A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quote of the Day 2009.10: Matthew's Unexpected Messiah

"Yet Jesus is just a little child. He has no royal courtiers to care for him, no military guard to defend him. He has no palace or army. In fact, an ominous note is sounded. This vulnerable, humble little claimant to Israel's throne will be threatened by the conniving tyrant, Herod. Who will care for the little future king? Who will protect him? How can he possibly survive to bring about those roles prophesied by him?"

"This is what makes the unexpectedness of Matthew's story so striking. The ambition, strength, and strategy of Herod and the religious leadership of Jerusalem are contrasted with the vulnerability of the child. Herod's entire career was marked by ruthless ambition as he deposed all the Hasmonean aspirants to the throne. He orchestrated alliances with whomever was in power in Rome so that he had the strength of the Roman military and political machines behind him. He had a callous brilliance behind his strategy, keeping at bay the competing forces in Israel through grudging gratitude for his building accomplishments, yet fear of his cruelty and hatred of his religious and political treachery No aspirant to the throne could hope to compete with Herod-- especially one so vulnerable as the infant Jesus lying helplessly in the arms of a young, peasant mother and protected only by a lowly, unproven father from the insignificant town of Nazareth."

"Yet throughout the narrative, the theme that underlies all of these events is that God is in control. As he begins his redemption of humanity, his hand is on every event that transpires. The miraculous appearance of the star to Gentile Magi signaled that God was initiating messianic deliverance for Israel-- and for all humanity. The child and parents are sovereignly routed to Bethlehem, his prophesied birthplace, despite living in faraway Nazareth. With a significance that they could not fully comprehend, pagan Magi prostrate themselves in worship of the only One who is divinely worthy of their veneration. The humble child and parents are providentially supplied with gifts that will enable them to escape the increasingly murderous ravages of a paranoid slaughterer. And the devious plan of one of the most powerful figures in the ancient world is stymied by innocent Magi as they heed a miraculous warning in a dream. In spite of recurring hostile circumstances, God's sovereign care is exercised in Jesus Messiah's earthly life."

Michael J. Wilkins, Matthew. The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 103.

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