This sermon is number 3 in a series of 3
Matthew's First Christmas - Part 3
"The Fulfilment Of Truth In The Foggiest Of Times"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2003 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
If you're a visitor with us today, or perhaps you haven't been out in the last couple of weeks, we began three Sundays ago today a series called 'Matthew's First Christmas' - and we looked specifically at the Nativity scene that we find in Matthew's gospel, and what he's trying to teach us from it. We've reached verse 12 now, the end of verse 12, beginning to read at verse 13 of chapter 2 of Matthew's Nativity scene.
So chapter 2 and verse 13: "And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah", it says here Jeremy, but really it means Jeremiah, "the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene".
Now you will remember that two weeks ago we looked at the beginning of these verses, verses 18 to the end of chapter 1, under the title: 'The Fulfilment of Truth in the Fullness of Time'. Then last week we looked at the first 12 verses of chapter 2 under the title: 'The Fulfilment of Truth In The Foulest of Times', and we looked particularly at the contemporary situation to which the Lord Jesus came to this world. Then this week we want to look at the remaining verses of chapter 2 under the title: 'The Fulfilment of Truth in the Foggiest of Times' - and hopefully it will be made clear, not too foggy, as we go through this study this morning what I mean by that.
Of course I laid down several weeks ago, and of course last week, that what we have here in Matthew's gospel is not really an account of the birth and the early childhood of the Lord Jesus, but rather what Matthew gives us as the editor of the truth of God in this gospel is a series of scenes specifically to show us God's purpose, how God declared in the Old Testament Scriptures that there would be a Redeemer, a Saviour, a Messiah, and how in Matthew's day all of those Old Testament prophecies were coming to fulfilment before the people's very eyes. So what Matthew does for us specifically, perhaps more than any of the other gospel writers, is he traces the fulfilment of God's plan that has been revealed within the Scriptures.
Of course we have quoted that verse so often in the last two studies, Galatians 4 verse 4, that: 'In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman'. What Matthew's chief end is in giving us these first few chapters of his gospel, is to show us that God always honours His word. No matter how difficult personal circumstances in Joseph and Mary's life may have been, God was going to honour His word. No matter how much time had passed since these Old Testament prophecies have been given, some 700 or so years had passed, God honoured His word no matter how much time had transpired. We saw last week in the specific situation of the country that God honours His word even when kings and countries blasphemed it. We saw that God honours His word even when the religious establishment apostasizes. We saw in the wise men that God always honours His word, and sometimes He honours it from the most unexpected and unnatural sources.
Now chapter 2 that we're looking at this morning, the second half, focuses specifically on the geographical movements of the infant, the Lord Jesus Christ. As you look at the story from verse 13 to verse 23 you see that we follow His movements, His birthplace of course we know was the town of Bethlehem, the City of David; but we find that He moves from there to the land of Egypt. Then as we follow the story He then moves eventually back to the land of Judaea, and then from a dream given to Joseph the angel tells him to move on to Galilee where eventually he resides in a town called Nazareth - hence, that is why we have the name 'Jesus of Nazareth'.
Now I want you to remember that, that this portion of Matthew's nativity scene is specifically geographical. Another remarkable fact about it is the many Old Testament quotations that we find in chapter 2. Verse 15, if you look at it: 'And the child was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled', there's that formula, 'which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son' - and in the margin you have Hosea 11 and verse 1, where God prophesied this in the Old Testament Scriptures. Then in verses 17 and 18 another fulfilment: 'Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not' - your margin tells you that those two prophecies really were found in Jeremiah 31:15 and Jeremiah 40 verse 1. Then we look at verse 23, the final prophecy: 'And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene'. Remarkable fulfilments of Old Testament prophecy!
Another remarkable factor in chapter 2 is also the recurrent dreams by which Joseph, the Lord Jesus' earthly adoptive father, was guided from place to place geographically. Look at verse 13, he has a dream: 'And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt'. Verse 19, another dream: 'But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child back to the land of Israel'. Then verse 22, as he's on his way he gets fearful and he reasons that because Herod's son Archelaus is now reigning that it may be troublesome and dangerous to go back to Judaea, so the angel appears again to him in a dream in such a remarkable way.
