Read This Week: Matthew 2
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.” So he got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. – Matthew 2:19-20 & 23 NIV
The great poet, T.S. Eliot, once wrote, “We shall not cease from exploring but at the end of our exploration, we will return to where we started and know the place for the first time.” Eliot was describing the beautiful contradiction that exists within the human soul. We are, by nature, explorers and curious beings with an appetite for the unknown and a craving to experience what is unfamiliar.
All the while, this unbridled spirit hides within itself a silent affection for the place it knows well and a feeling to be in its surroundings. The heart of the voyager is alive when it has the freedom to investigate, even though it betrays itself with the longing for home. Here is the intersection of our desire to both search and survive. Here, it can feel like one has been gone forever from the place they are supposed to be. Toiling in exile like one pining to return to a place they have never been.
This was the situation for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in Matthew 2. They were in Bethlehem for the birth of Christ as the prophecy foretold and visited by the Magi, who King Herod was trying to use to locate Jesus so he could kill him. After this, an angel of the Lord told them to go to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. Then after some time, they were instructed to return to Israel, but they had to go to Galilee and Nazareth to avoid Archelaus (the son of Herod), who was now in power. Verses 21 and 23 tell us:
So he got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were people without a place to belong. They were sojourners trying to return to their home armed with nothing but faith and obedience in the word of the Lord. God was guiding them away from trouble, through uncertainty, and amid all the things that would threaten them as they fulfilled His purposes. God was helping them navigate their return home. Verses 19-20 says:
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.”
Our lives and journeys are no different. Our paths are littered with paradox yet with a singular purpose to restore what is strange to its rightful place of intimacy. It is a never-ending story of discovery and longing for where we started. That’s why we need faith in the guidance and precise direction from The One, not limited by the human condition. The One who transcends anything that may influence or manipulate us. The One with the ability to help us navigate life. He knows best and we must trust Him to return home.