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Matthew 2

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, MARCH 27

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 2

Yesterday, when we left off at the end of Matthew 1, the birth of Jesus had been reported.  As chapter 2 opens, we are introduced to Herod the king (not a nice guy at all) and some wise men from the east (nice guys who were really curious).  These wise men were looking for the One born the King of the Jews.

Typically, our manger scenes have the wise men at the manger.  And there is nothing actually wrong with that but Jesus was probably closer to two years old than he was a new born when the wise men came on the scene.  That probably means they didn’t find Him at the manger.  That doesn’t mean you should dismantle your manger scene.  It just means that our traditions are not necessarily Biblically accurate.

King Herod was all shook up over the birth of this King and set plans in motion to kill all the baby boys two years old and younger.  As a result of that Joseph took his little family and fled to Egypt to escape the persecution.  

I don’t know if you have ever thought about it or not but there is a lot of connections to some very current issues wrapped up in this part of the story.  To begin with, Jesus’ home was heaven.  In a very real way, He immigrated to earth when He was born in Bethlehem.  And then because of Herod’s persecution, Jesus literally became a refugee when his family fled to Egypt.

I don’t mean to stir up anything with this.  But I do think that in the midst of all of the current controversies over immigrants and refugees in our country, we would do well to take a look at what the Bible says about these folks.  We really do need a theology of immigrants and refugees to inform the modern American church of our role in this crisis.  

As Matthew 2 closes, Herod the king dies.  Joseph and his family come back and settle in the city of Nazareth in Galilee.  At the time of Jesus, Nazareth was one of the most despised cities in all of Israel.  In fact, later in Jesus’ life we read, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

There are many things to be learned from this chapter.  But one of the things that struck me is that when things seem so out of control, God is still in control.  Our plans may not be working out (Joseph probably hadn’t planned on moving to Egypt) but God’s plan will always work out just like He has always planned it.  I know it is hard to trust God when things are swirling around us and seem on the verge of falling apart.  In fact, when things seem to be falling apart, God’s plan is often coming together.  That very well the very best time to trust God and His good plan for your life.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 1

DAILY DEVOTION

 

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 1

Thank you for being brave enough to at least sample this new effort at providing additional discipleship.  Our plan is for you to receive one of these five days each week: Monday through Friday.  Our hope is that as a significant number of our folks read and think about the same Bible chapter on any given day, we not only will grow together but we will also experience a unity that will strengthen our church and move us forward into the glorious future God has for us.  Today we will be reading and thinking about Matthew 1.

 

Matthew is obviously the first Gospel in the New Testament.  It is often called the Gospel of the King that was in many ways written to a primarily Jewish audience who were looking for their promised King, the Messiah.

 

Interestingly, Matthew is the only Gospel that specifically uses the word church (Matthew 16:18; 18:17).  The word church literally means “the called out ones”.  In the Old Testament, the Jewish people were God’s called out people.  In the New Testament, it is the saved people (Jew and Gentile alike) that are God’s called out people.  

 

Before meeting Jesus, Matthew was named Levi.  He was a tax collector for the Roman government which made him among the most hated of people by the Jews.  When Matthew met Jesus, he became a new man.  His name changed from Levi to Matthew which means “gift of God”.  He walked away from a very lucrative job to follow Jesus.  And he walked away from a lot of his old friends who would not understand his new life in Jesus.

 

Chapter one begins with a genealogy.  Most of us are prone to skip right over these lists of names of people that we don’t know.  But this particular genealogy gives us an interesting look into the grace of God.  There are four different women listed here.  Most Jewish genealogies only listed the men folk.  And three of the four women had some very interesting pasts.  God truly loves us all and can use any of us regardless of our backgrounds.

 

From there Matthew begins the birth narrative of Jesus.  He would be born of the virgin Mary.  Mary wasn’t perfect and she certainly wasn’t sinless.  But she was a person of faith which is a requirement for pleasing God.  Verse 16 tells us that Joseph was Mary’s husband but not Jesus’ dad.  God the Father was the Father of Jesus.  

 

But Joseph would be given the incredible responsibility of being Jesus’ “step dad”.  Joseph was a righteous man who wanted to do things right including not embarrassing his soon to be wife who from all practical perspectives appeared to have committed a grave sin.  Joseph, however, was more than willing to hear from God.  And he was more than willing to obey what God said even when it didn’t make practical sense. 

 

As Matthew 1 comes to a close, we are given the remarkable news that Jesus, God with Us, had been born.  This birth in a most obscure place would be the birth that would change the direction of the entire world.  God with us!

 

As you go through the remainder of your day today, I hope you will think about how God used two very regular people to do some most remarkable things.  I wonder what remarkable thing God wants to do with you?

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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