Why did Jesus come into the world? It’s a question we can keep coming back to because it has such a rich and varied answer. In fact, there’s not just one reason why Jesus came into the world. There are many.
For example, He came to glorify His Father (John 17:1-4). He came to save sinners (Matthew 1:21). He came to defeat the works of the devil (Hebrews 2:14). He came to make a holy people (Titus 2:11-12). He came to teach us humility (Philippians 2:5-8). And on and on the list goes.
One of the reasons we often miss when we think about why Jesus came into the world is that He came to fulfil the promises, patterns, and prophecies of the Old Testament. Paul says that “all the promises of God find their Yes in Him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). It’s often said that the Old Testament is the shadow and Jesus is the substance. In other words, Jesus helps us see clearly what we can only see dimly in the Old Testament. The entire Old Testament points to Jesus.
One place we see this is in Matthew’s birth narrative of Jesus. In Matthew 2:13-15, the Lord sends an angel to tell Joseph to take “the child and His mother” to Egypt because Herod is coming after the child to destroy him. Joseph obeyed and took his young family to Egypt. The Egyptian border was only 90 miles from Bethlehem and there were lots of Jews who lived in Egypt at this time, so it was a natural place for the angel to tell the family to go. They would be out of Herod’s jurisdiction and safe from his murderous rage.
But Matthew tells us that it was more than good planning that led the family to Egypt. Verse 15 says, “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” Matthew says that the Lord planned this escape route and hinted at it in the Old Testament hundreds of years before it happened.
Just as Israel was led by God out of Egypt, so also was Jesus
The verse the Gospel writer quotes is from Hosea 11 and originally referred to the nation of Israel’s exodus from Egypt at the time of Moses. “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1). God calls Israel His son and He shows His love for him by rescuing him from slavery in Egypt.
Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, takes this text from Hosea and applies it to Jesus. He sees the history of Israel being repeated in Jesus’ life. Just as Israel went into Egypt as a young nation, so Jesus went to Egypt as a child. And just as Israel was led by God out of Egypt, so also was Jesus.
Matthew is saying that Jesus came to lead a new exodus, to lead His people out of slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Jesus came to absorb God’s judgment toward sinners by dying on the cross. He came to lead a new Israel, a new people of God, into a land of promise, to restore them to their God and to one another.
Matthew’s application of Hosea 11:1 to a seemingly obscure event in Jesus’ life tells us that the authors of the New Testament saw Jesus as the new Israel. He is the new locus, or centre, of God’s saving and redeeming activity in the world. He is the new nation that God chose out of love to bless the whole world.
As we reflect on Jesus’ entrance into the world, may we grow in our understanding of the richness and fullness and depth of meaning that His coming has for us. Jesus did not come to just give us a nice holiday called Christmas. He came to lead a new people of God out of slavery and into a land of promise.
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