Labels#1. “Nazarene.”

The name Kodak was once synonymous with cameras and film. It was the brand to catch. But who would ever have predicted a time when a new generation would arrive that “have never heard of them”? Such is the nature of Brand names, it is a matter of: “stay relevant, or die!”

Jerusalem was the centre of Israel’s world. And next to the Temple itself, the Sanhedrin was the high-power name that was forgotten at your peril.

Far from Jerusalem, and absent from Israel’s holiday travel broachers, was Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Nathanael spoke for everyone when Philip told him that Jesus came from Nazareth: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

Nazareth was no Paris. Instead, it was more like a place that people remembered to forget.

The Chief Priest’s and Pharisees expressed their disdain for Jesus and his followers by pointing out that the Messiah was not expected to appear from a place on the-other-side-of-Samaria. When chiding Nicodemus for suggesting that Jesus was entitled to a fair trial, they mocked him by saying, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee” (John 7:52).

Jesus, as prophesied, was indeed born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1), not Nazareth in Galilee. However, settling in his father’s home in Nazareth after their journey to Egypt, began the fulfilment of the prophesy: “He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23).

This itinerant preacher, miracle worker, and self-proclaimed Messiah was called by friend and foe alike: “Jesus the Nazarene.”

Even in Jesus’ death, it was Pilate who showed disdain for the enemies of Jesus by elevating Jesus’ God-given name:
“Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (John 19:19).

This was a divine label designed to stick. Ever relevant…and never able to die!

John Staiger

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