Why is it so important to the Christian faith that the story of Jesus begins with his conception and birth as a baby? The Christmas season prompts Christians to think more deeply about this element of our faith in Jesus, the Savior. We find in this lesson that the narrative setting in which Matthew includes his Christmas story bears important clues about the ultimate meaning of the fact that the Son of God came as a baby.
Matthew tells us very little about the circumstances of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus' return to Israel from Egypt. What Matthew wants us to focus on is that their settling in Nazareth in Galilee was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophets about the Christ. What could those things have been, since Nazareth is never mentioned in prophecies about the Christ? Why go to Galilee when no prophet comes from Galilee (John 7:52)? In answering these questions by "people watching" Joseph on his journey, we gain insights into the power and faithfulness of the great God and father of Jesus Christ our savior.
Matthew's story of Jesus gives us the tragic tale of Herod's murder of the innocents. Hoping to do away with Jesus' challenge to the throne, Herod orders the murder of all boys in the region of Bethlehem two years old and younger. Matthew gives an important clue to unlock the good news even in this unthinkable moment in history. There is yet hope, because God is already working to fulfill the promised salvation.