• By Rev. Joseph A. Bias

Nazareth - The Return to Nazareth

“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’ ” Matthew 2:23

Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth in Galilee. It was from Nazareth that they went to Bethlehem to be registered for the census. Now, returning from Egypt, they come back to their home in Nazareth and it was there that Jesus was brought up. The return to Nazareth was also a fulfillment of Prophecy concerning Jesus.

“Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’” Matthew 2:19-23

Nazareth is the place where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the Messiah. It is the place where Jesus spent his childhood and early adulthood. Nothing is known of His life from the time His family returned from Passover in Jerusalem when He was about 12 years old until He was about 30. It is to the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath that He comes to declare the beginning of His ministry.

“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:16-21

Jesus is uniquely identified with Nazareth by those who knew Him. Perhaps, there were other Jesus’ throughout the region of Galilee, but this particular Jesus was distinguished by His residency in Nazareth. [see: Matthew 21:11; Mark 1:24; Mark 10:47; Luke 18:37; John 1:45]

The name Nazareth is associated with the words, separated, crowned, sanctified, branch and scattered, each of which bears a relationship to Jesus and His work of ministry on the earth. It is from the synagogue in Nazareth that the gospel is first proclaimed and from there it spread throughout the world.

For our study, Nazareth may be considered a metaphor for the place where we are known from childhood, but not regarded with the same honor as those who were brought up elsewhere. It was for Jesus, the place that first rejected His message of hope and redemption, because they could only see Him as He was when He was a child. Even more, they became so enraged by what He said on that day, that they tried to throw Him off the brow of the hill of the city. But He walked through the midst of them and went on His way unharmed by them.

Sometimes, the most difficult ministry we will have is to our own families because they have formed opinions about us from our childhood and their familiarity with us means there is less inclination to respect us for the anointing on our lives from God. But our response should be to show patience and longsuffering to them with compassion and grace, and not allow strife and debate to quench the power of the Word planted in their hearts by our witness and our words spoken in love with gentleness.

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26

As we enjoy the rest of the Christmas Season and look to the beginning of the New Year let us consider Jesus who endured such contradictions of men.

“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:3

And let love motivate our thoughts, words and actions, because love never fails. The spirit of the Christmas Season is love; God’s Love for us, Jesus’ love working in us and through us to others, the Holy Spirit perfecting love in us. This is the message of life that Jesus came to bring and that more abundantly. Love never fails.

Beloved let us love one another for love is of God, and everyone that loves is born of God, for God is Love.

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