And he 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.” (Matthew 2:23)
There are towns and cities in every community that are held in disregard or contempt. The reasons can be based upon history, prejudice, or the moral character of its citizens. In the first century, the city of Corinth was known for such sexual promiscuity that “to act like a Corinthian” was a synonym for debauchery and prostitution. Little is known about the city of Nazareth, and its only reference in the Bible is the New Testament. Joseph and Mary were in Nazareth when Gabriel announced the conception of the Son of God to the young couple. Jesus would not be born in Nazareth as the prophecy foretold the city of Bethlehem would be the heritage of God’s Son. Through the providence of the heavenly Father, a proclamation from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered took Joseph and Mary to their hometown of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. The Son of God would spend a couple of years in Bethlehem before his parents fled to Egypt to escape the soldiers of Herod. After some time, Joseph took the family to Nazareth, where Jesus would spend the greater portion of His life.
The wise men from the East came seeking the King of the Jews when Jesus was around two years of age. They recognized the son of Mary as being a king and finding Him in Bethlehem fit the prophecies of the prophets. The wise men could not imagine that after they returned home, Jesus would become a citizen of Nazareth and be called a Nazarene. Instead of hailing from the city of Bethlehem, Jesus would be known as Jesus of Nazareth. This model did not fit what the prophets said about the coming Messiah. Growing up in Nazareth did not follow the pedigree of a person of any importance.
It is uncertain why Nazareth was held with contempt but events from the life of Jesus could explain the prejudice against anyone called a Nazarene. Jesus spent almost His entire life in the city of Nazareth. He often went into the synagogue to read, study, and discuss the scriptures. His father (as was supposed) was a carpenter as Nazareth employed many carpenters. The people of Nazareth knew well who Jesus was. There can be little doubt the ‘handiwork’ of Jesus found itself among the crafts of agriculture, as well as utensils of everyday life as He forged the craft of carpentry like his father. Jesus had brothers and sisters who were well known among the Nazarenes. Joseph and Mary were not wealthy citizens but they were part of the fabric of Nazareth.
Jesus began His public ministry of preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth. The people were offended by this carpenter’s son, who had wisdom and the power to do miracles. Jesus was nothing more than a carpenter’s son. His mother was Mary, a woman of no importance. The brother of Jesus were not influential members of society and His sisters less. All in all, the family of Jesus was a common as any others of Nazareth. When Jesus taught in their synagogue, the leaders were offended by Him and Jesus could do no mighty works among them because of their unbelief.
Luke recorded when Jesus came into the synagogue of Nazareth, He read from the book of Isaiah. After He gave the book back to the attendant, Jesus proclaimed the reading of the prophet was fulfilled in Jesus Himself. When the men heard the gracious words of Jesus, they were filled with a wave of furious anger. They took Jesus and forced Him out of the city to the edge of the hill where they planned on throwing Jesus down to kill Him. Jesus passed through the crowd unawares and went His way. Twice they expelled Jesus from their borders. Jesus would seldom return to Nazareth because of their unbelief. Thus, the city of Nazareth was not held with great respect as to the rough character of its citizens.
Jesus would be called a Nazarene, attaching a stigma of dishonor to the one who became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is a great providential dichotomy in where Jesus was born according to prophecy and where He would grow up. If anyone had asked Jesus where He was born, they could have realized His Messianic birth. Jesus was rejected because He was known as a Nazarene. When the hearts of men removed the Nazarene and saw Jesus for who He was, they would come to see the power of the Son of God. People still look at Jesus as nothing more than a Nazarene who was a good man and a good teacher but nothing more. Salvation does not come from the Nazarene. The gift of God comes from the child born in Bethlehem to fulfill all the promises of God. Jesus is the Son of God.