Tagged: Messiah

Matthew 2:13-23

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 29, 2013.

Matthew could be called the gospel of fulfillment.  Matthew quotes more Old Testament prophecies than any other gospel writer.  For instance, in the passage Matthew 2:13-23, the author quotes three Old Testament passages that are fulfilled in the birth and early childhood of Jesus.  There are three brief scenes in these ten verses.  Each scene ends with an announcement that what has preceded in the narrative was a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets.  For this reason these narratives are sometimes called pronouncement stories.

Matthew’s gospel is also filled with divine intervention through dreams.  God appears to Joseph in a dream to tell him that Mary’s pregnancy is a miraculous fulfillment of God’s will.  God appears to the Magi to warn them about Herod’s evil intentions.  God appears to Joseph to warn him about Herod’s murderous plans, and to give him the escape plan via Egypt.  And God appears to Joseph a third time to let him know that Herod was dead and the danger had passed.  The themes of God’s presence and sovereignty, along with the fulfillment of God’s plans are peppered throughout the narrative.

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Matthew 11:2-11

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 15, 2013.

The journey from expectation to disappointment is often short.  For John the Baptist, expectation peaked beside the Jordan River when he witnessed the Spirit descend on Jesus of Nazareth like a dove (Matthew 3:13-17).  From that moment he expected Jesus to be the promised Messiah.  Even when John was arrested for speaking truth to power (Matthew 4:12) he did not falter in his confidence, for he was certain that Herod’s reign was over.  It would be a matter of days before the baptism of fire, the threshing of the wheat, the chopping down of the fruitless trees would all begin (Matthew 3:11-12).

But that did not happen. The days in Herod’s prison at Machearus east of the Dead Sea stretched into weeks and then months.  No rumors were afoot about the Messiah mustering an army to overthrow Rome and its puppet king Herod.  Nothing occurred resembling any messianic expectations held by John and other faithful Jews.  It looked more and more like Jesus of Nazareth might not be “the coming one” (Matthew 11:3; Psalm 118:26; Malachi 3:1; Daniel 7:15).  How could Jesus be Messiah and John his herald if John were languishing in prison and opposition to Jesus were growing? John’s journey to disappointment was not yet complete, but he could see the city limits from his prison cell.

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