But all this, the fulfilment of Scripture and the dreams that Joseph was given by these angels, were all moving the Christ-child geographically from one scene to another. Each of these Old Testament quotations that are fulfilled in this text have a place name in them. Look at them, look at verse 13, he is told to move to Egypt. In our previous study you saw that it was Bethlehem, verse 6, in the land of Judah that was to be His birthplace. Born in Bethlehem, moving to Egypt, you move further down and in verse 18 you find that Rama is mentioned, and Judaea is mentioned, and then in verse 23 in this prophecy the town of Nazareth is mentioned. All of this suggests to us that Matthew's concern now in these remaining verses is to show that these changes of location of the Christ-child were in no way haphazard - have you got that? That everywhere the baby Jesus went in these early days of His childhood was directed by God, but more than that: was foreshadowed in the Old Testament writings, and God was fulfilling and honouring His word as this little family moved on their journeys.
Now we could sum that statement up by saying simply this: geography matters to God - now some of you young people might be saying: 'Well, geography doesn't matter to me!'. I was caught on one occasion falling asleep in my own geography class, so I can't say anything to that! We could contemporise it to ourselves today and apply it to our own Christian experience by saying this in a sort of paraphrase: 'It matters to God where all of His children are'. Do you understand that? It matters, it even matters in a geographical sense where you are as a human being.
It would be easy at a casual reading of this nativity story, or whatever Gospel you care to open, to think that this exciting story is filled with surprise and the unexpected - it's filled with shock and emergency - and we could be forgiven for thinking that. Yet the fact of the matter is, what Matthew wants to get across to us is, all that happens in this story is in fulfilment to God's word - even the details of geography! Now let me bring this right down to your level just now, because there are times in our lives - at least in my life, I don't know about you, I imagine you're the same - when things may appear to be out of control, when chaos has been let reign, anarchy seems to be ruling, yet we can take comfort from a story like this. This little child is in danger of its life, it's father doesn't know what to do, he's being guided from one post to pillar by dreams of an angel; maybe questioning them at times, thinking is it his own imagination. His son's life is at stake in all of this, but behind the scenes we are given by the inspiration of the Holy Scripture in Matthew's gospel to know that God is in absolute control of this scene and therefore, Matthew wants us to know, God is sovereign in our lives as well. No matter what is going on in the land, in our family, in our domestic scene, in the political realm, in the regal realm, in the ecclesiastical realm, God is always in control and God will always fulfil His word.
God has given a promise, God will honour that promise - why? Because this God is our God, and as Ephesians 1:11 says: 'In whom', in that God, 'also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will'. That is our God! What comfort that should bring to us! Maybe there is someone here, and I haven't really started to get into this study yet, but this is so important: maybe there's someone here and you just don't understand what is happening. There have been times in your life when you have been able to decipher and discern, perhaps, what God is doing in your circumstances - but just now you're blinded to it all! Well know, my child, that God is still in control! If you're His child, He has predestinated the purpose of your life to work always after the counsel of His will - isn't that wonderful? I think that's the sentiment in that hymn that we often sing:
'I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned.
I only know at His right-hand
Stands One who is my Saviour'.
There we are anchored! Now we really get to know our Saviour's ways and workings when we see how He came in quiet defiance of the circumstances that prevailed in His age in order to fulfil God's word. Let's look at a further three this morning for our comfort and exhortation. Here's the first: God's word outlives His most vehement enemies. I hope you're taking notes on these, I think they're rather good - if I say so myself - God's word always outlives His most vehement enemies. We read in verse 15 that they departed and they fled, of course, from the threat of Herod, and the Lord through an angel told them to take the young child, and when he arose they went to Egypt and eventually they heard that Herod had died, and they were enabled then to bring the child back to Judaea. But we see in Herod, and we looked very specifically last week at his awful character, but we see in Herod I believe an anti-type of Satan himself.
