By Prem Lee
Matthew 1 and 2
In life, properly introducing people is considered very important. I once asked why they had to make such elaborate introductions, and I was told it was to make people interested in the person! In sharp contrast the President of the United States is never introduced as everyone is expected to know him!! One would think that God who is greater than the President of any country would need no introduction, but sadly it is not so. The world has drifted so far from God that they are unable to recognize Him any longer. So when Jesus began His ministry He had John the Baptist herald His ministry. Angels also herald His birth to a mankind who should have known better.
In the first two chapters of Matthew three perspectives can be picked out for the season.
1) Jesus as the Saviour of the world
2) Jesus as the Messianic king
3) Jesus as the persecuted Messiah
Joseph found that the girl he loved and was engaged to was pregnant. It would have been a shock for him. Because of his love for Mary, he did not want any punishment on her and intended to separate from her quietly. But an angel appears to him in a dream and tells him to marry Mary as the Messiah was to be born of her.
This was not an easy matter, as people would ridicule him and his reputation as a man would be in tatters. But Joseph as an individual who believes in Yahweh, believes what He is told and acts on his faith by marrying Mary. By this he boldly proclaims that Mary would be the mother of the Messiah.
Such an act of faith is never easy. A lady I knew, ran a school and used the school to help the HIV infected children we were giving tuition to by giving them admission and a good education. Though she had her own children, she adopted some orphans to give them a new life. One of these orphan girls, after her marriage killed her for the property she had. We act in faith, but we trust God for the consequences, whether they are good or bad. Joseph ventured into the unknown by marrying Mary because of His faith in Yahweh.
This faith is seen in the naming of Jesus by Joseph, in obedience to the words of the angel. Jesus is an anglicised version of Joshua and means Yahweh saves. By naming Jesus he heralds that the Saviour of the world has come. Matthew reinforces this by quoting Isaiah 7:14 that God is with us.
Have you accepted this Saviour into your life? A pastor once preached that the only one who knows whether you have crossed the line into the kingdom of God is the you yourself and no one else. You know if you have accepted Jesus or not. Let us not enter into 2022 without this Saviour in our life.
Some wisemen from the east saw a sign of a star in their hometown. The sign told them that a king had been born somewhere to the west. They began a journey of faith to find this king. It was a dangerous journey and they were carrying gifts which were expensive to acknowledge the king. Ezra presents the dangers of such a journey in Ezra 8:21-23. But they went trusting God. God led them to Palestine, and in their simplicity they went to the palace thinking that the king would be born there.
There the scribes send them to Bethlehem and they find Jesus born there. They declare Jesus to be the Messianic king by offering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. By offering worship to Jesus they expressed their faith in the child as the future Messianic king.
Have you accepted Jesus as your king? You may have accepted Him as your Saviour, but have you surrendered your life to Him as king? If you have not surrendered your life to Him, may I encourage you to do so before entering 2022?
Micah 5:2 predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. It was a great privilege and Micah presented it as a privilege. But because of the prophecy, when Herod wants to kill Jesus he orders all the children below the age of 2 to be killed, and a slaughter ensues. The privilege of having the Messiah born in Bethlehem was expensive.
Because of this persecution by Herod, Jesus becomes the first Christian refugee and Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt under the guidance of God. They were not well to do, as is seen by the sacrifice they offer at the Temple for the birth of Jesus. The travel and stay in Egypt would have been beyond their means. But God provided through the gifts of the wisemen.
By this example Jesus left a pattern for us, of what out life would be as followers of Jesus. Are you willing to give up your dreams and suffer with Bethlehem by surrendering your life to Jesus? I have usually found that Jesus has much greater plans for us than we can dream of, though some may be called to suffer. Are you willing to enter 2022 with Jesus’ plan for you, by laying your life at His feet?
Jesus is proclaimed and Saviour, King and the Persecuted one. Do you give your life to this Jesus?