: trusting, following, and loving other "kings" and "kingdoms" and despising and rejecting King Jesus
The Promise:  "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews" (Matthew 27:37); thus God demonstrates His surprising and lowly ways of ruling and saving, then and now!
Based on a homiletical help by Reed Lessing
1. The text is a story of two kings--one named Herod, the other named Jesus. One was electified about going up; the other was just as passionate about going down. This is their story--and ours as well! (Lessing)
2. There is only one characteristic Herod and Jesus share in common--they both believe there is nothing that bloodshed can't cure. (Lessing)
3. Such is the story of two kings--with two opposing messages. Herod says, "Get! Go up!" Jesus says, "Give! Go down!" It is this life of giving and serving and going down that we celebrate and live out during this joyful Christmastide! (Lessing)
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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:34 PM