In John chapter 8:44 the Lord Jesus tells us that Satan is a liar, he is a thief, and he is a murderer, and he comes to destroy God's people and indeed all people. We read in verse 3 of this chapter 2 that Herod was troubled at the news of the birth of the Lord Jesus. Then he inquired of his wise men what the time and place of this birth should be, by pretence that he was going to go and worship the child. We know that he wasn't at all, verse 7. Then we find that he makes a decree that all the children under two years of age should be slaughtered in verse 16, and what we see is Satan moving in the midst of a man, in a real human being, disguising himself as an angel of light wanting to worship the Christ-child when all he wants to do is slaughter Him.
We have that scene in Revelation chapter 12 you read there about a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and a woman with twelve stars around her head gives birth to a child. Of course the woman signifies Israel, the twelve tribes, and as she gives birth to that child it says that that great red dragon sought to devour the man child - and that is exactly what is happening here. Satan in Herod is trying to wipe out the King of kings and the Lord of lords on the earth, but the fact of the matter is that God's word always outlives His most vehement enemies, and death removed this king just the way it removes all kings.
It was Job who said: 'The triumphing of the wicked is short'. Oh yes, David could say in Psalm 37 that at times the wicked seem to be like a green bay tree, they seem to be always extending their influence, their tentacles of iniquity - but praise God, in a relative sense, to the God who is the eternal one from everlasting to everlasting it is short lived! Ask yourself this morning: what has happened to the Pharaohs of Egypt that opposed God? What has happened to the Herod's and his dynasty? What has happened to the Nero's? On your TVs this week you'll see a great film epic of the downfall of the Roman Empire, you should watch it because it is fulfilment of the whole of the Holy Scriptures, and what the Lord Jesus said when the cities would be left unto them desolate - Jerusalem - but how also Rome would fall one day, and will fall another day again. Diocletian, the Emperor who wiped out the early Christians, what about Bloody Mary who put to death all those great reformers of the Protestant faith? Every one of them fearlessly and fiercely persecuted God's people and God's church, but where are they today? They are rotting in their graves, but the truth of God that they tried to uproot rises again and again from the blood of the martyrs - and it still reigns, it still exists, it is still here, we still have our Bibles! Thank God for them! Volitaire, that atheist philosopher and opponent of the Gospel, you may know that on one occasion he predicted that Christianity would be dead in a generation, and after he died do you know what happened to his house, where he had written all his proliferation of blasphemy? It was turned into the first printing press of the Bible Society, and sent the word of God all over the world! Why? Because God's word always outlives His most vehement enemies - the Lord liveth forever and ever, and no one can outlive Him. The Lord Jesus said: 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away'.
Even though we take great delight in that fact, maybe where you are in your life you can't see God bringing to fruition His word in your circumstances. The reason why that is, is that God's ways are not always our ways, His plans do not always peter out the way we would expect - and believe it or not that is exactly the way it was for His only begotten Son when He came to the world. Have you ever read this story and thought to yourself - maybe you haven't - 'Why didn't God provide a miracle? Why didn't He miraculously hide the Lord Jesus from Herod? Why didn't He wait until a time when Herod was dead? Why didn't He do something supernatural?'. But we see that God provided no miracles to protect His own Son - oh, He gave them a dream, Joseph got instructions - but he wasn't carried there on a chariot like Elijah, no, he had to walk. They had to stay in the squalor and poverty of Egypt, and then after not long move back and then move on to Galilee and a place called Nazareth - which we'll see a little later was not the Hilton hotel by any measure.
We read in the gospel called a spurious gospel, the gospel of the Infancy of the Lord Jesus Christ - it's an apocryphal writing - that there are many who believe that on the Lord Jesus' flight to Egypt as a child that there were a great many miracles performed. When you read it you read that wherever this child was meant to go idols and false gods were broken to pieces and fell on their face. You read in this gospel that a three -year-old child of an Egyptian priest who was possessed by demons and devils put one of the swaddling cloths of the Lord Jesus on his head and the demon fled. You read of a woman possessed by demons too, who was healed by looking at the Virgin Mary. You read about robbers who fled in terror before the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. You read about all sorts of diseases that were healed, including leprosy - and it goes on and on and on and on, but that is all nonsense! We don't read of any of that in the Scriptures, in fact we see no miracles with regards to the dealings of God with His own Son when He was in the most vehement danger from His most vehement enemies.
