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January 17, 2012

The Disturbing Wonder of Epiphany in Matthew 2

by quaesitor
Cogniet - Closeup  massacre des innocents

We actually took Epiphany quite seriously at All Souls this year – by which I mean we spent the first 2 Sunday mornings in January looking at Matthew 2. It’s actually quite an unsettling chapter for all kinds of reasons. Quite apart from many of the historical challenges raised by some (though which I think are more than adequately engaged with in commentaries by the likes of Carson, France and Morris), there are some frankly bizarre or horrific elements to the narrative.

So the two talks gave me quite a New Year headache in preparation – especially because they confront us with the majestic, inspiring, but also double-edged unfathomable nature of God’s sovereignty. The talks are available free from the All Souls Sermon Library, but here are the talk outlines for the Joseph narrative (1:18-2:23) that follows the great Genealogy of Christ (1:1-17).

EPIPHANY: IN DANGER FROM THE START

LONG LIVE THE KING! (Matthew 2:1-12)

1: It Takes God’s King To Bring Astrologers To Worship

    • A Star (v2)
    • A Prophecy (v6)
    • A Dream (v12)
→ To worship the King (v2, v8, v11)
2: It Takes God’s King To Expose Prejudices God’s People

DEATH TO THE KING (Matthew 2:13-18)

1: Divine Providence: God’s Plan To Protect Israel’s Refugee King (2:13-15)
2: Divine Mystery: Herod’s Plan To Kill Israel’s Rightful King (2:16-18)
  • The Responsibility: Herod’s Rages
  • The Resonance: Pharaoh’s Rule
  • The Revelation: Rachel’s Redress

Here is the table I showed in the second talk, with a few other details added, to summarise all the key elements of Matthew’s Joseph Narrative. Click for full size…

Finally, some wanted to know more about the clip shown during the first talk. It was the last few minutes of Episode 4 of Tony Jordan’s wonderful BBC adaptation of The Nativity from Christmas 2010.

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