Matthew 2:13–23: Out of Egypt and into Nazareth
In the first half of Matthew 2, we saw the right response to Jesus’ rightful kingship through the worship of the wise men from the east. In the second half of Matthew 2, we will see the wrong response to Jesus’ rightful kingship through the rage of Herod. Together, we are seeing that no one can remain neutral to the kingdom of Jesus. Either we will worship him, or we will seek to destroy him. Jesus Christ is born the king, and as the king, his reign makes a definite claim over our lives. More than that, this passage also puts a very clear expectation of suffering on those who would follow Jesus. If those who were associated with Jesus merely by the incidental details of the time and place of their births suffered because of Jesus, how much more should we who associate with Jesus by faith expect to suffer? While this is a challenging truth for us to ponder, it comes with a corresponding promise, that Jesus claims his kingdom through suffering.
1. What Old Testament echoes appear in the first section of this passage (vv. 13–15)? How do we see Jesus as a new Moses? How do we see Jesus as recapitulating the exodus of the entire nation of Israel? What is Matthew getting at when he quotes Hosea 11:1, which describes Jesus as God’s “son”? What does this opening section tell us about the suffering that Christians must expect to fact in this life?
2. How does the story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 27 form the Old Testament background to Herod’s murderous rage at being tricked (v. 16)? What, then, are the various Old Testament echoes that play into the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15, that Matthew quotes in v. 18? In what sense is this prophecy “fulfilled” (v. 17)? How does the prophecy not only describe suffering, but also point forward to expectant hope?
3. What Old Testament echoes appear when we read that “those who sought the child’s life are dead” (v. 20; cf. Ex. 4:19)? What are the various options that have been suggested for what Matthew means when he speaks of the prophecy being fulfilled, “that he would be called a Nazarene” (v. 23)? What is the most likely explanation for what Matthew means? How does Jesus’ move to safety in Nazareth play a role in Jesus’ perception later on?
4. How do you normally respond to suffering? Why is it so difficult to see the hand of God in our suffering? What does this story teach us about the reasons that Jesus suffered as he began to lay claim to his rightful kingdom? What does this story teach us about the reasons that we must suffer with Christ (Rom. 8:16–17)? What challenges your faith as you consider this? What promises from this might strengthen you as you steel yourself for suffering that may come?