Matthew 2:12-23 (Week 4 – A Thrill of Hope Christmas Series)
Jason White







Jesus was born into a world of suffering and pain, and He Himself was despised, rejected, and suffered greatly. He knows your pain. He empathizes with you in your suffering. Because of the cross, He brings the hope of a day when there will be no more suffering and pain.

Matthew 2:23 – …and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.






Sermon Audio Transcript
Do you have your Bibles today or a device with a Bible app on it, I want to invite you to pull it out and be turning to Matthew chapter two. Matthew chapter two is where we're going to be we'll be starting in verse 13. In just a moment, this is our final message in this message series that is, you can see on the screen we've been calling a thrill of hope we've been going, verse by verse through Matthew's account of the Christmas story, what he has to say in the first couple of chapters there. And you may remember if you were here during Week One is we looked at all of the genealogy that is found in that first section that we saw that, that there is hope, through the fulfillment of promises, that through the Old Testament promises that God had made to his people, and the fulfillment of those promises. It brings hope into our lives to know that God has always been working behind the scenes to bring about this plan of salvation. You may remember during week two, as we continued, picking up around verse 18, or so, where we talked about how there was hope in God with us that he was to have the name Jesus, and that he would be a manual. And after rescuing us from our sins, He would be God with us and not just God with us during the time that he was here, but God with us forever, as Paul writes, and Colossians sees Christ in you the hope of glory. And then finally, last week, we saw the response that the Magi had to coming into Jesus's presence when he was just a toddler to fall down on their face before Him and worship Him, then we see that that's what hope leads us to do as well that that's the proper response to being filled with a thrill of hope that we see in Jesus, we fall on our face before him, we worship Him, we glorify Him, we honor him, we thank him for bringing that hope into our lives. And so this is what we've seen over the last several weeks. And we're going to finish up this message series again by looking at Matthew chapter two, verses 13 through 23. And we'll be there in just a moment. I've got to admit, though, that before we dive into this passage today that this has been a really, really difficult Christmas season for my family and I this has not been a normal Christmas season. My wife got a phone call a week and a half ago or so from her mom. It was one of those phone calls that you don't ever really want to receive. It was her mom letting her know that her brother has stage four cancer. Cancer is never good. But stage four cancer is really not good. And so that was devastating. news for us to hear her brother's name is Bradley. This is a picture of Bradley. This is wife Julie. Bradley's in his late 40s. He's a fun guy to be around. He's a loving, gentle, humble guy to be around. And the news that he has stage four cancer is just rocking our world. He had had melanoma a few years ago, we had found out it was on a scalp and they procedurally or surgically cut it out. They removed it, they thought they had gotten it all. Apparently they didn't. Over the last several years. It's just been spreading and now it's spread to his liver and it's spread to his lungs and his spleen and his pancreas and abdominal cavity. I mean, it's just all over. You just kept getting more bad news after bad news after bad news. He's in pain. He's tired, quite honestly scared, as most of us would be if we were on the other end of receiving that news as well. It's been hard to process that he's even in this situation. I've cried many tears over the last week and a half and I've watched my wife cry even more. She loves her brother. We all love her brother and we don't want to see him go through this. And we certainly don't want to lose him but we know that's a very real possibility when you are diagnosed with stage four, cancer and so it wasn't supposed to be Either way, it's Christmas. It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of year. It's supposed to be a time of happiness and joy and reflection of all the good things that we have in our lives. But I'm just being deeply honest with you here. It's been really hard to get to that place this year.It's not what I'm feeling. It's not what my family's feeling, it's certainly not what he's feeling. Of course, the reality is, is that the suffering, the pain, the hurts the difficult things that we go through in life, don't stop just because it's Christmas. Satan never takes a day off. Cancer still comes even during Christmas time families argue and fight. People die divorces occur, people get fired from their jobs, anxiety hits, stress is their depression still looms, suffering is still very much a part of our lives during the holidays. And a lot of times, we feel that pain, and that hurt even more. And I know that we're not the only ones. Many of you can resonate with what it is that I'm talking about right now, because you are in the same boat. Maybe some of you are here today. And you even are the same in the same position as her brother is you have the cancer, you have the illness, you're dealing with the chronic pain and the things that we just