Jesus of Nazareth
It is one of the condescending attributes of the Saviour that joined to the incomparable name of Jesus, should have been joined the name of lowly Nazareth.
Nazareth was a place of no consequence in the eyes of many in Israel. Its isolated geographic position, the unpolished Galilean accent of its inhabitants, along with a reputation for loose morals and religion, made it a by-word in the eyes of many, especially among the Pharisees, as an undesirable place of abode. So much so that Nathanael, when he was called by Philip to see Jesus Christ, asked: “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip wisely answered: “Come and see” (John 1:46).
A similar question was asked of Nicodemus in John 7:52 – “They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.”
Yes, Nazareth was by its reputation an unlikely place for the Messiah to come from, but did not Isaiah say that He would be “as a root out of a dry ground”? Mary and Joseph when they returned from Egypt went to their city, Nazareth, and in so doing the prophecy was fulfilled concerning Christ: “He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23).
Those who know something of their own hearts, will think it an even greater wonder that by His Spirit, He should dwell in their hearts by faith.
Dwelling in Nazareth was one of the steps Christ took in His humiliation, as we read in Philippians 2:7: “But made Himself of no reputation.” Here Jesus was brought up in His holy childhood, and in fact lived in Nazareth for the first thirty years of His earthly life, in apparent obscurity, yet all the while He was “about His” – heavenly – “Father’s business” while serving in Joseph’s carpenter’s shop. This was part of His obedience to His Father, and a part of that royal robe of righteousness with which He has adorned His people. A great part of that robe was wrought in Nazareth.
When His earthly ministry began, His early roots were not forgotten. When Blind Bartimaeus sat by the wayside begging, hearing a great tumult, he was told, “Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.” The lowly name of Nazareth was no hindrance to the believing Bartimaeus. “And he cried, saying, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” His faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, “saved him” as the Lord Jesus said – not just from the blindness which had afflicted him for so long, but we may believe that he was saved in the gospel sense; a sinner saved by grace. When the Lord Jesus rode into Jerusalem, He was acclaimed as “Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matthew 21:11)
When He hung on the cross, His superscription was “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (John 19:19)
When He came forth from the tomb, triumphant over death and the grave, did He lose this title? The young man, evidently an angel, said to the fearing women, “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him” (Mark 16:6). A wonderful testimony that He is “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Even after His ascension, this name was still dear to His disciples. Peter in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost said: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him, as ye yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22). It was in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that Peter healed the lame man at the gate called Beautiful (see Acts 3:6).
Even more remarkable was the testimony of Paul, the apostle, who testified that when he was apprehended on the road to Damascus, the voice of Christ was heard by him saying, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest” (Acts 22:8). In another place he says that Jesus spoke in the Hebrew tongue.
So even on His throne, as on His cross, the Lord Jesus was not ashamed to mention lowly Nazareth. He has not forgotten His low estate here below, and still retains His human heart, which beat so lovingly in lowly Nazareth as on the cross, for His dear people’s sake. “He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11), even though they are of low estate through the Fall; poor in spirit by divine teaching, and beggars needing continual mercy from His condescending love.
Gerald D. Buss