I do not know if I have ever seen a dedication in a Growth Community lesson. I need to dedicate this lesson to an awesome young man named Dallas. A few years ago, Dallas and I sat down each week and talked about the Bible. I told him he could pick any topic he wanted to learn about, and we could do a ten-week study on it. This kid went for the gusto and picked prophecies that had to do with Jesus. This entailed I could not rely on my bag of tricks, and I actually had to put some time in studying and preparing lessons. If it was not for Dallas, I would never have stumbled on an amazing truth in the Bible. Thank you, Dallas, for pushing me in my walk with God.
I love it when people call an impossible shot. There is none more iconic than Babe Ruth. With two balls and two strikes, the Great Bambino pointed to the center field. Little known fact, Charlie Root was the pitcher for the Chicago Cubs on this historic day. Root must have thought, “The Colossus of Clout” had lost his mind. Who can possibly call the seemingly impossible? On October 1, 1932, Babe Ruth called his shot, hit a home run, and this moment went down as one of the most historic moments in sports and American history.
What was the most iconic sports moment you have ever witnessed?
The amazing thing about the Bible is, the more you scratch at the surface, the more God can teach you. The prophecies about where Jesus’ childhood home town would be show just how amazing the Bible is.
The original prophesy about Jesus coming from Nazareth is found in Isaiah 11:1-2, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”
What are some details that stick out to you about these verses?
What key detail about Nazareth is missing from these verses?
Often times, people ask ministers, “What version of the Bible should I read?” (If you are curious, start with the one you can read and go from there.) My answer to that question is, “The one that is closest to the original language of the text.” The Bible was not written in English. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Over the centuries, it was translated into Latin, then to more common languages like German, French, Spanish, and English. Amazingly, the majority of the translations of the Bible have held the test of time. While there are still some language discrepancies, the Word of God that Isaiah wrote is still the same as what we read today. So, what do we do with the fact that the word or town Nazareth is nowhere to be found in Isaiah chapter 11?
To unlock the depth of this prophecy, you have to do a little bit of a study of the original Hebrew language. Isaiah 11:1 says, “A shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”
To understand how this is a messianic prophecy about Jesus, we have to look at the word “branch.” In this prophecy, the word we translate as “branch” is “naser” or “netzer.”
There are obvious similarities of “naser” to Nazarene, and “netzer” to Nazareth. Many early church leaders and theologians point to this as a bit of play on words that fulfill the Scriptures.
This prophecy is fulfilled in Matthew 2:19-23, “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.’ And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.”
Why do you think Isaiah just did not say, “Jesus is going to live in Nazareth?”
We live in a skeptical world; maybe you are not blown away by that. Well, let us look at another amazing part of this prophecy. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from Nazareth about 600 years before the village existed!
How true is the Word of God in your life?
God can call his shoot 600 years before a town was even planned. He placed the name within something a prophet wrote. He then used crazy men like Herod and Archelaus (the son of Herod the Great) to ensure that the safest place for Jesus to be raised would be in the town of Nazareth.
However, what was significant about Nazareth? If we read John 1:43-46, we see a real insight to what people thought of Nazareth and its residents. “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”
How would it make you feel if someone said, “Nothing good comes from (insert your home town)?”
I grew up in Waterford as a kid. I grew up in the Elizabeth Lake area of Waterford. A few years ago, I read an article saying that it is one of the worst areas of Waterford, and the school district was struggling to find bus drivers because the people were so horrible. Needless to say, I wanted to punch the writer of that article, but that made me, a grown man, feel horrible.
Why would God’s plan be for Jesus to grow up in a place that was looked down on?
God always had a purpose for the pain. He did not just send Jesus to be born a social outcast. I always believe that God has the logic behind His plan. Nazareth was located between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. While the Bible does not record all of Jesus’ childhood, it would be a safe bet to say that Jesus grew from childhood to manhood there. In the city of Nazareth, there was a Roman military post. In Jesus’ time, that post was pretty much all that Nazareth was known for. There was no special temple, no amazing restaurants, and no great archeological masterpiece. Nazareth was known for a place where the Roman army was encamped. Romans were the overlords of the Jews in Jesus’ time. There was a lot of distrust and tension between the Romans and the Jews. So much so, that most Jews avoided any association with the town of Nazareth. The Jewish people who lived in Nazareth were viewed by their fellow people as spies or traitors.
Why does God allow us to be in situations where people look down on us?
As I said, I think there is always an extremely logical reason why God does what He does. Jesus was from Nazareth because it was the best place for Him to grow up. Jesus grew up in a place where Roman soldiers were constantly around, that is the last place Herod Archelaus would send troops to look for Jesus.
I know this lesson was a bit deep. Whenever I preach or write something, I go with two concepts. “What do I want people to know, and what do I want them to do.” For this lesson, if your brain is a bit exhausted, that is a good thing.
Why is it important to understand how amazing God’s plan is for us?
God is in complete control. God was able to tell the world that His Son would be from a town that was not even a concept yet.
What is God capable of doing with a church that is relentlessly obedient to what He calls us to do?