December 20, 2017
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”
Joseph chose Nazareth to return to after Herod had died. The man who so feared this child King that he sent soldiers to the tiny village of Bethlehem to kill all the male children under two years of age could no longer hold on to the crown he had murdered children to keep. God had called him to eternity. Yet, around two dozen children had paid for Herod’s greed and paranoia with their lives. In a way, they were a smoke screen for Mary, Joseph and Jesus as the family followed the angel’s orders to take the child and flee. They were only a few hours ahead of the soldiers swords.
Nazareth may have been chosen for its’ insignificance. It was the least of the towns in the region that was the least in all Israel. While Jesus’ parents had seen many things that would confirm to their hearts that Jesus was the Messiah, as Mary had been promised by Gabriel. Those of us who are parents can easily understand Joseph’s apparent caution. Joseph may also have been protecting Mary, since Jesus was perceived as having been conceived by Mary and Joseph outside of their marriage.
John 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. (KJV)
The name Nazareth does not appear in the Old Testament, but we are told that more than one prophet had spoke of the Messiah as a Nazarene. What they do speak of is the Messiah being despised and rejected. Nathanael asks the question saying what good could possibly come from that wretched place? The town was synonymous with everything low and worthless. And yet it was behind this smoke screen that Mary and Joseph raised their sons and daughters.
Nathanael asks a question any of us might have asked. In fact, Nathanael’s thinking was right along the lines of most of Israel at that time. The Messiah would come as a King in power to throw off the Roman oppression. To think that the Lord would bring His promise through such humble means was not in the mainstream of thought. The idea was summarily rejected by most as foolish – including the Sanhedrin.
How often are we this intolerant? Too often, especially where we are sure of ourselves and we have strength in numbers. But God often uses the simple things to confound us when we would consider ourselves wise. For years the mainstream of thought was that the promises God made to Israel had fallen to the church since there was no Israel and it did not appear that would ever be one again. And yet today, Israel is back in the land.
Is your Nazareth that five year old niece who just peppers you with questions that are just so constant and so disconnected that you hide a little when she is around? Wait for the day she brings you wild flowers and breaks your heart with joy. Is your Nazareth the family next door who constantly fight? Imagine one of them saying in frustration how much they wish their family could be as happy and loving as yours. The door is open to show them the source of your peace and joy in Jesus Christ. Imagine the joy of seeing their lives transformed by the power of God in their lives.
Don’t dismiss your Nazareth.
Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (KJV)
Lord Jesus – help us to honestly look into our hearts and see the things we have given up on as worthless and useless – beyond hope. Give us open hearts and minds to be able to see Your hand moving in places where the world is not looking. Amen.
Grace & Peace,