have to go through some times that hit us out of nowhere in this world, some of you have lost loved ones. And I know how incredibly difficult that can be when you're walking through the holiday season and you miss them even more. I used to have a youth pastor on staff who had lost his mother when he was just a teenager. And he would always remind us as we were thinking about the holiday season and planning the things that go around it, of how difficult it really is for him to go through the Christmas season, just remembering even more that his mom is not around. And again, I know that many of you feel that as well that you're not immune to those things. After the first service. I had people coming up to me saying, you know, I have a family member who's an alcoholic, and they're struggling during this time. And it's just hard to enjoy this season, when I know that my family is hurting and struggling in those ways. And so I know that we're not the only ones that many of you are walking through the same kinds of things. But what I want us to see this morning is that even though things like this can hurt even more during this season, Christmas also reminds us that the God of the universe entered into this sin infested world and actually experienced many of the same sufferings and much of the same pain and struggles and hurts that you and I go through on a daily basis. And that hurt even more this time of year. Today, as we finish up this Christmas message series, we are going to see that the Christmas story does actually bring us hope even in the midst of suffering. I was so thankful in preparing this message this week that the Lord knew ahead of time in my sermon prep and where we were going to be today knowing that this would be news that we would have to deal with, to be able to remind me that even in the middle of these hard things, even in the middle of the grief and the loss and the struggle and the difficulties of life, that there is hope in the midst of our suffering, that we have a Savior who has gone through that same suffering in his life. As we'll see, we left off last week where I mentioned earlier how the Magi had come into the presence of this toddler of Jesus who was God in the flesh, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the one who holds all things together and who goes before all things and they fell on their knees before Him and they worshipped Him in that moment. And you think about if there was ever a scene that would describe what it should be like for the God of the universe, to leave the glory and riches of heaven and to come here and for us to walk into the presence of that's it. I mean, that's the way it should have been the entire time that he was walking around our planet being who he was that we were falling on our face before him that he is experiencing all this incredible treatment and love in in worship and glorifying and honoring Him for who He is. But it doesn't take long after we see what Matthew wrote about the Magi in their response to see that that just wasn't going to be the case. As a matter of fact As Matthew picks up in the very next verse after telling us the response of the Magi, and how they worshipped him said, When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, get up, he said, take the child and his mother and escaped to Egypt, stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. So again, it just doesn't take very long for us to see that the worship didn't last, that the very next verse tells us that the God of the universe who created all people who loves all people who was coming to rescue, all people was going to be hunted. Now he was going to have to be on the run and have to escape from those who were going to try to kill him. This was what, who came here, it was just what it is that he did. We talked a little bit about that last week, he was a ruthless king, he was completely paranoid about anyone trying to take over his throne and compete with him for that. And he had heard from these Magi that there was another king, they were going to worship and that enraged him. And he didn't like that he told them to go and when they found him to come back and let him know, so that he could go worship them too. Although we know we had no intentions of worshipping them, he just wanted to know where he was. So he could take care of him and not have to worry about anyone competing for his throne one day, of course, they didn't come back and tell him they were warned in a dream not to do that. And now we see that God is warning Joseph to have the same kind of threat and to make sure that they did what was necessary to keep him safe. But again, right off the bat in today's text, I mean, one or two verses after we see the way that the Magi were responding to him, we see that Jesus was not going to just be able to live a life of comfort and ease that he himself was going to suffer. And it continued to be that way. Whenever we get to the next couple of verses, Matthew says So he got up, took the child in his mother during the night they had to flee in the darkness of the night, and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod, and so was fulfilled. This has been a key theme that Matthew has talked about so far throughout his gospel. And so these events fulfilled what the Lord had said, through the prophet out of Egypt, I called my son. Now, the prophet that Matthew is referring to here is Hosea. And this is a quote that's found in Hosea chapter 11, verse one, and it is