Our scripture for this Sunday is Matthew 2:13-23.
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 escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” 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 are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, 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. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
After Jesus is born, the Gospel of Matthew tells us of an angry king seeking to destroy the one who would end his reign. This passage appears only in Matthew. The gospels of Mark and John both begin with Jesus as an adult, and while Luke’s Gospel contains the beautiful birth narrative we just read, it doesn’t report the flight to Egypt as does Matthew.
So, is one of these stories wrong? Not necessarily; read any two biographies of a well known person and you will find some differing accounts. It could be that God inspired the writers differently because they were writing to different groups. Matthew may have included this because it mirrors Israel’s history – going to Egypt as Joseph’s family did to escape the famine, children being murdered by an angry king as Pharaoh ordered the execution of the Hebrew babies, being directed to a specific place to live as God had led them to the promised land.
Whatever the reason, Matthew reports that Joseph obeyed God’s instructions to protect the newborn king. God is telling us that He has done this before to connect with us, that He wants to be the center of our lives and we can trust Him to take care of us. When we listen to His word in scripture and follow His commands, we are becoming part of His plan for salvation.
Loving Lord, we ask that You continue to lead us throughout our lives. You sent Jesus to teach us to be obedient and to love each other as You first loved us. Thank You for such a blessing. Amen.