<<Lesson 7 Lesson 9>>
Nine Lessons for Christmas
8. The Return from Egypt
reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
When Herod had died,
behold, the angel of the Lord
appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
“Rise, take the child and his
and go to the land of
for those who sought the
child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his
mother, and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that
Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned
in a dream,
he departed for the region of
He went and dwelt in a town
so that what had been spoken
through the prophets might be fulfilled,
“He shall be called a
Matthew sees Jesus in Nazareth as consistent
with God’s plan
For those who sought the
child’s life are dead: Moses, who had fled from Egypt because the Pharaoh
sought to kill him (see Exodus 2:15), was told to return there, “for all the
men who sought your life are dead” (Exodus 4:19).
With the agreement of the
emperor Augustus, Archelaus received half of his father’s kingdom, including
Judea, after Herod’s death. He had the title
“ethnarch” (i.e., “ruler of a nation”) and reigned from 4 B.C. to A.D. 6.
Nazareth…he shall be called a
Nazorean: the tradition of Jesus’ residence in Nazareth was firmly established,
and Matthew sees it as being in accordance with the foreannounced plan of
God. The town of Nazareth is not
mentioned in the Old Testament, and no such prophecy can be found there. The vague expression “through the prophets”
may be due to Matthew’s seeing a connection between Nazareth and certain texts
in which there are words with a remote similarity to the name of that town. Some such Old Testament texts are Isaiah
11:1 where the Davidic king of the future is called “a bud” (nēser) that shall blossom from the roots of Jesse,
and Judges 13:5, 7 where Samson, the future deliverer of Israel
from the Philistines, is called one who shall be consecrated (a nāzîr) to God.
Let Your goodness Lord appear
to us, that we made in your image, conform ourselves to it. In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder nor is it fitting for us to
try. But Your mercy reaches from the heavens through the clouds to the
earth below. You have come to us as a small child, but you have brought
us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love.