referring to the time when God had faithfully brought Israel out of Egypt during the Exodus. See, a lot of times when we talk about the fulfillment of prophecy, we're talking about predictive prophecy. We're talking about predictions that were made about the Messiah, and that these things are coming true. This is not a predictive prophecy. Hosea is not talking about Jesus, when he's talking about a sun here, Sun is a reference to Israel, he's referring back to the time when God had rescued his people, Israel, who he's calling his son here, from Egypt, out of slavery here. And so Matthew here is referring to this what's called as type illogical prophecy or analogical prophecy. He's comparing something that had happened too before to what was happening to Jesus in this moment in saying that Jesus is a greater fulfillment of what it was that happened here. And so he's saying that in the same way that God had called his people out of Egypt and rescued them from slavery, God was now I'm going to call Jesus out of Egypt, because this is where he was sending him to. And he was going to be calling him out of Egypt, to rescue his people, to rescue them and bring freedom from sin and death forever, not the literal slavery that the Israelites were in, but the freedom from sin, and death. And so once again, we see a lot just from this word fulfilled, that Matthew has used a number of times already, and that we see here because he's saying that even though there's suffering that's taken place, even though that the child is having to escape and live his life on the run, when he should have been bowed down to and being worshipped by others, that God was up to something that this was the fulfillment of something that God was doing, he was going to protect them so that he could call him out to do something in the same way that he did with his people when he called them out of Egypt, as well. And so this is the thing that you and I have to keep in mind as we walk through suffering and pain and difficulties of life. We Have a God who sits above all things who is somehow able to take all of the bad and work it for good in some way, we've got to remember that there is purpose in suffering.I don't like what is happening to my brother in law, I grieve, I don't want him to walk through pain in this way. But it brings me some comfort in some way, at least to know that we have a God who sits above all things, who is able to take even the negative, hard, difficult things of life and somehow work them for good in people's lives and for his ultimate glory. And I hope that it brings you some comfort today to know that he's working that he's in the pain with you to bring about something good in your life and in the life of others. Matthew goes on in verse 16. And we continue to see what happens next. He says, When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem, in its vicinity, who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time that he had learned from the Magi. I mean, if that's not if that's not evidence that Jesus, the God of the universe verse was born into a sin infested world that has gotten out of control ever since the fall. And I don't know what it is, I mean, I can't think of a more heinous thing to do, than to slaughter innocent children who were two years old and younger, just because you were worried about one of them coming up, come competing with you, on your throne, I'm not sure that there's anything that is more difficult than a parent actually losing a child. I can't imagine what these parents were feeling and what it was that they were going through when they're watching the murder of their innocent children, and that there was nothing that they could do about it in that moment. I can't imagine what it's like to go through that. Unfortunately, I know that there are some of you who may can imagine what it's like to go through that. Matter of fact, you don't have to imagine it, you know, what it's like to walk through that because you've lost a child, I can't imagine a greater pain than losing a child and having to suffer in that particular way. But again, I hope and my prayer is that you would find some comfort in knowing that you have a God who knows what it is like to suffer himself. I mean, when we think about the Christmas story, we were reminded that Jesus, he didn't have to come. This wasn't something he had to do, he chose to do it. And he certainly didn't have to expose himself to suffering. But yet he did. And we know that he suffered in many ways while he was here on Earth, especially when he went to the cross. I mean, there wasn't a more painful, humiliating way to die than through crucifixion. And so he can empathize with you in your suffering. You are not alone in your suffering, he was with you in the hurt, he is with you in the pain and He grieves with you and he mourns with you. And my prayer is that you would experience his comfort today. Matthew goes on and tells us after this terrible event, and verse 16, to show us that God again was up to something even in the suffering, as we've said, all ready because he points to another Old Testament prophecy. He says, Then what was said, after this event had happened when Herod began the murder of all of these innocent children, he says, Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah. So again, this is a direct reference to something that was said in Jeremiah was fulfilled. Here's our word yet again. We've seen it already today. We've seen it in Matthew several