DAY TEN (10 DEC 2020) - COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS
“So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew 2: 23
Extra readings: Hosea 11: 1; Genesis 39; Isaiah 9: 2; Matthew 2
If you’ve watched the marvellous series called The Chosen, you’ll remember the scene in which Jesus speaks to an Egyptian woman in her language (possibly Coptic) and says that he used to live in Egypt. He did indeed live there, probably until the age of 5. He may have picked up a word or two of the local language but the fact is, there was a big community of Jews living in Egypt so he probably mostly spoke Aramaic, same as they did.
The Holy Family could very well have lived on happily in Egypt, amongst their own people. You’ll remember that there was another dreaming Joseph who also went down to Egypt and ended up prospering there (Genesis 39: 1). But Joseph hears from God again in a dream - and Hosea 11: 1 is fulfilled. Joseph is told that the person who wanted the child dead (Herod the Great) is himself dead. Joseph is told that it is safe to return to Israel and that he should take his family back there. Upon returning to the land, they find out that Herod’s son, who is as nasty a piece of work as his father was, is now ruling in the province of Judea. They decide to go and live in Nazareth, in the north, in the province of Galilee, instead.
This is where Jesus grew up, learned the trade of master builder and carpenter, and eventually, from where he started his ministry. This is the village from which he sought John the Baptist (Mark 1: 9). This is the place from where the people ‘who sat in darkness’ would see a great light (Isaiah 9: 2). And this is why Jesus would be called a Nazarene.
This has been our last day in the Christmas story according to Matthew. What has he been at pains to show us? The identity of Jesus (Son of Abraham, Son of David, Son of God); the desire of evil to destroy the Messiah (that foreshadows the cross) and how his mission from God was guided and protected by God, despite this evil opposition, so that he eventually got to Nazareth, from where his ministry began.
Your own destiny in God will often feel as if it is about to be vanquished by evil; but be assured, God will always have the last Word.
Lord, the Christmas story review so far has been very sobering. I am once again made aware of the true intensity of the spiritual battle that I, and my fellow believers, are engaged in.
Here’s how to do this devotional as a family
1.Watch this video about Joseph’s role in the Christmas story