I made an executive decision yesterday about this blog—Tuesdays are going to now be devoted to blog posts about Yeshua (also known by His non-Hebrew name, Jesus).
Also yesterday (about 35 days before Easter – I’m getting a late start for Lent), I decided it would be a good idea to read through the Gospels in the days leading up to the day celebrating the most important event mentioned in those books. Reading through the Bible always seems daunting to me, and I’ve started and stopped so many times I’m not sure it’s done me any good at all. But reading through four books in the Bible (all of which I’ve read before)? That seemed like a piece of cake. So much for sacrificing something for Lent, but I’m not Catholic, so I can get away with it. 😉
I did the math (no small feat for me, which you would understand if you knew me) and figured out that meant I would only have to read two chapters each day to get through all four books in time for Easter – just two chapters a day (although there will probably be some days when I have to read three). Still, totally doable, so I’m doing it.
I started off reading Matthew 1 and 2 (makes sense to read them sequentially, right?). Matthew 1 goes through Joseph’s genealogy (which, I think, is interesting in itself, since Joseph wasn’t actually Jesus’ father), but this is a book that was written for the Jews, and the Jews apparently only count a person’s genealogy through the father, so I guess Matthew had to write his genealogy that way.
And then we read about all the traditional Christmas story stuff—Mary, Joseph, the angels, the wise men… and the power-hungry King Herod. Then something interesting happens at the end of the second chapter (at least, I thought it was interesting because it had never occurred to me before).
Matthew 2:23 (NLT): “So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’”
Nowhere in the Old Testament does anyone even mention Nazareth, and this exact statement: “He will be called a Nazarene” doesn’t appear anywhere in the old prophecies. So why does Matthew assert that it does? It seems that he is, in fact, referring to several different prophecies in the Book of Psalms and Isaiah, specifically. And a look at the Hebrew language can give us some decent clues as to what Matthew is referring to.
A Nazarene, of course, is someone who comes from Nazareth. The Hebrew word for Nazareth is believed to have come from the word netzer; that is, “branch” or “sprout”, as in the “branch” from the roots of the stem of Jesse (i.e., David), mentioned in Isaiah 11:1 (NASB). So Matthew is saying a lot more than just “Jesus was from Nazareth, as the foretold Messiah would be.” He’s saying Jesus IS that Messiah. He IS the branch that grew off of the stem of Jesse. It’s a clever play on words, and you should know by now that I love a good play on words. And it’s a play on words that holds an amazing truth deep within. I love that even more!