Learn why Jesus had to grow up in Nazareth.
Jews living at the time of Jesus had certain expectations regarding the coming Messiah. He would be born in Bethlehem, the city of David, Israel’s first great king in the promised line. He would be revealed in Jerusalem, the center of Jewish religious leadership and home for the Temple. These facts were easy to accept, but the place where he would grow up gave them some problems. The insignificant and hard to reach town of Nazareth didn’t compute. Nathaniel spoke for most Jews when he responded to Phillip in John 1:46-“Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
So, why did God plan it that Jesus would grow up in Nazareth? One possible reason was its seclusion. It provided a safe and protected location where Jesus could grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men (see Luke 2:52). The second reason is much more certain. It was to fulfill several Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. In Matthew 2:23 we learn that the prophets foretold that Jesus would be called a Nazarene. Why then, was Nathaniel so surprised when Phillip spoke of Nazareth, and why did so many Jews miss this part of the messianic prophecies?
Part of the explanation lies in the etymology of the word Nazareth. It is derived from the Hebrew word netzer, which means “branch” or “shoot.” The netzer is, in fact, the shoot that grows out of the root of the olive tree, often becoming another trunk of the tree protruding from its base.
AS I SEE IT
When you look at what the prophets actually said regarding the relationship between the Messiah and Nazareth, the picture becomes clearer:
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1)
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I shall raise up for David a righteous branch, and he will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 23:5).
…for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the branch (Zechariah 3:8).
In addition to being born in Bethlehem, and revealed in Jerusalem, the Messiah had to be the netzer (shoot). What better way to fulfill this than growing up in “shoot town”?
Learning things like this makes all the research so rewarding. What treasures God has hidden in His Word for us to uncover-treasures that reveal not only God’s plan but more of Himself. This “story” represents yet another way God has revealed Himself through what He has made (nature). It also reminds us that what the world sees as insignificant (Nazareth) may very well be extremely important to God. This is why we must shed our worldly filter and start seeing things through God’s eyes. He gave us His Word so we could do just that. Let’s make the rest of our lives a treasure hunt. Treasures were meant to be discovered and enjoyed, not kept buried.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.