Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: Pontius Pilate

The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23


The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23 – 02/03/2016

Matthew 2:19 (ESV) 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.

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse nineteen.

V19 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.

God again spoke to Joseph through a dream by way of an angel of the Lord, much in the same way as he was told that Mary had not been unfaithful, also in the same way he was told to flee to Egypt in the first place and we again see Josephs remarkable obedience to what he now trusts to be true.

We don’t see from the text how long he was a refugee in Egypt, however we do see that there was enough time elapsed that Herod was dead at the point of return. We know that Jesus was still classified as a child so he would not be regarded as a young man (around the age of 13) We see in a few verses that Herod had been succeeded by his son and from research on the man, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree on that son.

Interestingly we see the way that the people are listed; the child is always listed before the mother in importance. We see that prophecy is being fulfilled because Jesus was called to be the messiah to the people of Israel first, he cannot do this if he is not back in Israel.

V22 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.

We now see Herod’s son is now in place as king over Judea, much like his father Herod the Great he was a puppet king under the Emperor Augustus, he was regarded as a man much in the same vein as his father, he is noted mainly by the Jewish historian Josephus.

Most of his battles internally were with the Jewish leaders of the day, he was the king who placed a golden eagle over the temple door with the Jewish leaders saw as blasphemous and was known for killing rivals and those who opposed his decrees. Here is a quote from Wikipedia on this matter”…

“Herod defended his works and offered an attack on his predecessors, the dynastic Hasmoneans. Herod killed all male lineal successors of the Hasmoneans. The Pharisees had long attacked the Hasmoneans as well, as having parentage from Greeks while under bondage. This racial slur was repeated by the Pharisees through the rule of Alexander Jannaeus and Queen Salome.”

He ruled for less than a decade and made enemies on all sides, he was replaced in 6AD with a Roman appointed governor. (You may remember that was the title of Pontius Pilate) and this is enough to tell you that the man’s reputation alone was enough to make Joseph rightly anxious about going there. Joseph decided to go back to the place where it all began for Mary and him. This made sense in a cultural basis going back to where they would have a support network.

V23 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.

Interestingly enough they went into another province run by a King Herod, but this was the brother called Antipas who was regarded as a ruler with a much milder mannerisms. He went to an area that was not as densely populated with Jewish religious people, Galilee was the area that had a more broad spectrum of Jewish and Gentile mix, it was a fishing area and in this area which was not as highly regarded as the great city of Jerusalem it would be where the messiah of the world would grow up.

This touches me on so many levels, how many times have we seen God not using the things that we regard as remarkable and the things that we think God will regard because they are beautiful to man’s eyes, God sees them as nothing. It is true in my life also. I am an unremarkable man, however God has allowed me to be part of some really cool things in his name, I never think that it is me by any means. I consider myself to be a type of Nazareth, not much to look at but desiring to be used by God.

Joseph chose to go to the place with the bad reputation. When Philip is introduced to the messiah and finds out he hailed from Nazareth – He questioned and asked “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) He also chose to go to the place that knew the strange circumstances regarding Mary’s conception and how Joseph was not the earthly father of Jesus. Talk about starting the child off with a disadvantage.

It was very much the will of the Father that the child would fulfil prophecy, and when he was alive he was not known as “Jesus Christ” but simply “Jesus of Nazareth” and because of this his followers were sometimes called Nazarenes (see Acts 24:5)

Acts 24:5 (ESV) For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

Jesus would be in small town life, if Joseph was gone then Jesus would be expected to fill in as man of the house, be faithful in his trade (his father’s trade) and be diligent in the small things prior to embarking on his ministry journey. This is a great lesson to us as we figure out what God’s plan or calling is on our lives. The encouragement is to be diligent, be faithful in the small things and be prepared for when God is going to open that door to whatever ministry he has planned for you.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.

TTE Advent Calendar Day Nineteen – December 19th


TTE Advent Calendar Day Nineteen – December 19th

Thank you for reading our nineteenth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at the prophecy that the messiah would have his clothing gambled for. We read this is the book of Psalm chapter 22 which was written by King David …

Psalm 22:18 (ESV) they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

We carry on from where we left it yesterday in Psalm 22. David spoke about he could see his bones and now he laments that his garments were divided amongst his adversaries. Although he was speaking about things that would happen in his life, he was also referring to the coming messiah.

Imagine being the King of Israel and ending up so bereft of power that you could not even stop the ones who are against you taking your possessions for themselves and dividing the spoils as if it were they owned it themselves… But there is more…

Imagine the one who was there at creation with the Father, humbled himself to come to earth to be the sacrifice for all. Nailed to a cross in the cruelest way devised to inflict as much pain and torture to an enemy of the state as possible. The Romans were not known for their hospitality to criminals.

While he is hanging up there in excruciating pain he looks down and sees the following… (Verse 34)

Luke 23:32 (ESV) Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Jesus while going through pain that we can’t possibly imagine had the compassion on those who hated him enough to death to say (and mean it) “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That to me is mind blowing. He is looking down at the foot of the cross and he sees that the people below are gambling to get his clothes. We also read in the next two pieces of scripture (Matthew 27 & John 19) another two accounts of the literal fulfillment of this scripture.

