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Published: 1 year ago- 26 February 2023
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Big Idea: We have great assurance that God’s promised salvation will come through the Lord Jesus.

Been an emotionally tiring couple of weeks for Jo and me. A fortnight ago we had negotiated a price for the sale of our Ballina house, agreed and a 10% deposit was paid into a trust account. Nearly there, all we need is a signature from the other party – how hard could that be?

Instead of a signature, we have received requests for more info, more certificates, and more inspections.

There is a very real sense of being so close, but still so far away! The matter does not seem settled, is not settled and feels more unsettling as I think of all the things that could go wrong and put us back where we started, but with less energy.

Is there any greater assurance when it comes to our heavenly home? Eternal Life.


As we take a look at the closing section of Matthew’s Christmas account I want you to see where assurance of salvation lies.

I want you to know 100% why you can be confident that you have salvation now, leading to eternal life. No ifs, buts or maybes.

This confidence separates the Christian faith from every other belief system in the world, assurance of what happens after death.

We’ll find the basis of assurance in our passage. Let’s take a look.

Our Assurance rests in the fact that …


Our story resumes after the wisemen’s visit.

Read v13

Now when they had departed [the wisemen leave], [but another visitor arrives] behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

In the previous section, we read that the wisemen were warned in a dream to go home another way: bypass Jerusalem, don’t talk to Herod.

Herod doesn’t know that he has been bypassed, but he will find out and be angry.

But God has everything under control. That’s what we will see unfold in all of this passage. God is not caught by surprise by human sinfulness.

He knows how Herod will respond once he realises the wisemen aren’t calling in.

But God also knows that we are all sinners, that we are selfish, rebellious and proud and reject His Kingship.

Because God is not caught off guard by human sinfulness … V13 he sends an angel with instructions.

I wonder how this little family felt? It’s been a big year. The news of an unexpected and potentially scandalous pregnancy. A crowded trip to Bethlehem where the baby was born in a shed. Finally, finding a place and getting settled, figuring out how to raise the Son of God. When an unexpected visit by generous foreigners who’ve come to worship the child. And now, another dream with more confronting news, someone is trying to kill him.

One of the recurring attributes of Joseph through these opening chapters of Matthew has been his quiet obedience. And that continues in the passage …

V14 He arose, straight away, that night and took his little family to Egypt, and stayed until Herod’s death.

We will see that this is all part of God’s very big rescue plan. But I want you to notice how God works out his plans through the faithful obedience of his people.

I’m certain that the last thing Joseph felt like was an impromptu 120km midnight journey with a toddler and a tired wife. Haven’t I done enough Lord? Haven’t I been through enough?

Do you think this sometimes? Retired or maybe just tired. Feels like you have been doing a lot of ministry work. Just need a break.

I’m thankful to Joseph for his obedience and his part in God’s rescue plan. I wonder who will be thankful for continued godly obedience in our lives?

Well, Egypt was a good choice for a few reasons. Not too far away, Out of Herod’s political reach. A place where many other Jewish families were living at that time.

But God’s real purpose for this exotic destination is based on his eternal plan of salvation for his people. We read that in v15.

v15 … This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matthew claims this is all part of God’s salvation plan, one that he signalled many years before.

But the prophecy doesn’t seem to fit the story. Joseph is escaping to Egypt The prophecy talks of coming from Egypt.

“Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Here Matthew is looking back through the eyes of the prophet Hosea (11:1) to the Exodus under Moses – the defining back-story of the nation of Israel.

Just as Israel went down to Egypt and then came out to the promise-land so the Son of God will make that same journey. Jesus will identify fully with his people. Jesus will be seen to be the true Israel.

What we will see as we continue through Matthew 1-4 is that while the people were unfaithful to their God (the message of Hosea) Jesus will be completely faithful.

Our Assurance is that God is not surprised, not caught off guard by human sinfulness.

He has sent his son who will identify with us and stand in for us to bring salvation.

Our Assurance rests in the fact that …


Well, Herod does find out that he has been deceived and in response displays a vivid example of the depths of human depravity.

Read v16

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

These are the scenes from Matthew’s Christmas account that very rightly don’t appear on Christmas cards.

I can’t even really imagine how terrible that would have been.

Boys 2 years old and under. Quick search in MPC Elvanto: Henry, William, Joseph, Tommy, George, Hugo, James, Ruben and William.

How unbelievably horrible is that? We don’t even want to think about it.

