Friday, October 28, 2011

Jesus' Early Life of Obscurity

Matt 2:16-23 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."  After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead." So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

Jesus' life is clearly in the hand of the Father. Even Herod who had all the political power and cunning was outwitted not so much "by the Magi" (as he supposed) but by our heavenly Father. But unfortunately, he lived up to his murderous reputation by giving orders to kill all baby boys two years and younger in Bethlehem. Why did this man think He could frustrate the plan and purpose of the Almighty God? People who oppose the purposes of God bring greater disasters to their society. When men learn to live by the purposes of God the nation prospers and the people are blessed. As God's people in the marketplace, our role is to declare the purposes of God and to confront those who work against God's purposes and laws, not to condemn others but in order to protect the welfare of the nations.

When Joseph returned back to Israel from Egypt, he avoided Judea because of Herod's son Archelaus, who was equally murderous. Instead, Joseph brought his family to Nazareth, a relatively unknown town where he could raise his family away from the scrutiny of the powers to be. So, Jesus grew up in the outback town of Nazareth and was therefore called a Nazarene. For thirty years, Jesus lived a relatively normal human life, growing up, getting his education in the Torah -- just like any Jewish boy in a godly Jewish family. In the course of time, other siblings came along, not knowing his true self-identity except his parents.

Jesus' public ministry was only three years -- 10% of his life. But it was in the last three years of his life that he made his greatest impact in human history. Not to say that the rest of his 30 years were wasted. But they were preparation years - memorizing the Scriptures, attending the synagogues on Sabbath, learning to be a carpenter from his father Joseph. Quiet but formative years. The parenting roles of Joseph and Mary were critical in his early childhood development, both in imparting their love of God to him and also in teaching him precious lessons at the carpenter's workshop.

We don't need a privileged life to live significant life for God. A humble background with God is better than a privileged life without God.

Father, what a wonderful demonstration of Your grace and love for Your own Son when You placed Him in the care of earthly parents who loved You and walked in Your ways. What wisdom that You did not let Your Son be born in the palace in Jerusalem where the political and religious centre was but in a relatively unknown town called Nazareth, away from prying eyes. Thank You Lord that we don't need a privileged environment to become significant persons who can make an impact in the world.  Amen.

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