How simple our story is before us today, when we think for a moment that God could have transported His Son by a miracle. He could have called 10,000 angels, but the fact of the matter was this: Jesus had to come as a man, and now He had to enter into everything that it was to be a man, He had to go along the long weary road. It says that the Son of God had to flee, no miracle for Him. What does that say to us today? Do you ever get on your knees and say: 'Lord, I need a miracle'? Now I know God can do miracles, praise God we believe that, but sometimes we feel it's our right to have a miracle, don't we? The Son of God didn't get a miracle here, but what I want you to see is that even in the lack of a miracle God still honoured His word. You don't need miracles for God to fulfil His promises. In Hosea 11 verse 1 about how they would flee to Egypt was fulfilled, it was prophesied about 700 years before this. The original setting of Hosea's prophecy was Israel's deliverance from Egypt in the Exodus to the promised land - but Hosea, inspired by the Holy Spirit, was giving a double meaning: that there would come a day when Messiah would be closely paralleled to His nation Israel, and He would move from Judaea to Egypt.
Now if you look at the Old Testament history of the Jews, you will see that it is a continuous cycle of sin, disobedience, apostasy, and shame. But what Hosea's prophecy was saying was: when the true One comes He will be the absolute epitome of true obedience to God, and He will go through the history of His people all over again and correct it all to the glory of God! He had to go down to Egypt to the house of bondage. Jesus had to go through the Red Sea, isn't that what Peter says baptism is like? You look at chapter 3 of Matthew's gospel, after He comes out of Egypt, where is He? He's going through the sea of baptism. What happened to the children of Israel when they came through the Red Sea, they went into the wilderness and wandered about for 40 years of what? Temptation - where was Jesus in chapter 4 of Matthew's gospel? Forty days and nights in the wilderness being tempted of the devil - but out of it all He comes through victorious, glorious, and all conquering...and without sin! But there was no mighty miracles - oh, the miracles came, but there was no miracles to deliver the Lord Jesus out of the hardships and the sorrows and the humanity of it all. In fact, from His very infancy death hung over His head because he was born to die - we know that, but it wasn't God's appointed time! This tells us that anyone who walks in God's will is immortal until God's work in them is done. Isn't it?
God's word outlives His most vehement enemies - here's the second point: God's word survives the most rampant evil - verses 16 to 18. Now we have learned and got to know this old rogue Herod over the last couple of weeks, but we find that in the last years of his reign he became increasingly paranoid, and he sought always to defend his throne which led him to execute many imagined claimants including three of his own sons and his favourite wife - he thought that they wanted power. Herod was like himself when he made the order to slaughter all these boy children in Bethlehem and the coast roundabout under the age of two. He was showing his cruel and crafty character as we know him. Now let me just give a word of caution, because some people when they read this story envisage that there's hundreds of little boys being killed here - the probability is, most scholars think there was about only twenty or so children that were killed in Bethlehem alone, because if you go to Bethlehem today there is only approximately 20,000 people that even live there now. The fact of the matter is, no matter how few or how many there were, it doesn't minimise the horror of it all - the horrendous crime of infanticide.
Now I'm not going to start to get into a philosophical debate about the problem of evil and why it exists, because I couldn't even start on that one or answer any of those big questions - I'm not sure if any of us can. But imagine the evil of infanticide here - these little babies being slaughtered, now I'm not suggesting that it was God's will that children should die in this manner, don't misquote me on that. But the fact of the matter is that even out of such a dark occurrence, God's will was being fulfilled. In Jeremiah 31:15, 600 or so years before this actual event, Jeremiah prophesied that these children would be killed. Now to understand that prophecy you have to review Jewish history to find the first mention of the city of Bethlehem, and it's found in connection with the death of Jacob's favourite wife, Rachel. That's why you have Rachel crying in verses 17 and 18. Now do you know the story of that? We read it in Genesis 35, that Rachel was in childbirth and she gave birth to a son, and she died in giving birth to that son - but just before she died she named that son Benoni, which means in interpretation 'son of my sorrow'. Now after she died Jacob renamed that son Benoni 'Benjamin', which means 'son of my right hand', and erected a pillar near to Bethlehem as a memorial to his wife that had died.
