We have been walking through the Christmas Towns. Along the way we have met people who struggled to understand what God was doing. In “The Unknown Town,” in the hill country of Judea, we watched as Mary and Elizabeth stood amazed as the truth of God’s plan was confirmed. In Bethlehem we felt the wonder of how God worked in the lives of Joseph and Mary to fulfill his grand plan. In Jerusalem we met the Magi who searched for King Jesus, King Herod who was opposed to King Jesus and religious leaders who were indifferent to King Jesus. If you’ve taken notice you’ve probably seen yourself and what God is doing in your life.
Today we enter the fourth Christmas town, Nazareth. Most of what is written about Jesus’ life occurred in a three-year time span, specifically the last three years of his life. Yet, Jesus spent most of his time on earth in the small, out of the way town of Nazareth. Nazareth was not an impressive town. It was an out of the way place. In fact, anyone who wanted to hide often went to Nazareth. A well-known saying of the time was this, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Yet Jesus became known as a Nazarene.
Have you ever felt like if you just lived somewhere else, or somewhere more important, that you could do more for the Lord. Of course, there is nothing wrong with living somewhere else. But a mere change of address usually does not cause a person to grow “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”
Here’s a thought: It is not where you are that matters most. What matters the most is what you choose to do with the time where you are. Jesus was not embarrassed by growing up in Nazareth. He was often referred to as Jesus of Nazareth. In fact whenever Saul saw the bright light on the road to Damascus and asked, “Who are you?” Jesus answered, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.” The sign nailed to the cross just above his head read: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. So while the world around him thought little of Nazareth, he redefined it and made it something good. So much so that he referred to himself as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus’ heritage did not define who he was; rather he defined his past.
So this is the message from Nazareth: You can grow right where you are. “Grow where you’re planted” as the saying goes. Nazareth was a place of growth for Jesus. In Nazareth he grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. That means that he grew mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.
Everyone has to grow up somewhere. For Jesus, Nazareth was the time of preparation and growth. Jesus had all his relationships in order, those with people and with God. He really was going through all types of earthly growth so he could embark on his heavenly mission. So it is with each of us. We grow in relationship with God and one another. Are your relationships in order?
What can you do to grow in each of the four areas? Try writing down a specific action item next to each area. The scriptures below might be helpful. For example: In wisdom: read the Bible daily or take a course that challenges your mind. In stature: walk, work out, or drink enough water each day. In favor with God: fast, pray daily, find a place to serve someone somewhere and do it consciously for the sake of Christ. In favor with man: set regular times to be with friends, be kind to other
Merry Christmas. – Dan
Mentally: Matthew 22:37; 2 Peter 1:5-7; 2 Timothy 2:15; Romans 12:2b
Physically: 1 Timothy 4:8;Romans 6:13; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 9:27; James 3:2-6; 1 Peter 4:1; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Spiritually: John 8:29; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 John 5:3-4
Socially and Emotionally: Matthew 2:39; 7:12; Luke 6:31; Galatians 5:6b; 1 John 3:18; Romans 12:9-21; John 13:34-35; Galatians 5:13