This past Sunday was my fist Sunday at IMC. It was fun and interesting preaching in an open air chapel with the wind blowing. Trying to hold the Bible with the pages blowing is somewhat difficult. Fun though.
Looking at Matthew 2:13-23 I noticed a few things in my study of the passage and other resources. I noticed the last line about Jesus being from Nazareth. This is the most simple and logical explanation of the verse and it lifts up an important fact of the humanness of Christ. He lived in a real place, had a real home town and you can visit his hometown today. This is important because we can't have a dynamic interpersonal relationship with someone who didn't exist. Someone who didn't exist can't die on the cross for our salvation. In the Apostle's Creed we are specific, it is Jesus, "born of the Virgin Mary and suffered under Pontius Pilate". Jesus was and is a real person and therefore we can have a relationship with him. We can follow him as Teacher, Lord and Savior. We can speak to and hear from him, he can guide our lives and shape our hearts. He can be the dynamic living center of our individual and corporate lives. All of this comes from a real person. It is so central that the first Alpha talk is "Who is Jesus", which is a fine talk to get a deeper understanding of Jesus.
Also we see that Jesus is confronted with Sin early in his life. Herod is so power crazed that he would kill countless children rather than lose power some day. At this point in Jesus' life he is not in a place to confront "Sin, Death and the power of the Devil" head on. Yet later in his life this is exactly what he will do through his public ministry which culminates with his suffering, death and resurrection. through the resurrection Christ disarms the power of "Sin, Death and the Devil".
Yes, there is still suffering in the world but it does not have the last word, Christ does. While we wait for him to come again we know that he is present in our suffering. This is one reason it is so important that he is a real person. This real Jesus is present with us in our real pain bringing hope, strength and grace to any and all aspects of our lives.