Unmentionable. People in Jesus’ time used this term to characterize the town of Nazareth in Israel. In all of the Old Testament, the word Nazareth never appears, nor does it appear in rabbinical writings. Of the dozens of prophecies made in the Old Testament, none mentions the small, uninspiring town of Nazareth. In spite of its obscurity and the slight it receives in Scripture, Nazareth played an important role in God’s plan for the coming of His Son.
God did not take the incarnation of His Son lightly. Every detail of His infinite plan had been orchestrated long in advance of Christ’s coming. Yet oddly and without warning, it was to Nazareth that God sent His angel Gabriel to announce the coming of Jesus Christ. Nazareth, in the region of Galilee, a backwater town far from the spiritual headquarters in Jerusalem, was chosen for the blessed proclamation. God sent Gabriel to the highly unlikely location of Nazareth to tell Mary that she would be the mother of Our Savior.
Prophecy called for the Messiah to be from the tribe of Judah and the lineage of King David. Expectations were for the Messiah to be associated with David’s traditional dwelling places, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, or at least somewhere in Judea. These seemed to bike logical choices. In contrast, Nazareth was obscure, not a noted center of Jewish spiritual significance. In fact, the town had a poor reputation and was looked upon with disdain. Scripture confirms this when Nathaniel, before he became a disciple, asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46). To have a Savior come from Nazareth seemed far from normal.
It was in Judea, not the region of Galilee, and especially not Nazareth, where one would expect to find the heir to David’s throne. But God had a grand plan for a humble servant, His Son Jesus. This included bypassing the seat of Jewish worship and the most Holy and exalted place in Israel – the Temple. Nazareth was far to the north of the Temple, roughly half-way between the Sea of Galilee on the east and the Mediterranean Sea on the west. Nestled in a valley between hills, it was not really on the way to anywhere important, and no major highways ran through the town.
Why would God go to such great lengths in choosing what was little more than a field outpost for the Jewish faith to be the place where He announced His Son’s birth and had Him raised? God’s choice of an obscure, ordinary place actually broadcast to the world a fundamental principle of the Incarnation – Jesus was sent to ordinary people, not just to the high-ranking priests in the synagogues. Jesus cares about all of us, not just the powerful and famous.
Nazareth had other advantages as well. Because of its seclusion, this town served as the perfect place to raise the Messiah. The remote location of this Jewish village provided a necessary buffer from the corruption of Jerusalem along with the accompanying political and spiritual turmoil. This village also established Jesus in the Galilee region where He could learn and practice His trade as a carpenter for the thirty years prior to His ministry.
God had His eye on another significant detail that completely eluded the Pharisees and Sadducees. The word Nazareth means branch or shoot in Hebrew. Thus, there is a prophetic aspect and significance to His selection of this obscure village. In Isaiah 11:1 it says, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” It is no coincidence that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David and David’s father, Jesse, spent His childhood and young adult life in a town named the Branch.
Conventional wisdom made Nazareth seem to be anything but a normal place to announce the birth of Our LORD and Savior, or to rear Him prior to His Earthly ministry. God purposely held His selection of Nazareth as His Son’s youthful habitat to confound the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:20).
It is normal for God to make us seek Him and His Son, and to ask questions that do not follow conventional thinking. “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.” (1 Chronicles 28:9). Jesus is The Branch, the true vine. If you remain in Him, He will remain in you. No Branch except Jesus can bear fruit by itself. Seek Him and His face always. Apart from Him you can do nothing.
“I’m Normal.™ I AM.”
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In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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