I can remember watching The Nativity Story and enjoying all the period costumes, their attempts to make it so that Mary didn’t want to marry Joseph because she didn’t love him, and the fact that they tried to shoehorn all the events of the birth into a one night event. Seriously, the movie doesn’t seem to know its source material very well, or have taken much concern about reflecting on a lot of the details we are given.
That being said, I appreciated being able to see and think through what it would have been like in the time period to have Herod trying to tax you out of existence!
I say all this, because the conversation between the Mary and Joseph characters on their way to Bethlehem always sticks with me. Mary wonders when they’ll know that he is God– something he says… something he does? Joseph ponders whether he’ll be able to teach him anything.
And the truth is, we don’t know much about this time in Jesus’ life, and it’s compounded by people trying to put all the events surrounding his birth together at his birth.
Today we look at the events that take place after his birth in Matthew chapter 2.
The Visit of the Wise Men
The testimony of the Shepherds, Anna, and Simeon of Jesus’ birth weren’t enough for the Jews of the time. Around two years later the Magi appear. Who were they? Gentile scholars from the east. Were there three or fourteen? We do not know. Yes, you read that right– the Magi appear two years after Jesus’ birth, headed out following the star to find the King of the Jews.
It must have been a surprise to them to see the star in the east, to travel to Jerusalem, and find that the people there didn’t know anything about his birth. Sure, they knew the prophecy, but those who lived close by were not aware of Jesus’ birth. Otherwise, it would have been quite the attraction, would it not? And if Herod had known, he could have done his evil deed much earlier.
Yes, Herod finds out how long ago the star appeared, and where the King of the Jews was to be born and then sends the wise men to find them and report back—obviously not to worship the child himself. He has more nefarious plans than that.
The Flight to Egypt
God always talks to Joseph in dreams, and this time is no different. Joseph is instructed to take Jesus and Mary out to Egypt to keep him safe and to fulfill the prophecy that was told that the Messiah would be called out of Egypt.
Here is probably where they used the gifts that the wise men gave them—which they would have needed in a strange land. I mean, can you imagine trying to pay for lodging food, etc. with no shop for Joseph to work in and no idea when they would return home?
Those three gifts, in whatever quantities the wise men brought, would definitely come in handy and would explain why Jesus and his family didn’t seem to get a lot of attention for their wealth when they returned.
Herod Kills the Children
Herod, upset that he cannot find the Christ child and fearing this “King” would supplant him, seeks to end his life the only way he knows how—killing all the children 2 and younger in Bethlehem, and fulfilling prophecy in the process.
The Return to Nazareth
Herod dies, and Joseph brings Mary back and settles in Nazareth. He comes and settles back in town, starts up his business, raises Jesus and his other children, and, at some point, dies such that we don’t hear of him again– other than being called the father of Jesus.