… and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. Matthew 2:23
This is a prophecy that isn’t a prophecy. References to Jesus being from Nazareth are replete in the New Testament. Yet references to the Messiah being from Nazareth, or a Nazarene, are nowhere to be found in the Old. My Concordia also makes reference to the Hebrew word “neser,” meaning “branch.” When Jesus is referred to as the “branch” from Jesse (harkening to Isaiah 11), it confirms He is from the lineage of King David. In that way, it is a fulfilled prophecy, albeit indirectly, about Jesus and where He came from.
My wife and I, we like watching “Hometown:” the HGTV show with Ben and Erin Napier, who are gradually restoring old houses in her hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. We’ve been to Laurel, visiting the Napier’s’ stores; we even took our dog, Bonnie, when she was still a puppy and was the toast of Saturday morning there. It’s a beautiful old Southern town, full of tree-lined streets, antebellum homes that are crying out for restoration, and charm you only find in places that have been around for awhile. It’s a good place to call home.
Jesus’ hometown was Nazareth, which is several days’ walk north of His birthplace in Bethlehem (Joseph’s ancestral home). Matthew talks about Jesus being called a Nazarene. John, Matthew’s fellow apostle, records how their (other) fellow apostle, Nathanael, asked “can anything good come from Nazareth,” when informed of Jesus’ hometown. People of Jesus’ time looked down on Nazareth. They didn’t even think about Jesus being born, the branch of King David, in Bethlehem, then being raised as just another man in just another hometown.
We become who we are, in part, because of where we grow up. Environment influences, but doesn’t determine, outcome; see “Pygmalion.” Erin Napier became a design expert, in part, because she grew up in a place in need of it. Jesus grew up to be a carpenter, in part, because He lived in Nazareth, in His parents’ home, apprenticed to His craftsman earthly father. Free will still trumps environment but the latter still influences the former.
But consider Jesus, who was born as the Son of God to live and die a life we couldn’t. Yet the Father still put Him in a hometown like ours, like anywhere else, for OUR benefit; to grow among us so that we could better relate to Him. Ask Ben and Erin Napier; they’re believers, they’ll tell you. It’s so we might better know Him. It was an action for us, born out of definition, to fulfill an informal prophecy so that we could more easily get to know Him and His true reason for living among us.
For more reading: Isaiah 11:1, Mark 1:9, Mark 6:1, Luke 1:26, Luke 2:39 & 51, John 1:45-46, Matthew 3:1
Lord, thank You for living in Nazareth