Message Monday 12/22/14 – Signs: Nazarene

Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor

The end of Matthew’s Christmas Story seems rather anti-climactic.  “…and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’”  (Matthew 2:23)  The only problem here is that neither the town of Nazareth nor the term Nazarene can be found anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament. So what was Matthew up to here?  Well, notice that he writes, “prophets” –plural, as if the idea of the Messiah being a Nazarene was a common theme in the prophetic writings.  One thing we’ve discovered is that the term Nazarene was synonymous with “despised” in Jesus day, which explains Nathanael’s comment about Nazareth in John 1:46.  

It appears that what Matthew was saying at the end of his version of the Christmas Story is this: Jesus, the Messiah, was willing to be identified with the despised and the outcast. This is certainly the image Isaiah paints of the coming Messiah:

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”   (Isaiah 53:3)

Matthew can certainly relate. He too was once an outcast. His occupation was synonymous with “sinner” among his people.  Remember, he was Levi, the despised tax collector.  Perhaps the ending to his Christmas Story is also its climax.  Perhaps he wants his readers to understand what they are signing up for if they decide to follow this Jesus of Nazareth.  What about you?  Are you really willing to be called a Nazarene, to be identified with the despised and the outcast?  Are you willing to possibly even be destined to the same fate as the one of whom the prophets said, “He will be called a Nazarene”?

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