Thank you for joining us for our Journey Through the Gospel of Matthew sermon series and Bible study.
This week we explore Chapter 2 of Matthew’s Gospel, and unpack several themes within it’s pages including:
- Connecting God’s initiative with human history and space (“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea” – Matthew 2:1a).
- The Magi and the idea of the gospel being open to all people, but also the inclusion of Prevenient Grace as the way in which God calls forth people who have no knowledge of God.
- God warning Joseph to flee to Egypt.
- Return from Egypt and the fulfillment of prophesies.
One thing to attempt when reading through each chapter each week is to empty yourself of what you know. Many of us have encountered not just Matthew’s Gospel, but all of them, and so the stories begin to run together. Remember, Matthew, from the very beginning, sees Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel through Abraham, David and the prophets, and sees Jesus as the messianic king. This is perhaps why Matthew recalls the visit by the kingly Magi, and Luke focuses on the visit by the lowly shepherds. Focusing only on what is included in each chapter, and the chapters preceding it, will keep in focus Matthew’s primary understanding of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Matthew stresses the point of divine kingship in Chapter 1, then collides the kingship of Christ with the kings of the world as he places the birth of Jesus squarely in the center of human history and space. Matthew also places earthly and divine kingship at odds with one another in this chapter and sets this up as a continued struggle throughout the Gospel.
Prevenient Grace, meaning God’s love being made available to us before we are even aware of God, is presented here as the Magi seek to understand this new astrological event, what these astrologers were looking for was actually found in Christ – even though they were completely unaware when they set out on their journey.
Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, the focus is on God’s actions. The Magi find Christ, yet their action to go is a response to the divine initiative. Here, and throughout Matthew and all of Scripture, God’s grace precedes human actions. Joseph and Mary flee, but it’s at the direction of God, as well as their return.
These first two chapters of Matthew is a story of God’s activity. The baby Jesus isn’t seen as being able to do mighty deeds himself, Mary and Joseph are obedient, but acting on God’s initiatives. The child is born, guided, protected and taken to his home in Galilee by divine direction. For Matthew, the initiative is undoubtedly God’s alone….a setting for Prevenient Grace.
This weeks Reading: Matthew Chapter 2 (23 verses)
Prayer for the Week:
God of all time, we praise you for your actions in our lives. Open our eyes to your ways, and mold our hearts to your will so that we may go where you send us. Fill us with your divine hope, that we may have the confidence to respond to your grace as Joseph and Mary responded. Amen.
God of all time, I praise you for your actions in my life. Open my eyes to your ways, and mold my heart to your will so that I may go where you send me. Fill me with your divine hope, that I may have the confidence to respond to your grace as Joseph and Mary responded. Amen.
Questions for Reflection
- What are some other Biblical stories or Scripture passages that come to mind when thinking about Prevenient Grace? (for example John 3:16)
- How have you seen God’s Prevenient Grace in your own life?
- One of the most challenging sections of this chapter is the killing of the infants. We focus on the celebration that Joseph, Mary and Jesus are warned and are able to slip away to Egypt. But what of the other families and their baby boys….why didn’t God warn them too?
- This week, consider how God is speaking to you in your everyday activities, just like He did with Joseph and Mary.
These questions can be used for individual reflection or small groups. We appreciate the opportunity to share these resources with all of you we’re connected to throughout the world. We pray these resources are a blessing to you and yours.
Praying for You
The community, both local and global, of Bethel Church believes in the power of prayer. Throughout Scripture, Jesus and countless others turn to their life of intentional prayer as a source for understanding God’s redemptive work in their individual lives, as well as all of creation.
Therefore, we believe a representative nature of this ongoing, intentional life of prayer, is to pray for one another.
So how might we be praying for you this week?
Let us know in the form below. We look forward to being a vessel of God’s grace to you as we lift you up in prayer.