Jesus and Moses - a Christmas parallel


“So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” Matthew 2:14-15

In Matthew’s version of the Christmas story, we discover that much of Jesus’ early life is reminiscent of the prophet Moses’ early life.  Both Jesus and Moses were born to a family line that was respected and recognized as set-apart by God: Jesus, a descendent of King David, and Moses, born into the house of the Levites.  Jesus was born during the oppressive rule of King Herod and Moses was born during the oppressive rule of Pharaoh.  Both political leaders chose to kill infants and toddlers that would have been the peers to these babes, and in the process, if it weren’t for divine intervention, both of these men would have been killed.

When we read about the early life of Jesus, we learn that his father responded to God-given dreams by moving their family to and then out of Egypt.  One might wonder, why the Bible would record such a seemingly unimportant detail, but then we realize that here again there is a parallel between the life of Moses and Jesus.  We remember that Moses was called by God to lead the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt.

This parallel between the stories and lives of Jesus and Moses continues in the book of Matthew past the birth narrative.  Moses receives the Law from God on a mountain and Jesus re-interprets the Law from the mountainside, in what has become known as the Sermon on the Mount.

Christmas is about more than the birth of a baby, it is also about the birth of a New Testament, a new way for God’s people to interact with and connect with God.  Christmas is about the fulfillment of the promises of the Old Covenant, the birth of the One who would complete the message of Moses and the prophets.  The people were waiting for the fulfillment of these promises and the birth of Jesus Christ testifies to the fact that God remains active in the lives of His people.

Prayer:  Holy and Wise God. This Christmas, help me to grasp the deeper meanings of this holiday.  Amen.

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