“Continuity” is a persistent New Testament theme. Nothing really happens in isolation. What happens at one time is anticipated in what went before; what went before foreshadows what is happening; and what is happening offers us a glimpse of what will happen.
In the Gospels, this interpretation of events is made consistently by the Evangelists. When the angel tells Mary that the child she bears is the Messiah, Matthew sees the event as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. “All this took place,” he says, “to fulfill what the Lord had spoken to the prophet.” Then he quotes from the Old Testament book of Isaiah:
Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His Name shall be called Emmanuel (Mt. 1:23).
When Jesus is born, King Herod, “in a furious rage,” massacres all the male children in Bethlehem two-years-old or under. Matthew sees the event as the fulfillment of “what was spoken by the Prophet Jeremiah”:
A voice was heard…
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