Now mark this please, this is all prophetic: 'Benoni' means 'son of my sorrow', and then he renames him 'Benjamin' 'son of my right hand' - could anything point more towards the Lord Jesus Christ, in the midst of such rampant evil, surviving, suffering, going through it all, enduring victoriously, and then coming out the end as the great conqueror, the man of sorrows acquainted with grief, the true Benoni, but also the Benjamin because Peter said as he addressed those Jews: 'Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins' - isn't it glorious? That was the original prophecy.
Now in Jeremiah's time, looking back to Rachel's death, he would have been thinking how many wept on that day - but looking to his own situation he was thinking how the women were weeping as their sons and their husbands went into captivity in Babylon. That was Jeremiah's day, but it's also now looking forward to a day when Rachel would be weeping - i.e. Israel - would be weeping, Bethlehem would be weeping, for the little baby boys that are slaughtered. Now listen: whenever somebody mentions Bethlehem to you, what do you think of? Is it death? Is it weeping? Is it slaughter? Is it mourning? Is it crying? Is it infanticide? What is it? It is life! And the Lord Jesus coming and being born in Bethlehem turned everything around, and made Bethlehem from a place of death to a place of life - and that is what He has done for us all, isn't it? He has come into our darkness and He has shed abroad His love in our hearts!
Praise His wonderful name, and I'll tell you Herod, you aren't just mocked by the wise men - you remember they were to return to him, and they never bothered - but all Herod's, all those who oppose God's will, are mocked by a higher than mere wise men, for the word of God says: 'He that sitteth in the heavens doth laugh at thee, the Lord shall have thee in derision. He disappointeth the devices of the crafty so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong' - and there's some in this meeting would do well to take note of that! Jesus will die, but He will die in His time, for His purpose in God's will, and through death that He might destroy him that has the power over death - that is the devil - and deliver them who, through the fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage - glory to His name!
Thirdly and finally: God's word is fulfilled in the most humblest of homes - isn't that lovely? We've read an awful lot in these couple of weeks about kings, wise men, astronomers, nations, kingdoms, dynasties, histories etc etc - but this tells us, verses 19 to 23, specifically verse 23, that even these great prophecies of Scripture can be fulfilled, and are, in the most humblest of ways. Now certainly Joseph and Mary would have prayed and sought God's will, they were told to leave Egypt and go back to Judaea - verse 15, 16 - and then later on they're told to go back to Judaea. When Joseph hears in verse 22 that Archelaus, that's Herod's son, reigns in Judaea he starts to get the collywobbles and he's afraid to go there because he knows what will happen. In fact, we know from historical records that Archelaus was even worse than his father Herod.
Now this is just a thing to note on our journeys here: they had prayed about it, they waited on God, but commonsense came into the equation. Joseph hadn't got the word from God, he was just fearful when he heard that Archelaus was there, and he realised that this wasn't the right thing to do - it doesn't make sense, it's not reasonable. Now in this chapter alone you have four factors of God's guidance in the life, and you would do well to mark this: one, the knowledge of Scripture - all these Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled; two, revelation from heaven - the wise men saw the star. The Scribes and the Pharisees knew the Scriptures, but they never saw the star - they didn't see God's revelation speaking to them. Three, the commonsense that God had given Joseph was exercised - I wonder at times do we exercise our commonsense? These three things in communion together with Joseph and Mary's faith, and waiting and praying in obedience to God, brought together God's will and God answered it, and God gave them a dream and told them to go to the town of Nazareth.
That's just interesting, but let's look at this place called Nazareth - the last fulfilment of prophecy, verse 23: 'And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets'. Now please circle that 's'. Right throughout this passage 'prophet' is mentioned, but here you have 'prophets': 'He shall be called a Nazarene'. Now you can look until your thumbs wrinkle, licking it that many times going through Scripture, until your pages are dog-eared - you will not find one prophet that said these words: 'He shall be called a Nazarene'. There isn't one. Prove me wrong! There isn't one. So, many scholars will say: 'Well, 'nezor' (sp?) is the Hebrew word for 'branch', and Zechariah talks about Christ the Messiah coming forth as a branch, or the sprout of the Lord found in Isaiah, or in Isaiah 11 He's talked about as the branch of David's roots'. I think that's a bit far-fetched, personally, that 'nezor' could be related to 'Nazareth' - but when you look at the town of Nazareth you find that Nazareth was called 'Nazareth of Galilee', and Galilee was called 'Galilee of the Gentiles' because there were so many Gentiles that lived in the area. In fact, so many were there, that the Pharisees and the Scribes looked down upon it - you remember Nathanael, when he was sitting meditating on spiritual things, said: 'Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?'. It was a despised place.
