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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Messiah on the Run

Skip Heitzig - Messiah on the Run

Skip Heitzig - Messiah on the Run
Skip Heitzig - Messiah on the Run
TOPICS: Against All Odds, Bible Prophecy

Father, you know the end from the beginning. We have seen that. We've established that fact. You have shown yourself time and time again, through the teaching of your word, that you know what people think. You know what's going to happen. You call it before it happens so that when it does, we can stop right there and realize that we're dealing with the God of eternity who can see the plan, establish the plan, and then make us a part of your plan. Father, I pray that you will comfort hearts. Lord, you know the end from the beginning, so you know what's going to happen to us this afternoon, tomorrow, in a month, in a year, and we can just rest in that? Because not only do all things, you care so deeply for us. And we commit this time to you, Lord. We pray that we would be instructed and that in what we learn, we would rejoice and we would honor you with our lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.

I distinctly remember being a little kid. And I got cut by grabbing some rusty metal. And I was taken to the hospital. My mom told the doctor. The doctor said, he's going to need a tetanus shot. And so what I remember is how much I cried like a little baby, saying, no. And what I was saying no to, and I'd already been cut by metal, but just the thought of getting a needle stuck in me. That's how kids think. It's like too much. Their whole world is coming to an end. I remember standing in the hospital saying no, no, no. My mom saying, too late.

My mom was a nurse. And she was very handy with a needle. And in the midst of my wailing, she had already injected the needle in my arm, giving me the shot. It was done. And I didn't even know it. But how foolish is it to reject a cure when that cure cant fix whatever condition you have? I was reading a blog this week about a couple who had traveled to the Philippines. And there's one little island in the Philippines that still treats leprosy, the disease of leprosy. And they do it by a multi-drug therapy. They give a pill. And they give medicine over a period of time that eradicates the disease.

So there is a clinic. And this couple noticed patients were lined up inside this clinic to receive their drug therapy. But they said what is unusual, is that at the end of the line, they're given the medicine. And before they walk out the door, there is a doctor there who makes the patient open his or her mouth to make sure they swallowed the pill. Because they discovered, a lot of patients will be given the medicine, put it in their mouth, and as soon as they get out the clinic door, they spit it out. And you would say, why would they want to do that? Because they want to remain with their disease.

And the reason being is because they are professional solicitors. They have gotten money. Locally and internationally, pours into the post office money to help these families. And they know when the disease ends, the money ends. So they would rather have their disease and not be cured because of the financial benefits. Reports have even come that they will expose their children so that their children will get the disease in order to make sure there is perpetuity in that financial benefit. Can you imagine wanting to hold onto a disease rather than be cured of that disease? But that is what happens all the time in a spiritual way when it comes to the salvation of souls. Jesus Christ is the cure for what ails you. But so many people will reject him and rather stay in their disease and hold on to their sinful lifestyle rather than be cured.

When Jesus came, the Bible tells us, he came to his own. And his own received him not. They didn't want the cure. What's astonishing is how early on this is manifest. From Jesus' childhood, he begins to be rejected already. And that's what we're going to look at in Matthew chapter 12. We're going to begin in verse 13 and read down. But we're getting here some insight into the early life of Jesus. Now, if you have read the New Testament, you know that very little is written about Jesus' early life as a child. Luke has like one or two verses that tell us that he grew up. And he grew in stature and wisdom. And then he tells us the story how when Jesus was 12 years old, he's in Jerusalem for his bar mitzvah, and Jesus' mother, Mary, finds him sitting around the scholars who are astonished at his wisdom and his understanding. But other than that, nothing is written. And there's a reason for that. That is not the focus of the New Testament writers because that is not really the focus of God's redemptive plan.

Jesus' childhood, though it's part of the plan, the focus of the plan is the three years of his adult ministry as he goes to the cross, dies, is buried, and then raised. Because that is where salvation is. That is where the power is. And so that is where the emphasis lies. However, Matthew does give us, not detail, but some general events. And these events are tied to places where Jesus, as a child, lived and moved and then settled. So he goes from Bethlehem and then from Bethlehem, down to Egypt. Then from Egypt, he goes up to Nazareth.