times. And what we see next is a quote out of Jeremiah 3115, where Isaiah says, a voice is heard in Ramallah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. Now again, this is not predictive prophecy, like we just talked about earlier. This wasn't as they are predicting that this was going to happen in this moment. He was actually referring back to in the original context, the lament of all of the mothers who were be wailing their son lines being led off into the Babylonian exile. And so again, Matthew is trying to bring this up to talk about in some way this is related to what was going on there and Jesus being a greater fulfillment of those things. And we have to kind of dive into it a little bit deeper to understand what was even going on here, because all that we see is what is written here in it. Matthew reminds us of in verse 15. But if you were to go flip over to Jeremiah, and look at chapter 431, and read verse 15, you would notice that, of course, verse 16, comes next. And here's what Isaiah says, immediately after pointing to this weeping of the mothers in Israel. He says, This is what the scuze me. He says, This is what the Lord says, restrain your voice from the weeping from weeping and your eyes from tears for your work will be rewarded declares the Lord, they were returned from the land of the enemy. So there is hope. For your descendants, declares the Lord, your children will return to the land, they were carried off into exile, there's great mourning, there's great weeping there's, there's lament, right, God knows what it's like to suffer and that they were suffering in that moment. But the moment that he talks about this one verse earlier, he began to immediately try to offer them some comfort. Now, again, based on the fact that God was going to do something in the pain in in the struggle, he was allowing them to be captured and to be taken into exile. But God was not absent from that suffering that they were going to experience, that there was something that was going to cause hope, eventually, through all of these things, and that he was up to something good if you continue to read Jeremiah 31, I won't go there. But this is where he even begins to get into messianic prophecy about the New Covenant about the new covenant and how the Messiah was going to come and enter into this new covenant. And there would be all this messianic joy in in hope during that time. And so again, Jeremiah is showing them that even though something bad is going to happen, are happening in the moment of this exile, that God is up to something in the suffering gonna bring about something good in it in Matthew is pointing to this. Now, he doesn't say it in these verses. But again, this is familiar language when pointing to verse 15, here and saying the lamenting and mourning and all of those things, and saying that this was something that was fulfilled. It's this type of logical prophecy saying this greater fulfillment of what was happening there in Jesus is happening as well. So again, what was happening? Well, the slaughter of innocent children, which would cause great mourning and great suffering, it was terrible. But what I think that Matthew was trying to say, is that God was up to something in it by protecting Jesus, who would eventually bring comfort in that he would bring that comfort by defeating the power of sin of death, and bringing in into all suffering one day. And so we see that God was involved in it in order in the same way that that Jeremiah pointed to the suffering and then comfort, then we're seeing that Jesus, even though we see they're suffering, because he was protected, he would be the one that could do something about the suffering that not just that they were experiencing, but that everyone was experiencing, and would one day create a place where we would experience no more suffering through his finished work on the cross. And so we've seen this many times throughout Scripture, we've highlighted it today. But even though Satan is out to steal, and kill and destroy, or evil and suffering, God is at work, to use it in some way to bring about good to fulfill his great plans for us and for the world that we live in.He goes on and finishes up this chapter here, by saying that After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 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 or dead. So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that article, as was raining in Judea, in place of his father haired, 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, in so was third time today already fulfilled, what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. Now, this is the third time that Matthew is referring to a specific prophecy here. But the thing about this one is just like the other ones, I was able to point you to Hosea chapter 11, verse one Jeremiah 3115 and say this is where you can find what it is that they were referring to. I can't do that here. I can't do that here. Because there is no specific prophecy written in the old testament to what Matthew is referring to here. He's talking about the fulfillment of prophecy. And we don't see this prophecy written anywhere in the entire Old Testament scripture. And so what in the world? Is Matthew referring to here? What is it that he is doing? Well, there's a lot of theories around this. A lot of commentators, a lot of scholars will write a lot of scholarly material around kind of a wordplay between Nazareth and, and the Hebrew word Nightstar, which is