“Jesus the Nazarene”

Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, but was brought up in Nazareth in Galilee. Shortly after His birth, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream commanding him to take Jesus and His mother Mary and flee to Egypt in order to escape Herod who sought to kill Him. Sometime later, at God’s direction, Joseph returned to Israel with his family, but when he heard Herod’s son, Archelaus, was reigning over Judea, he was afraid to go back there. And so, being warned by God in dream, he went to the region of Galilee and dwelt in a city called Nazareth (Mat.2:19-23).
Matthew writes that Jesus came and dwelt in Nazareth that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Nazareth was not a well-known or popular town, and in fact there is a degree of negativity attached to it in the scriptures. When Philip told Nathaniel that they had found the one of whom Moses wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, he responded with this question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
The prophecy, “He shall be called a Nazarene,” is not so much a statement about where Jesus grew up as it is a declaration that like Nazareth, Jesus would be despised. Isaiah wrote this of Christ, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3). His followers were disparagingly called “the sect of the Nazarenes” (see Acts 24:5). Like Christ, those of us who follow Him can expect to be despised in this world. Jesus of Nazareth said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). May we, like our Lord, love the world, but also be prepared like Jesus to endure hostilities from it (see Heb.12:3).