I grew up in a very small town. When I tell people the name of the town where I lived as a kid, they typically shrug their shoulders and say, “Never heard of it.” It is of no significance to them. That is how it was for Jesus.

Matthew tells us in verse 2:23 that Joseph settled his family in Nazareth after returning from Egypt. As the verse explains, this was in fulfillment of the prophesy that “he would be called a Nazarene.” InIsrael.com describes Nazareth as so insignificant that it is not even listed in the Talmud or by Josephus. Few people outside of Galilee had ever heard of Nazareth which InIsrael remarks is almost saying Jesus was from nowhere.

Those who did know about Galilee did not speak highly of it. In John 1:45, when Phillip announced to Nathanael he had found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael remarked, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”

If that wasn’t enough, even the residents of Nazareth, the people who grew up with Jesus, rejected him. Luke 4:16-30 describes the account where Jesus returned to Nazareth and proclaimed himself as the Messiah in the synagogue. As a result the people of Nazareth tried to throw him off a cliff. Jesus’ remark to the people, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown (Luke4:24),” is an understatement.

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is repeatedly referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth”, as if to say that he is of no significance. In Matthew 26:71, after Jesus is arrested and taken away to be crucified, a servant girl accused Peter of being with “Jesus of Nazareth”. In Mark 10:47 when the blind man heard that “Jesus of Nazareth” is near, he promptly corrected them by shouting, “Jesus, Son of David.” Many rebuked him for saying that.

Even the apostles are labeled with the term Nazarene. In Acts 24 when Paul was brought before the governor he was accused of being a trouble maker who is stirring up riots. They go as far to say, “He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.”

When we associate ourselves with Jesus, we take on the label of being a Nazarene. People will look at you as if you are from nowhere significant. They will look at you and say, “Can anything good come from you?” While your hometown may not try to throw you off a cliff, your friends and family may not accept your new life in Christ. You may even be accused of being a ringleader for that Jesus of Nazareth.

To follow Christ means we must stop identifying ourselves with the titles and addresses of prestige in this world, and be willing to identify ourselves as being a follower of Jesus the Nazarene, “a ring leader of the Nazarene sect.”

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