In fact, the inhabitants were called in Hebrew 'amhoretseen' (sp?), which means 'ignorant men' - we would call them 'eejits'. The Jews in Jerusalem hated them, they were despised, all of Galilee - but even those who lived in Galilee despised people who lived in Nazareth. Now what did it mean to be born in Nazareth? It meant to be despised, it meant to be rejected, it meant to be a man of sorrows, and what we have here is the Christ of God who was rich for all eternity being made poor and finding His abode in an awful place called Nazareth. You say: 'You're not answering the question of who spoke the prophecy' - well, I think all the prophets spoke that prophecy, didn't they? Go through them all and you will find about the rejection of Messiah, how that His hands would be pierced - David in Psalm 22; how Zechariah says Judaism will look on Him who they have pierced - you can go on and on and on, and you find that their major theme is the rejection of the man of sorrows, the servant of Jehovah. They all spoke about it! God was fulfilling His word.
But just think about it for a moment, what it meant for the Son of God to come to a place like Nazareth! In Nazareth, all that we read is that He was subject to Mary and Joseph - what a humiliation for the sovereign God of heaven! We assume that He worked in his father's carpenter shop, and we know mathematically - now mark this please - that 5/6 of the time that the Saviour lived in this world on the earth was spent in Nazareth among the poor, and He passed away 30 years of His days in complete obscurity. What humility is that!
He shall be called a Nazarene, and then when He eventually comes forth at the age of 30, where does He start it? He started in Galilee, and then He's rejected again, and He ends up at last being cast out of Jerusalem, outside the camp. The early Christians, after His death, His resurrection and ascension, were themselves called Nazarenes because they were called to take up the cross and follow Him, they were called to suffer His reproach with Him outside the camp, despising the shame.
Listen, I have to finish, and I haven't a clue where you are today, but can I just say: this is just the type of Saviour that the suffering and the sorrowful need. You are here with whatever burdens you have: He knows all too well what that means. When you tell Him in prayer about your troubles, and maybe you think: 'How could He understand this?', He sympathises, He emphasises. When you go through cruel persecution and cry from the depths of your soul, He understands - and therefore I urge you: keep nothing back from Him, go to Him and pour out all your heart for that's what He wants, and that's what He did when He was on the earth. He was heard in that He feared with strong crying and tears, but isn't it wonderful today to comfort our hearts that there is not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one. He knows all about our troubles, He will guide till the day is done. There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one.
Don't shoot me down as being a wimp, or a romantic, but I was watching 'Anne of Green Gables' the other night. Anne wanted a friend - you might know the story, I can't tell you it all, I don't know it all - but she called the friend that she wanted 'a bosom friend'. When she was asked what she meant by that, she said: 'I want a friend that is a kindred spirit'. There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus - and you see if you're His friend, one day that Messiah that suffered the contradiction of sinners will be exalted and given a name that is above every name, and you will be beside Him as He is beside God, the Son of His Right-hand - Hallelujah, what a Saviour!
Father, we unite and say glory to the new-born King. We thank Thee that the Lord Jesus did die, and He did rise again, and He is at Thy right-hand, and one day we will be with Him because now we are in Him. Father, we thank Thee for the wonder of all of our salvation, it's just boggling to our minds to think that the God of all glory became a baby, that we should be called the sons of God. We thank Thee, and we pray that this Christmas time from our hearts would ascend the gratitude and these lessons that we have learned, looking at Matthew's first Christmas, will not be lost - but like Mary we will ponder these things in our hearts, and they will help us, encourage us, and strengthen us for the way, for our journey where You are leading us. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the third tape in his "Matthew's First Christmas" study series, titled "The Fulfilment Of Truth In The Foggiest Of Times" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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