January 26, 2017: He Shall Be Called a Nazarene

Morning: Matthew 2:19-3:6; Noon: Romans 15:7-16:20; Evening: Psalm 18:38-50

It would be an understatement to say that very little was expected at the advent of the Messiah. His arrival would be tantamount to the Day of the Lord when all things come to an end and the books are opened. It seems as if everything was being compared to the Christ before His day would come, whether by genealogy, Psalm, historical event, religious ritual, the nation of Israel herself, great figures of faith, and much, much more!

Jesus’ dwelling in Nazareth was one of those many more things formerly compared to the Christ. Evidently, his readers were familiar with the prophecy and would’ve been expecting it. However, it is somewhat unfamiliar to the modern reader today. Where does the Old Testament say, “He shall be called a Nazarene”? In the words of Leon Morris, “No passage [in the Old Testament] even resembles this.” Perhaps we should start by noting some peculiarities. Matthew invokes a plurality of prophets, “by the prophet(s).” Morris is probably correct in assuming that Matthew is drawing attention to the thrust of Old Testament prophecy rather than a singular passage. What then was the thrust of Messianic prophecy? To help answer that question, it is of interest that Matthew has already spoken of several different travel spots with little description, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Egypt, Ramah, Israel, Judea, and Galilee. But when he comes to this last known dwelling in the region of Galilee he says that Jesus, “dwelt in a city called Nazareth.” The NLT probably provides a more accurate description, calling Nazareth a “town.” It would appear as if his audience would be unfamiliar with such a place. This was in part the thrust of Messianic prophecy, the humble and lowly beginnings of the Christ. Consider Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.

It was Nathanael himself who asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). The Pharisees rejected Jesus on the following grounds saying, “Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee” (John 7:52). It is no wonder that in our walk with Jesus we too will find very little honor among men with the name we wear. The very name that the Master bore was lightly esteemed! Thus, it too is our destiny to wear that most noble name they blaspheme (James 2:7).

And the disciples were first called… Christians.


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