Walking with Jesus… in Egypt

We begin 2024 continuing in our weekly walk through Knowing Him / 50 Day Study in the Life of Christ (Day 3).

“That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.””

Matthew 2:14-15 NLT

‭‭““Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother.”

Matthew 2:20-21 NLT

‭‭It’s fascinating to think of these years during Jesus’ life. So many questions…

How old was Jesus when His family fled to Egypt? There’s speculation that He was not yet two since Herod had all the boys in Bethlehem killed who were two and under. Perhaps Jesus was only one at this time?

How old was Jesus when His family left Egypt and returned to Israel? This happened after the death of Herod the Great, which occurred in 4 BC. If Jesus was born a few years earlier, say 6 BC, then evidently Herod didn’t live long after killing all the boys in Bethlehem, maybe a year or two at most. Did the angel appear to Joseph, telling him of Herod’s death, immediately after it happened, or did the angel appear weeks, months or even years later? The journey back from Egypt would have taken a few months at least. So was Jesus only two or three when His family returned to Israel? Did they only live in Egypt 6-18 months? They returned while Herod’s son Archelaus was on the throne, and his reign ended in 6 AD. 

Where did the family live in Egypt? Did they just cross over into Egypt, find the first small, obscure village, and settle there, flying under the radar? Did they go to a large city like Alexandria and try to blend in? It would have been easier for Joseph to find work in a city.

Jesus was well educated, even though He likely stopped His formal schooling around the age of twelve. He likely spoke Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. He was literate, able to read from the scrolls in the temple. Did Jesus end up staying in Egypt longer than 2 years, moving back to Israel around the age of five or six, so that He received an early education in Egypt? It doesn’t seem like the small, rural town of Nazareth would be a place to receive a top notch education.

What happened in Egypt that was formative for Jesus? Where did He live? What did He eat? How was He, as a foreigner, treated?

What was Jesus’ early childhood like, both in Egypt and in Nazareth? How old was He when Joseph and Mary began having other children? Four brothers, several sisters. A large family. It seems from the text that while they were in Egypt, and upon their return, they were still a family of just three.

All of these questions might seem like they’re inconsequential, silly, meaningless. But to me, they’re not. They are significant because they make me think about Jesus as a real person. He was real. He’s not just a story from long ago. He was born, had a physical body, lived with His parents, went to school, watched His siblings being born, had to learn…

So when I think about the “what if’s” of Jesus’ years in Egypt, I’m drawn into His life, His person. He becomes more real to me, flesh and blood, not merely ink on paper.

I want to know Him more. When you love someone, you delight in learning everything you can about them.

It’s like when I traveled to Oregon several years ago, and on a free day took the three hour drive from Portland to Roseburg by myself to see where my wife grew up. It was Sunday, so I got up early enough to visit the church that began in her parents’ living room and had now grown to 2000 people. I drove 30 minutes farther to see the Christian School she graduated from. I drove over to the community college she attended before transferring to Oregon State. I drove around the town to find the two houses her family had lived in. And on the way back to Portland, I pulled off the road to have ice cream at Rice Hill, her family’s favorite ice cream stop. I did all this simply because I wanted to walk in my wife’s shoes, see where she grew up, and feel closer to her.

That’s why I go to Israel, like six times over the last several years . Not to make the Bible come to life, but to feel closer to my Savior, to walk where He walked, and to see and experience life through His eyes.

Like the Apostle Paul, this desire burns in my heart and echoes from my lips.

I want to know Jesus!

I want to know Jesus!

I want to know Jesus!

“I want to know Christ!”

Philippians 3:10a NLT

‬“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:8a‬ ‭NLT‬‬