Jesus of Nazareth, the Nazarene, is our focal point today. Though the Old Testament does not mention the village of Nazareth, Matthew declares that Jesus dwelt in Nazareth “that the words of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Jesus referred to Himself as ‘of Nazareth, demons used the title and the cross of our Lord bore the reference. That Jesus was of Nazareth—was a Nazarene—has tremendous significance for us.
Nazareth was a small village in Galilee near the border of Samaria. Passing by the village was a well-traveled trade route that would have brought the ‘world’ into view for residents. In the eyes of those passer-bys, Nazareth was a community of backward, uncultured people. Devout Jewish people looked down upon this village almost as much as they despised Samaritans. In the eyes of the religious, Nazareth was a community of pagans. Very few saw the truth of Nazareth from God’s view. Even the people of Nazareth failed to recognize Truth—for they would reject the One who came from them. The disciple Nathanel conveyed the sentiments of the day toward Nazareth with his question, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Indeed, we know great good came from this despised village! As the Crusaders of the 12th century inscribed on a church erected in Nazareth, “Here the Word was made flesh.” For centuries, the prophets proclaimed the coming Messiah. Some prophesies revealed His Kingly nature—some His Suffering Servant role. Our human tendency is to hear and see that which promises pleasure: preferring power to persecution is human self-preservation. It is comfortable for us to be blind to Truth when it does not fit our plans and pre-conceived ideas. Our Jesus, the Nazarene, calls us to seek the Father’s perspective and His acceptance above all else. Jesus of Nazareth reminds us that God’s ways our not our ways.
Just as man erroneously judged the village of Nazareth, so, too, man mis-judges Jesus. As Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah, Jesus was ‘despised and rejected of men’. The plans of man have no room for suffering. Yet, God chose Nazareth as the hometown of the Savior because rejection of the world is the path to acceptance of God. Embracing the Nazarene, the One the world rejects, is the only way of acceptance for each one of us. Only in Him–the Beloved–can God accept us. This world, though created, loved and redeemed by Him, received Him not. The world prefers the darkness of its own plans above the Truth and Light of the Father’s plans. Love of the world cuts us off from the love of the Father. May our hearts rejoice that Jesus, our Savior, accepted the path of rejection that acceptance would be ours.
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