We are rightly sickened by this crass abuse of position where the weak and vulnerable of society are slaughtered for the self-interest of the more powerful.

While this account prompts many to express disgust with God and to question his love or power, even existence if he were to allow such a thing to happen. It reveals more about the depths of human brokenness and the brokenness of the world we live.

It doesn’t take too much reflection to see that our very modern, civilised and woke society is not too far removed from Herod’s self-centred mindset in the way we treat and dispose of the vulnerable.

Our world is broken and gives rise to so much tragedy.

Even as we listened to the pastoral prayers today, sickness and disease and the uncertainty that surrounds it. There are others not on that list who are facing confronting and concerning challenges. Maybe you are one of them. Where is our assurance?

In all this brokenness and uncertainty and saddness where is hope?

Our world is broken and gives rise to so much tragedy.

That sounds like the point of Matthew’s quote from Jeremiah the weeping prophet v17-18.

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

While it sounds like a very sad and depressing quote from a sad and depressed prophet this message is actually looking forward to a time of joy.

In its context, these words refer to a time of rejoicing, where the devastation of exile will give way to the joy of restoration. Bethlehem weeps now. But days of joy will soon be upon them. This will be the work of the one-born King of the Jews. He will bring an end to the exile – your distance from God, only he will deliver restoration between God and his people. The restoration will result in joy and gladness.

Been a number of engagements in our church over the past year. Plenty of trips to the jewellery store. Diamonds on a black velvet cloth. The blackness showcases their beauty and light.

The dark and depressing brokenness of the world provides the backdrop to the glorious truth of God’s salvation plan.

Our assurance is that the brokenness of this world cannot hinder God’s plans but helps to reflect its beauty and light.

Our assurance is that we can lament to God in response to our world, but that our lament is expressed in the light of hope – the coming age.

Our Assurance rests in the fact that …


At the beginning of the chapter, we read that the Magi stopped at the Palace in the capital city to look for the king. Natural enough assumption. But the nature of Jesus’ rule is very different. Not born and raised in a palace, but born in a shed, and raised in Nazareth. Read v19-23.

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Now to some of us, the region of Galilee and the town of Nazareth mean very little. To others, we know them from the story of Jesus. For Matthew’s original readers, they are the least desirable locations on the Real estate market. The real estate agent was telling us when we were looking at buying our house that Mitchelton was a blue-chip suburb. Highly sought after and a great investment ( I think it’s because of MPC) Even now we get letters in our letterbox telling us how much other houses have been sold for in Mitchelton.

Real estate in Nazareth would be in real estate agent language, “affordable” and in the eyes of your average buyer, undesirable.

Today in Australia we would say ‘Bogan’. In NZ they say “Tihore” In Jerusalem they say Nazarene. That’s what v23 is talking about. There is no OT prophecy that the Messiah would live in Nazareth or be called a Nazarene. In fact, this town was completely unknown for most of Bible history. So, is Matthew lying? Confused? No. What Matthew is communicating is that throughout the OT the prophets foretold that the Messiah would be despised. (Isa 53) As we read through Matthew, we see that Jesus, God come to earth as man, the one born king of the Jews becomes increasingly despised by the very ones he came to save.

All through the gospel the temperature rises … Until one Friday morning on the outskirts of Jerusalem he is nailed to a cross.

That won’t happen until chapter 27. The promised salvation will come through the death of the Son of God, the despised and rejected, crucified Jesus. And what Matthew is teaching us is that through the authority of Jesus as God the Son the life and restoration he promises is achieved on behalf of his people through his death on that cross. To come back to Isaiah the prophet (750 years beforehand) speaking of the despised Messiah, Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed.

Through his death the debt of our rebellion, mistrust, disobedience and self-centredness toward God is cleared, forever. Our brokenness is healed. Through his resurrection from the dead our eternal life has been secured.

Well last Friday at 4:45 pm NSW time, the contract of sale for 10 Madden Place Ballina was signed. A cautiously happy weekend. Lord willing in 26 days it will all be settled. My solicitor tells me that it’s done – but I am keeping that final sigh of relief for March 24, when the money is in the bank.

But when it comes to our salvation we can sigh a sigh of relief and joy now. It is done. It is finished.

The world rejected the Son of God. But it was through this act of defiance that salvation has been won. All the paperwork is done. The contract has been signed. Eternal Life is yours through faith in Jesus.

Faith, not feelings. Saved by faith, not works and faith not feelings. God’s Word reveals God’s plan and God’s decree. It is finished.