Matthew 2:13-23: “Spoken By The Prophet”
Read: Matthew 2:13-23
Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecies is a recurring theme in Matthew. Here in the latter part of chapter 2, Matthew shows how Jesus’ flight to Egypt as a baby fulfills at least three distinct prophecies (probably more) from the Old Testament.
- v15: The first prophecy comes from Hosea 11:1, a prophecy about how God called Israel out of Egypt to be his people. Matthew likens this to Jesus, who sojourned in Egypt for a while and was called out. Jesus in a symbolic fashion spent time in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). In all this, Jesus remained obedient and faithful to God so that he might fulfill the requirements of the Law, unlike Israel.
- v18: The second prophecy comes from Jeremiah 31:15. The entire chapter of Jeremiah 31 is a series of prophecies concerning the future blessings that would be given to Israel. Matthew invokes Jeremiah to show how mothers grieving over their children slaughtered by Herod points to a prophecy concerning the children “coming back”, speaking to a future time that even though they have lost them in the moment, they are certainly redeemed by God and Jesus’ coming makes this possible.
- v23: The third prophecy is really more a generalized statement from many prophets, which is plural in the text. The root word for “Nazarene” in the Hebrew means “root” or “branch”. Many believe that Matthew may have originally been written in Aramaic, but nevertheless Matthew was undoubtedly familiar with this word. Without a specific reference, it is impossible to know what prophecies Matthew had in mind, but Isaiah 11:1-16, specifically verses 1 and 10, Zechariah 6:12, Jeremiah 23:5, and Jeremiah 33:15 area few possibilities. These all speak of a future king in David’s line – a very familiar theme in Matthew.
The number of prophecies that Jesus fulfills is amazing. While it is difficult to quantify this probabilities, most all estimates put the probability of Jesus fulfilling just a few prophecies as odds that are so astronomical that the numbers become a statistical impossibility that he fulfills dozens if not hundreds of prophecies. In other words, it is no mere coincidence. The fulfillment of prophecies themselves are intermingled with historical events too. Matthew is not merely showing that Jesus fulfills prophecies, but that the fulfillments are anchored in real world events, not some vague references to motifs from the Old Testament. Given this, the fulfillment of prophecy vindicates Jesus’ message and mission as being true and from God! The message of Christ is not pie in the sky, rather it is realm message grounded in history that simply cannot be written off as legend. Christians can use the power of this testimony to Jesus as tool to point people to the reality of Jesus and the salvation that he brings!
Lord, all of history points to you! Help the world to know this truth!