Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son." (Matthew 2:13-15)So often in our lives the greatest, most joyous moments are followed by unexpected dangers or tragedies. The storm clouds roll over the blissful sunshine and we remember that the world is still fallen and in need of the Saviour.
Mary and Joseph also experienced this sudden change from joy to danger. Not too long ago, the Magi had presented gifts of tremendous value to Jesus. They had fallen down and worshiped Him. But the gleam and glimmer of that moment— the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh— did not consume Mary and Joseph's thoughts for long.
When an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph one night in a dream, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt," Joseph must have quickly forgotten about the gifts from the wise men.
This was not the first time an angel of the Lord had visited Joesph. Just a few years ago, an angel had visited him in his dreams, commanding him to take Mary as his wife and name the child that she was pregnant with "Jesus".
Joseph had obeyed the angel the first time— and he must have been glad that he had. Over the past few years, he had seen God work in ways that few others had. The shepherds that appeared to them on that night when Jesus was born were especially interesting, so too was the news of the multitude of angels that had appeared to the shepherds, proclaiming, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:14). Not only that, but there was also Simeon and Ana, who had spoken the most marvelous of things over their Child (Luke 2:25-28). And now, about two years later, wise men had visited!
If Joseph had questioned whether to obey the angel of the Lord before Jesus' birth— and it doesn't seem that he did— then how much more quickly must he have obeyed the angel after Jesus' birth? Joseph now had a better idea of who his "son" was. And so, Joseph obeyed the angel, probably without hesitation.
While darkness still engulfed Bethlehem, probably immediately after the dream concluded, Joseph arose. He, Mary, and Jesus needed to leave now. They needed to leave before Herod's sword came upon them. Joseph must have packed his family's belongings quickly, waking Mary in the process to explain their urgent need to leave.
See now the toddler Christ, departing Bethlehem with His earthly parents. Just as there was no room for Him in the inn, so too there was now no longer room for Him in Bethlehem.
The first years of Christ's life were spent traveling the countryside. Though He found some stability in Nazareth, the end of His life was characterized by the same sort of travel. Recall those striking words that Jesus spoke later in His life, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20).