You don’t usually need a TV guide to know what films are on over Christmas. Every year, without fail, there are some classic films that return to our screens. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, or It’s a Wonderful Life.
There are two seasonally shown films that strike a chord with the events recorded in the second chapter of Matthew’s gospel. They are The Great Escape and The Italian Job. The latter is that classic British movie with Michael Caine and Noel Coward, but starring three Mini Coopers. More recently another film with the same name, loosely based on the original, was released.
A remake rarely lives up to the original. That observation, however, does not hold true for Matthew chapter two. In fact we will miss Matthew’s point unless we see that the events surrounding the birth of Jesus are in fact a remake of Old Testament events that surpass the originals.
A lesson in history
The connections between the OT Matthew 1-2 are obvious if we take a bird’s eye view of these chapters. We start off with a lesson in history. Matthew shows us the fulfilment of a promise made to Abraham and the descent of the crown through the line of David (1:1-17). We need to know that Jesus is descended from this particular family, a royal family. Matthew tells us about the birth and infancy of Jesus in five sections. Each section has a passage from the OT that is being fulfilled. The sections are:
|Matthew 1-2||OT passage|
|1:18-25||Isaiah 7:14 |
‘all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet’ (v22)
|2:1-12||Micah 5:2 (2 Sam 5:2) |
‘for this is what the prophet has written’ (v5)
|2:13-15||Hosea 11:1 |
‘and so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet’ (v15)
|2:16-18||Jeremiah 31:15 |
‘then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled’ (v17)
|2:19-23||‘So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene”.’ (v23)|
With this overview in place we can focus in on some of the details.