Matt 2: Jesus’ Humanity
This is the start of our e-study gentlemen! Over the past week, I have been transitioning back into life in Victoria and life as a student. I have one prayer request this week. I ask you to pray that I keep my mind on the Lord. It is so easy to get distracted and prioritize other aspects of my life over the Lord. School and the “student lifestyle” make it very easy for partying, sports or career goals to take the spot of God. Therefore, I ask you to pray that my relationship with the Lord remains the most important thing in my life.
The last two weeks I have been reading “More than a Carpenter” as well as spending time in Job and Matthew. I haven’t done as much reading and reflecting as I’ve meant to, so this week I will talk about what I learned at Church and in my young adult’s bible study. Maybe I’ll get into some of my own interpretations. I have no idea where this will take me.
Both the Sermon and Bible study focused on Matthew Chapter 2. I encourage you to read it, but I will give a quick summary. Matthew 2 starts after Jesus was born. The magi come, pay their respects and sneak off before Herod realizes he is tricked. Herod kills all the baby boys under two around Bethlehem, but Jesus escapes with his family to Egypt. When Herod dies they return and settle in Nazareth. Several important prophecies are fulfilled. Jeremiah 31 and Hosea 11 may be useful to read.
This is a chapter that doesn’t make it into a lot of sermons. I think this is because people skip from the miracle of Christmas to the “important” chapters where Jesus is engaged in his ministry. My Pastor, Travis, suggested (NOTE: from this point forward I mostly paraphrase him) that another reason why this chapter may not be preached on is that it brings up tough questions without obvious answers or lessons. How could God spare Jesus from Herod’s massacre, yet let hundreds or thousands of other babies die? Did Jesus feel “survivors guilt” over this very same incident?
This chapter speaks strongly and makes us ask questions about Jesus’ humanity. His divinity is never out of our minds, but I think many of us forget or downplay his humanity. Matthew 2 shows Jesus as completely dependent on his earthly and heavenly parents, it reminds us that he spent his early years as a refugee, that many were killed for him, and that, as a child, he would have to deal with that emotionally and spiritually. We can only get to God through Christ (John 14:6) and I think it is a lot easier to relate and build a relationship with a Lord who has lived among us with all the limitations that we have. It reminds me that if the divine can become fully human, then perhaps there’s a lot more divinity in our humanity than we think. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt 25:40).
There are a lot of parallel’s between Jesus’ upbringing and the growth of Israel as a nation. Both fled into Egypt in the face of hunger or persecution, and both were brought out by God. Coming out of Jesus, Israel was given the “Jewish” law by God, but they consistently failed to live up to it. Hosea 11:1 speaks of this: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me.” Jesus on the other hand, brings the completion and perfection of the law. Jesus was called by God, and lived the perfect life.
I have heard people say that Christianity is not a “life giving” religion. I believe this is primarily because one can come to God, have faith, and be saved. There is nothing you can do to save yourself, it is through faith and His grace. If God does all the work for me, then why does anything I do matter? What is my purpose? I personally think Christianity is extremely life giving, but I believe this is what people mean when they say it is not.
I (instructed by Travis again) disagree strongly with this. And I think the apostles and Gospel writers would too. God is the only one who can save us, but if we truly believe we are saved, then we have some work to do, for His Kingdom. The Gospel writers spend most of their time on detailing Jesus’ ministry and daily life. If this was unimportant and all that matters is Jesus dying for us, why spend the time telling us how to live a Christian life? Because we are required to “make disciples of all the nations”. The Lord expects that we multiply the talents we are giving, for it is the “wicked, lazy servant” (Matt 25:26) who does not. How and why Jesus lived was extremely important, and we are call to emulate it. There will be tribulations, but there will also be joy beyond compare.
NOTE: I read a really good perspective/tolerance post about a gay Christian on Humans of New York. Here is the link, it’s short.