Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS (John 19:19)
A live branch shooting forth from a dead tree is impossible, unless of course you are The Messiah. The One who comes to bring life from the dead. The One who begins the process of bearing fruit, where no fruit has been borne. And the One who is our only hope of escaping death and finding eternal life.
Last week we looked at Bethlehem and discovered why the Messiah had to enter into the world from heaven in that very town. Today, we are going to discover why Nazareth was the very town He had to grow up in before He could shoot forth on His ministry, and how we should recognize from Bethlehem until now, that we have been on a journey with the ARK in this wilderness of life.
Matthew 2:23 tells us: 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. Many stumble when they get to this Messianic prophecy since they can’t find one actual prophecy in the Old Testament from one specific prophet. Of course, because we know that God cannot lie, we have to take a deeper look into this seed of truth to gain an understanding. First notice this scripture says, “spoken by the prophets”. This plural form of the word allows us to understand that there was a compilation of many prophets that were speaking towards this fulfillment of Messiah, not just one.
Isaiah 11:1 reveals to us that Messiah will be a rod that comes out of the stem of Jesse and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. This prophecy comes after a time when Solomons throne was to be taken from his son and the nation seemed as good as dead (1 Kings 11:11-13). But from this seemingly dead tree, a live branch would shoot forth. Do you know what the Hebrew word is for branch? Nezert. When an ending is added you get Netzeret or (Nazareth) which literally means: Place of the branch. So Isaiah is just one prophet speaking of the Branch (Nazarene) that will shoot forth. But since the scripture is plural, what other prophets have spoken about a (branch) that is to come forth? Let’s take a look and see what we discover.
The Rod (branch that shoots out from root) of Moses– Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod (branch) that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. (Exodus 7:17) . Raise your staff (branch) and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. (Exodus 14:16)
The Rod (branch that shoots out from root) of Aaron- Numbers 17:10-11-The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff (branch) in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” Moses did just as the Lord commanded him.
The Rod (branch that shoots out from root) of David- He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. (1 Samuel 17:40-45)
The Rod (branch that shoots out from root) that Jeremiah saw- And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ (Jeremiah 23:5-7)
The Branch that Zechariah saw- 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. For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. ‘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.’” (Zech 3:8-10)
The Shoot from a Root that Isaiah saw– For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty, That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. (Isaiah 53:2) This is probably why it is written: Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”(John 1:46)
The Fulfillment that John sees-I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Rev 22:16)
So as you begin to look back through the prophets you begin to see that many of them spoke of A Branch that was to come. It was from Nazareth- The place of the Branch where the Messiah had to grow up and shoot forth from. As He grew up from Nazareth, He now becomes more than the first fruit branch for us, but the very vine itself that gives life. This gives deeper insight into what Acts 24:5 reveals to us: For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Here, Jesus’ followers are identified as Nazarenes. This seems to paint a picture of us as Christians, being the offshoot branches from the Head. This lines up with Jesus’ teaching Himself in John 15:5 when He says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Even more so we begin to understand the prophecies of the Messiah and who He really was as Hebrews 9:4 teaches us: having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;
For these are the prophecies of the Messiah, the Root and Offspring of David, the Branch that was to come…
Micah 5:2- But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.” This is the living manna!
Hosea 11:1-When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.
Matthew 2:13-15- When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son. This is the tables of the Covenant and the Law!
Matthew 2:22-23- But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. 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. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” This is Aarons Rod (Branch) which budded)!
How ironic that the only Living Branch would have to hang on a cursed dead tree in order to give hope to a dying mankind. Surely we can identify with Matthew 27:54- Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
This Son of God was Jesus of Nazareth, our Branch, our Messiah and our Ark of Salvation.