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Immerse: Messiah, Week 1, Day 2

Christmas in August?!?!?

So, I’m reading through Luke and come across the Christmas story found in Luke 2.  As I’m reading through it, I’m also recalling what I know from the account in Matthew’s gospel, and I notice something that brought a question to my mind.

Here’s where it started: “When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee” (p.8, or Luke 2:39)

I read that verse and the transition it implied, and it made me wonder…. So, how much time passed from the day Jesus was circumcised and the day they went home to Nazareth?  When you read it quickly, it seems as if it were only a few days, but if you put the whole Christmas story together you might recall a significant event occurring somewhere in the timeline that could not possibly fit the concept of only a few days.

What happened to the trip to Egypt? I know it happened, but when I read over this verse, I immediately said, “wait, what?!?!” And a few other things, too!  If you know your Christmas story, you know there is a special visit from some Magi – at a house, not at the manger, Herod plotting against this “new king,” the warning of Joseph by and angel in a dream and THEN the trip to Egypt! Whew!

Some may wonder, how in the world could Luke leave that out?  Good question, but I think it comes down to the audience and the timing.  Theophilus would not have cared much about the flight to Egypt and the political upheaval surrounding Herod and his family, and it is likely that Matthew’s gospel was written before Luke’s accounting and might have known of its contents (just an idea and speculation).

It reminds me of how people can experience the same events in life or even simply hear about them from others, and the final retelling comes out quite different in details, yet essentially the same in truth.  We can take Matthew’s account and Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus and lay them side by side. There are many different aspects included in each account, and they almost seem as if they might be telling two different stories, but when you lay them out together, we begin to see the full picture of the story of the birth of Jesus.

In order to clear this up, I found this cool chronological listing of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. It is from Answers in Genesis. If you’re a nerd like me, or just want to see a clearer picture of Christmas, then check this out - click here.

Until then, Merry Christmas and hope you enjoy your time in Immerse: Messiah during the next two weeks as we read through the Gospel of Luke together!

- Pete Ramsey

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