And so we're going to look at this because Matthew thinks that what he is establishing are the credentials of the Messiah, the credentials that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. So he begins by giving us his genealogical record, showing us that he is of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, of the royal lineage of King David. He then establishes the fact that Isaiah predicted he be born of a virgin, that Micah predicted he would be born in Bethlehem, all fulfilling prophecy, all laying out his credential. But he continues here in verse 13 of Matthew chapter 2 about other prophets and other predictions that were given that he fulfilled as a child. Now, here's what I'd like you to notice as we go through this. And I'll bring it up.

There is an undercurrent going on. There's something going on that is the grand theme of the flow of all of these prophetic scriptures. And that is the earthly response to the heavenly plan. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son", that's the heavenly plan. But we're already starting to see the response of people on Earth to God's plan. And I've got to tell you, it's not good. It's not a good response. You have people already spitting out the medicine before Jesus can even come of age to deliver it.

So we begin with a fugitive Messiah. Verse 13, "When they had departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, arise. Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word. For Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. And was there until the death of Herod that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophets saying, out of Egypt I have called my son."

So we're dealing with the magi. The magi came, asked Herod were the King of the Jews was going to be born. Herod didn't like that. He was troubled because of it. The wise men leave Herod's presence, go to Bethlehem a few miles away, find Jesus, go inside the house, give him, literally, gifts fit for a King, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and they worship him. So right off the bat, as soon as Jesus is born, we see Gentiles worshipping him but his own nation rejecting him. Those very Jewish scribes who knew the Messiah was going to be born in Bethlehem according to Micah's prophecy, they don't even go to Bethlehem to find out, let alone worship him. These magi, these Persian kingmakers, have traveled hundreds of miles to not only find the King of the Jews, but to worship him.

So an angel brings word to them, says you guys, get out of town. Get out of dodge, go back home, flee. And then also you'll notice the dream to Joseph in verse 13, "Arise. Take the the young child and his mother and flee to Egypt." The word flee is the word fugo in Greek. Fugo is where we get our word fugitive. He's going to be a fugitive. Y'all are going to be a fugitive in Egypt. You're going to run. You're going to flee. You're going to escape. Now, why are they told to go to Egypt? I mean, Galilee is closer up north. Why not go east to Edom? Or why not go follow the Magi to where they're going to go because they could be protected by them? For that matter, why not go to Joppa? That's the beach, man. You can surf in Joppa. It's good weather in Joppa.

Why go to Egypt? Egypt is 75 miles away from Bethlehem. That's just the border of Egypt. It's another 100 miles to get to any meaningful population base. Why Egypt? It's because they're about to fulfill prophecy. Joseph doesn't know this. He just goes as the angel directs him. But it's all to fulfill prophecies spoken in the book of Hosea, "Out of Egypt I called my son." Now, just a little bit of background. Joseph and Mary and Jesus would have found an enormous Jewish population in Egypt at the time. About a million Jews were already living there. And that is because there had been several wars that created refugees.

And between the Old and the New Testament, that intertestamental period, during the Maccabean revolts, which now you know about because we've told you about the Maccabean revolt against the Syrians, because of those wars, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people for year after year after year, fled down to Egypt. So there is a refugee population of over a million at this time, Jewish people. We also know that Alexander the Great, who once conquered the world, established a city in Egypt named after himself, because he was so modest and humble, called Alexandria, Egypt. And he apportioned a part of that city for a Jewish population. So there were already a group of people, an infrastructure, waiting for Joseph and Mary and Jesus.

So we don't know how long, months, a couple of years, Jesus started to grow up in Egypt. Now, we don't know anything about what happened during those years. Those are silent years. Although, there are documents out there, there are spurious documents, there are unreliable documents, that give you all sorts of weird stories about Jesus growing up in Egypt. They're called gnostic sources or gnostic gospels. The Gospel of Thomas is one of them. And in that fictitious document, there are stories of the boy Jesus raising fish from the dead, resurrecting fish so they come back alive and putting them back in the water. Or Jesus making birds out of clay and then breathing on them and they flew away. All sorts of weird stories.

