Adam has preached recently at our church, and one Sunday he asked us to look at the Christmas story in a new way. He just took us through both Matthew and Luke and put some things into place.
So, Jesus was born in Bethlehem; we all know that. How long did he stay there? Some people have him living in that town for a couple of years.
But, we know he was back in Jerusalem just a week later. He was in the Temple on his 8th day, for his circumcision.
Well, did they then go back to Bethlehem? Yes. The wise men found them there, Scripture says. But the wise men went to Jerusalem first -- the wise men who were following the star -- the star that stayed over the Christ Child. Why did the wise men go to Jerusalem first, before going to Bethlehem? Perhaps they did it because the star was over Jerusalem. Because the babe was there, in the Temple.
And the wise men went on to Bethlehem, again following the star. How long did they stay? Adam says the Greek of these verses indicates immediacy and speed: the wise men were instructed to leave, and then, probably that same night, Joseph is told to leave in haste. Herod would have wasted no time, after the wise men left Jerusalem, in tracking down this new king. He kept a local garrison of 1000 soldiers, overlooking Bethlehem.
So. The little family fled to Egypt, perhaps sooner than some of us had thought. How long did they stay there? A year? Two? No, because Mary was back in the Temple again at 30 days, for her purification, as a good Jewish woman would do. And after that, Scripture says they returned to Nazareth.
These are just thoughts, and possibilities. But when viewed in this light, the indications of danger, panic, warning, and escape are very intense. Adam says Greeks reading these gospels, with their amazing abilities to integrate texts, would see these relationships immediately. So, read back over these passages with new, connecting eyes.