Day Two: Tuesday, June 9th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 2:1-23
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”
The importance of the Old Testament in this first book of the New Testament is almost impossible to overemphasize. As we read together you will be encouraged either to remember some of the stories that serve as the foundation of our faith, or perhaps to discover these rich episodes in the history of Israel for your very first time.
The second chapter of Matthew provides just such an opportunity.
- Bethlehem is where another king made his appearance. Commanded by God to find a replacement for the failed King Saul, the prophet Samuel followed the instructions of God and made his way to Bethlehem. God said, “I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” I Samuel 16 recounts the anointing of David, who was the youngest of Jesse’s sons, not even deemed worthy to attend this big event. Through the call of David we learn the beautiful and blessed lesson that although, “Humans look at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart.”
- Egypt was the setting of God’s great act of deliverance for Israel. But before Egypt was a place of oppression, Egypt was a place of salvation. The dreamer named Joseph rose through God’s providence to a powerful position in Egypt and thus was able to rescue his family in their time of crisis. It was only when another ruler arose who did not know Joseph that trouble set in. Egypt became a place where the ruthless acts of Pharaoh caused life to be bitter for the people of God. While all these details can be found by exploring the story of Joseph and his brothers beginning in Genesis 37 and continuing right into Exodus, Matthew’s reference from the Old Testament, “Out of Egypt I called my son,” comes from Hosea. If this is your first foray into Hosea, let me just warn you to buckle up. And yet don’t let that warning keep you from reading to the later parts of Hosea. Treated poorly through countless acts of unfaithfulness, God nevertheless pours out his heart to his children, coming down firmly on the side of grace. “My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” (Hosea 11:8)
- Rachel weeping for her children is a double-edged sword that both cuts and heals. During the times before and during the exile to Babylon, Israel experienced a devastating upheaval. When the prophet Jeremiah referenced Rachel weeping for her children he was acknowledging the sad truth that innocent children often bear the brunt of suffering. Herod’s heartless murder of the innocents, following the cruel precedent set by Pharaoh way back in Exodus, is yet another example of how sin stains our world. But in Jeremiah, Rachel’s weeping is comforted as God points to a return from exile and the restoration of hope. (Jeremiah 31)
I think it goes without saying that Matthew has a lot to say in the second chapter of his gospel. Lest we become disheartened because some of these details escape our attention, do not be discouraged. The wise men that came from the East knew none of this information, and yet it did not keep them from doing the one thing God desires of everyone who meets his beloved Son. They bowed down in worship. Here we are in June, and yet it is never out of season to sing the familiar carol, “O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.”
According to Martin Luther “The wise men here teach us the true faith. After they heard the sermon and the word of the prophet they were not slow to believe, in spite of obstacles and difficulties. First they came to Jerusalem, the capitol, and did not find him, the star also disappearing. (It would have been easy for them to say) Alas, we have traveled so far in vain, the star has misled us, it was a phantom…Yet when the wise men had overcome their temptation (to doubt and give up) they were born again by the great joy and took no offense at Christ…For although they enter a lowly hut and find a poor young wife with a poor little child, and find less of royal appearance than the homes of their own servants, they are not led astray. But in a great, strong, living faith they…treat the child as a king.” (Sermons of Martin Luther, Volumes 1-2, “Epiphany, p. 363)