Matthew 27:32 (ESV) As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

The messiah was stripped down to an almost naked state; the Romans spared nothing in humiliating those who they wished to punish. In Jesus case they had mocked him by dressing him in a scarlet robe, thrust a crown of thorns through his head, gave a thirsty dying man vinegar wine to drink and gave him a reed as a scepter. They were mocking both Jesus and the Jews at the same time. Even the notice above his head was written in mockery. The Jews asked Pilate to change what he wrote and he said “What I have written I have written”. Funnily it is the only time we see Pilate going against the Jewish religious leaders.

The soldiers desired Jesus clothes, they wished that they not be ripped, and we read this in John chapter nineteen…

John 19:23 (ESV) When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Can you imagine being in that unnatural position, one that is designed to cause the maximum pain, discomfort and suffering, being stripped down to the bare minimum, in front of the woman who had given birth to you and anyone who wanted to witness this crucifixion and public humiliation. Jesus suffered that last humiliation but was always in control; John chapter ten tells us that;

John 10:14 (ESV) I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus was in control of the situation, he was as much God as he was man and he surrendered to the baying hordes in order to fulfil prophecy, in order to be the substitute for our sins. He took the punishment that we deserved in order that we may be reconciled with the father and have an opportunity to spend eternity with our creator.

Jesus went through all this so we can go to heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.

TTE Advent Calendar Day Two – December 2nd


TTE Advent Calendar Day Two – December 2nd

Thank you for reading our second installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Micah 5:2 (ESV) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Thank you for reading day two of the TTE advent calendar, today we look at a verse which was often quoted in the time of Jesus being on this earth.

Where was the messiah to be born?

In yesterday’s article we looked at how the messiah was to be born of a woman, really, the skeptic among you may say “well that could apply to anyone” and that would be true. However passages in the bible really narrow it down to who is the messiah. They also point to the trustworthiness of the bible.

This passage was quoted in Matthew 2 when Herod asked where the Messiah was due to be born, we read…

Matthew 2:1 (ESV) 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Herod didn’t get the point of the messiah, he assumed that in the volatile political climate that he lived in that this Messiah would take away his limited power that he had. He already had to concede power to Rome and was essentially a puppet of Rome but he did not wish his power to be diluted any further by this religious messiah.

We can learn from this, we get so involved in our lives and our problems that we fail to observe or notice the messiah. We resolve to fix our issues ourselves instead of allowing the one who takes our burdens to bear them for us.

Why Bethlehem?

We are told Bethlehem, in the land of Judea was to be the place, what an honour for the place that was also the birthplace of David, the mighty King of Israel and a man after God’s own heart.

Historically this was a period that the nation of Israel were not proud about, they were ruled by a foreign Roman power, they were ruled by an unjust king in an uneasy political balance where Jerusalem was a melting pot between Roman, Herodian and religious authority.

So in these humble times, how fitting that God used a humble city, one that was not even regarded as much within it’s own borders to prophesy and deliver a messiah from. I see this in my life, that when I have been in the most humble of places, that is when God has used me and delivered abundance through me.

Ruler in Israel

This is where Herod got scared, he seen his power going away. Historically I find this laughable that he thought this way as the Messiah was known to be God. He could have taken out Herod with one word, however as we learn from the later part of Matthew 2, Herod was not going to last forever and he passed away while Jesus was in Egypt.

Jesus kingdom was not temporary, Jesus confirms this in his trial in the dialogue with Pontius Pilate, we read in the Gospel of John…

John 18:36 (ESV) Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

What amazing humility to submit to those he had created. This truly blows my mind on so many levels. Jesus will rule, but when he comes back at the end of the world. The religious leaders thought they had snuffed out the problem when they coerced the Romans to crucify him. They did not want to face that he was God, but as Jesus proved at Calvary – YOU CAN’T KILL GOD!

Coming forth of old, from the ancient of days

This part shows that he was not just a man, limited by a finite span on earth. He was there of old, he was there at the beginning, he was there at the end, and he was and is and is to come. This gives further credence to the fact that Jesus was there at the beginning of creation.

This tells us that although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the story did not start there. He is the ALPHA and OMEGA, the beginning and the end. (We read this is Revelation 22.) Being a third of the trinity he is as timeless as God.

The Gospel of John in chapter 1 (Quoted fron Genesis 1) .tells us when Jesus began…

John 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Who was Jesus?

He was all of this and more, he was God, he had humanity, he had humility, he was perfect, he was sympathetic to man, he was love, we was sacrificial, he was glorious, he was the fulfillment of prophesy, he was the creator and he was and is and is to come the only way to heaven. He was all this and much, much more. He is my Savior and is the LORD.

My hope is that this look at a messianic passage was a help to you and my hope is that this blessed you and hopefully stirred some questions about Jesus being your messiah.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.