Jesus, Who is Called the Messiah
Sometimes God doesn’t reveal everything. He has wonderful mysteries yet to uncover.
Jesus who is called the Messiah
Christmas is the day the Western Church celebrates the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. The fulfillment of centuries of prophecy has led to this, and it is right that we have a day to annually remember Jesus’ coming as a child. The Son of God went through the experience of being born and growing up. “This high priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
There are at least 200 specific prophecies in the Old Testament that point to the coming of Christ. But only a couple talked about Christmas. That’s about one percent.
One was Micah 5:2: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.” Herod’s advisors heard this quote when the Magi showed up asking, “Where is He?”
One other was Jeremiah 31:15, “A cry is heard in Ramah— deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted— for her children are gone.” Matthew refers to this verse in the context of Herod’s slaughter of the children of Bethlehem and surrounding territory.
But there’s one more that many people miss. Matthew 2:23 says, “So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’” Yes, Jesus is at least a toddler by this point, but He’s still a young child so I count it in with Christmas.
If you look in a Bible that adds footnotes when the New Testament quotes an Old Testament verse, there isn’t a footnote for Matthew 2:23. “He will be called a Nazarene” does not show up, word for word, anywhere in the Old Testament. So why did Matthew say this was a fulfillment of prophecy? Didn’t anyone in seminary teach him to cite his references?
I think Matthew is referring to Isaiah 11:1:
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
“Branch” in Hebrew is נֵצֶר, pronounced “netser.” So, Nazareth is the “place of the Branch.” Over the centuries since Isaiah wrote about the Branch from David’s stump, the little “branch town” in Galilee came to be associated with the Branch to come. Some thought nothing good could come from there (John 1:46), but others knew.
Two Christmas prophecies – three if you count the “netser” reference. That’s it. Ninety-nine percent of the prophecies deal with Christ as an adult or as the returning, triumphant King. Why so little?
Christmas gifts are more fun when there’s a surprise. Sometimes God doesn’t reveal everything. He has wonderful mysteries yet to uncover. He never mentioned to any of the Old Testament prophets a word about the stable, the shepherds, the angels, or the Magi. He left some wonders unforetold.
Each year we read again the narratives of Matthew and Luke; we sing the familiar carols and light the advent wreath once more. It never gets old, because while we’ve heard it all before, there are still some wonders for Him to reveal to our hearts.
This Christmas, find that unrevealed wonder God has yet to show you. “Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (Luke 2:15).
Consider: Amongst the celebrations of Christmas, ask the Lord of Christmas to show you something new.
Not the angelic chorus, but a fitting way to end these meditations. (Click on the video to enlarge it.)