I was born into and raised by a lower working class family in Lancashire, situated in England's northwest. This was my beginning, a Lancastrian. I never attached much significance to the "where" of my birth and upbringing until, as a renewed Christian, I learned that God always has His plans, reasons, and missions for His children's lives. The more "grown up" I've become, the more I've seen in my life the reasons for my humble beginning. I know that there are many reading this today, who, like me, are thanking God for what He has made of us and the lives we now live. No one can make such wonderful, useful, silk purses from sow's ears like our perfectly gracious and creative God.
Matthew 2:23 – And [Joseph] came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. (KJV)
John 1:46a – And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (KJV)
Though born in Bethlehem, our Lord was commonly known as Jesus of Nazareth, because Nazareth was the place where He was brought up. Jesus remained with His parents and worked in Joseph's carpentry shop until the time His ministry mission began.
Nazareth was a much-despised, small country town, where the people were not genteel, but rough, vulgar, rustic, without charm. In today's parlance, we might refer to such a place as "the pits". It was here that God planned and chose for Jesus to be raised — Jesus, the Messiah, His only begotten Son, Lord of lords, King of kings, Saviour of the world.
Nazareth was three days' walk from Jerusalem — which is where the Jews thought everything worth learning, plus the highest social conduct, could be found. The English may think similarly of Oxford or Cambridge.
"Nazarene" is a name of contempt — the name of shame and scorn, nailed above His head on the cross — "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews".
But our Lord Jesus Christ was not ashamed of this title; in fact, He called Himself, "Jesus of Nazareth". On the Damascus Road, He told Paul when He smote him to the ground, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest." (Acts 22:8 KJV) Neither were His disciples ashamed to call Him "Jesus of Nazareth" as they walked to Emmaus.
Are we, as His disciples, willing to be despised Nazarenes for our Jesus the Nazarene? Are we greatly honoured to follow and belong to Him, without shame of His background or our own?
Of course, we are — for there is nothing shameful or despicable in our Saviour Christ. He is the Messiah and Son of the Most High God. We, too, are the children of the Most High God, whose plans, purposes, and missions we are living out, until He calls us from this earthly life.
Prayer: We praise You, our Father, for whatever were our beginnings and for whatever are our future missions in Your plans. Thank You for our Lord's example of a most humble beginning and His obedience in Your every plan He so willingly fulfilled for our sakes, salvation, and eternal life. Amen and Amen.