a branch and the fulfillment of branch and connecting some other things in there. But one of the other things, which I think makes a lot of sense is through what he says here and what Jesus will be called, which is a Nazarene. See, there were a lot of prophecies in the Old Testament about how Jesus how the Messiah would be despised and rejected. Right, and what we see is that Nazareth is this remote place. Nazareth is a remote place and to be labeled a mass Nazarene was slang, like this term right here was actually slang to be called a Nazarene. It wasn't a compliment, to be called a Nazarene. It meant you were someone from a remote or obscure place, it'd be kind of like us referring to someone as a hick, probably Today writer, you're from the backwoods kind of thing, if you were from this remote area, and you don't have much to offer is what it is that they were saying. And again, there were all these prophecies that that would be true about Jesus. I mean, we see it in several places. Let me just highlight a few of them. This one is found in Matthew 22, verses six and seven, where it's a prophecy about Jesus saying, but I am a worm, not a man scorned by everyone, despised by the people, All who see me mock me hurl insults, shaking their heads. So this is one thing that we see here. Look at Psalm 69. You know, how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed all my enemies are before me, scorn, again, has broken my heart and has left me helpless. I looked for sympathy, but I was, but there was none for comforters, but I found none. And then one more. This is in Isaiah 53 says he grew up before him like a tender shoot and like a root out of dry ground, he had to be had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him. Nothing in his appearance, that we should desire him. Verse three, He was despised and rejected by mankind. Listen to this phrase, a man of suffering. Familiar. Look at this one. One who is familiar with pain? What a phrase, one who is familiar with pain, not one who knows about pain. But one who is familiar with pain. In Matthew chapter one, he was referenced as a manual God with us, right? This is the God who is familiar with pain, and he is with you. In your moments of pain. There's a difference when someone is with you, who knows about pain, and someone who is familiar with pain, when they're familiar with pain, and they sit with you and they're with you in that moment. You feel that even more It feels different. When someone who's familiar with pain, the same kind of pain that you've walked through in this is what the prophets were saying would happen and who he would be because of what would happen to him. He said like one from whom people hide their faces. He was despised and held in low esteem. These are just a few of the prophecies about the Messiah who was going to be despised and rejected. And so when we go back to Matthew, and we see that he's saying the fulfillment of prophecy, here this fulfilled what the prophets write again, he's not pointing to one particular prophet who said it. He's saying this as a general theme that the prophets have said is that he would be called a Nazarene. He would be someone who is despised and rejected in that prophecy was fulfilled here. It's So I think that's what Matthew is referring to, since we can't find any specific quote that's there. And of course, we know that this is what ended up being true about Jesus and his experience. He was rejected by the leaders of his day, he was rejected by his own people. He was rejected by the people in his own hometown, he was rejected even by his family. And we know that he suffered greatly on the cross, he was tortured and spat on and mocked and ridiculed and, and ultimately died. Jesus was not immune to suffering, the God of the universe, when he showed up, did not walk around in a bubble being protected and living a life of comfort. He allowed himself to experience the same suffering, the same pains that we go through, He was despised, rejected, and he suffered greatly. And so I don't know what pain and hurt and rejection you are carrying with you this Christmas season. I don't know the depths of your pain this morning. But the God who is familiar with pain is with you. And because of what he accomplished, you won't have to experience that pain forever. Because of his finished work on the cross and his resurrection. He has put the works in motion, that there will be a time when we don't have to experience any more pain, or suffering, and it's going to be great. But even until that times comes, the God who is with us is the God who is familiar with pain, and he's in it with you, and he's empathizing with you. He's comforting with you. He's experiencing the loss with you, while at the same time he's up to something above it, to even use it for our good and his glory this morning. And the truth is, is that if you've never said yes to Jesus, that he experienced this suffering, he exposed himself to this suffering, also that he could be with you and that he could also comfort you and walk through your sufferings with you in this life and give you the hope of not having to suffer any longer at the end of time. And so my hope and my prayer is that if you're really walking through a difficult season this during this Christmas or time during this Christmas season is that you would experience the God who is familiar with pain and that you would be comforted by him and that you would begin to find purpose, even in the pain was pray