Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.” This week he covers Matthew 2:10-23, retelling the return of Joseph, Mary and Jesus and how they came to settle in Nazareth. He also talks about dreams from God and our obedience to God’s promptings.
Last week, Joseph taking Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod’s infanticide and later returning to Israel after Herod’s death, fulfilled this prophecy from Hosea.
When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. ~ Hosea 11:1
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. ~ Matthew 2:19-21
FIRST BIG IDEA – Angel Dreams were frequent for Joseph
ἄγγελος, aggelos ~ (ang’-el-os).
a messenger, in the Bible, specifically a supernatural messenger, an angel.
ὄναρ ~ onar ~ (on’-ar)
not a waking trance or a vision. It refers strictly to a sleep-dream.
Occurs only six times in the New Testament, all of them in Matthew. Five in these opening chapters, once when Pilate’s wife has a dream, warning him not to be involved with the trial of Jesus.
SECOND BIG IDEA – Immediate Obedience to God
But when he [Joseph] heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. ~ Matthew 2:22a
(Archelaus had recently slaughtered 3,000 protesters in the Temple and canceled Passover)
Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. ~ Matthew 2:22b-23a
This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” ~ Matthew 2:23
MATTHEW’S THREE BIG THEMES
1) Jesus is the promised Messiah. He fulfills all prophecies about the Messiah.
2) Jesus is the New Moses, even greater than Moses, the new authoritative teacher and voice of God.
3) Jesus is God. He is Immanuel. God with us.
“HE SHALL BE CALLED A NAZARENE” – This prophecy does not occur in this form in the Old Testament. Why does Matthew quote it this way?
Archaeology tells us about 100 B.C., some of the Jews, returning from Babylon – long after the captivity had ended, settled in the area our New Testament calls Nazareth. They named their town after their family name, Natsara, hence the town was called Natsareth in Hebrew. In addition, a marble plaque from the 3rd or 4th century A.D. was discovered in archaeological excavations in Caesarea in 1962. It refers to a family that came from this town and it is the oldest surviving example of a written Hebrew spelling of the town of Natsareth. So how did Natsareth become Nazareth in English? In Natsareth, the Hebrew letter tsahdee is used which has a ts sound. Greek though, does not have an equivalent letter for the Hebrew sade. So, the New Testament writers, even though they were Jews, when they wrote a Hebrew name in Greek, they used the Greek letter zeta (which becomes our English Z) in the place of the Hebrew sade. Thus, Natsereth becomes Nazareth in our English translations.
Now, with all that in mind, we also know from history and archaeology that the ancient Natsoreans of 100BC, or as we would say in English, the ancient Nazarenes, were descendants of Judah and Jesse and David. They often spoke of themselves as “the Branch Clan,” clearly connecting themselves with some prophecies, like those of Isaiah and Zechariah, which refer to the Messiah symbolically as the branch. We’ll look at those in a moment. Because of this, they were often ridiculed by people from other areas of Israel. “How preposterous that these humble, working class people would think the great messiah, the King of Israel would spring from them. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch (the word branch here is the Hebrew word, nay’tser – the same root word of Natsareth) from His roots will bear fruit. ~ Isaiah 11:1
Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch (Here the word Branch, in Hebrew, is tseh’-makh it’s not the same word Isaiah uses in Isaiah 11:1 but it is a synonym) ~ Zechariah 3:8
“In that day,” declares the Lord of hosts, “every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.” ~ Zechariah 3:10
Jesus, the branch, the nay’tser, will come from Natsareth, He will be a Natsarene.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. ~ John 15:1-2
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 any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” ~ John 1:45-46
Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Ohhhhh yes. Matthew wants us to know, in fact, The Messiah, the best thing ever, comes out of Nazareth!
TODAY’S TWO TAKEWAYS
1) Our Hebrew roots matter.
2) If God speaks to you and tells you to do something, if you are 100% sure it is from God, just do it!