They're not true. They're made up. But people have recognized these are silent years. So they're trying to fill in the blanks. Now, you'll notice in verse 15 that he quotes the prophet. This is the prophet Hosea. "Out of Egypt I called my son." That's the original prophecy. If you were just reading through the book of Hosea and you came to chapter 11 verse 1 where this is found, you would stop, having read what we just read, and you would say, well, that doesn't sound like it has anything at all to do with Jesus. In fact, it sounds like it has to do everything with Israel as a people. And you would be right.

Listen to the prophecy. "When Israel was a child, I loved him. And out of Egypt I called my son." So what son is God referring to in Hosea 11:1? Israel, not Jesus. And he's looking back. Hosea is looking back to when they were under pharaoh's bondage for 400 years before God delivered them in the exodus out of Egypt and gave them the promised land. So what does that have to do with Jesus? This is what we call typical prophesy or typological prophecy, typical predictive prophecy. When Matthew talks about Jesus being born in Bethlehem, which we have already covered, that's a direct verbal prophecy. This is something different. It is called typical predictive prophecy. And that just means that there are types of Jesus in the Old Testament that are seen in the New.

One of the most famous examples is the Passover lamb. The Passover lamb, every time a Passover lamb was killed, it speaks of Jesus because we're told that in the New Testament. Another type is the serpent on the pole that Moses held up in the wilderness. And we know that's a type because Jesus said, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man will also be lifted up, speaking of his cross. So that is a type. That is typical predictive prophecy.

Now, the book of Hosea is one of the most amazing well-loved stories in all of the Bible. Hosea was a prophet who married a girl named Gomer. Yeah, you know you're going to have trouble when the guy marries a girl and her name is Gomer, right? That's strike one. Well, it goes downhill from there because Gomer turns out to be a prostitute. Not only a prostitute, but once they get married, she leaves him and goes back to prostitution. She even has illegitimate children. In fact, Hosea names one of his kids "not my child." She leaves the home, starts sleeping around town. Hosea follows her and provides for her food and money to keep her alive. Chasing that because he loves her.

Well, things go from bad to worse until finally, she becomes a slave sold on the open slave market. And Hosea, her husband, is there to buy her back, take her home, and honor her as his wife. And all of that is a picture of the love of God. Not only does Hosea preach the love of God in his book, he lived it in his life. So just as Hosea redeemed Gomer, God redeemed Israel. Just as Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea, Israel was unfaithful to God. And just as Hosea bought her back and restored her, God restored Israel. So the prophet Hosea becomes a picture of God's heart-broken love for his people.

Now Matthew looks at that and says, well, Jesus' return from Egypt was pictured by Israel's exodus out of Egypt. And so he quotes it here. "Out of Egypt I have called my son." The reason this is not unusual for Matthew to do so, and Matthew is writing to Jewish people, that's his audience, is because by Matthew's time in the synagogue, the Jews already equated the exodus out of Egypt with the Messiah. They took the scripture Exodus chapter 4 verse 22 which says, "Israel is my son, my firstborn," and they saw that as a type of the Messiah who is to come. So already they were sort of predisposed to that.

So now we have a fugitive Messiah. We have a Messiah on the run by a jealous King named Herod the Great. It's as if hell is already stirring up people on the Earth to reject Jesus Christ. He's already priming them to spit out the seeds that would be the cure, the pills that would be the cure. So he's a fugitive Messiah. Look at the next few verses. We go from a fugitive Messiah to a hunted Messiah.

"Then Herod", verse 16, "when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry. And he set forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet saying, a voice was heard in Rama, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more." Can we all agree, in the very least, that Herod was a paranoid ruler? I mean, he slaughters every child in an area just to keep one of them from growing up and possibly taking his throne, all in attempt to kill Christ. He doesn't know who he is, doesn't know where he's gone. But just in case, we'll kill them all.

Now, in all fairness to the ancient population, because Bethlehem at that time would have been so small, this probably represents, most scholars agree, no more than 20 children. I mean, one's too many, but about 20 children at the time. And this is important to know because this is probably the reason why Josephus the historian and other writers do not include this in their history books. Because Herod killed so many people on so many occasions, including some of his own wives and children, that you'd just be writing that headline every single day. So some of that is included by ancient historians and some of it, including this one, is not.

But there was unimaginable horror in that area, as men would travel through the environs of Bethlehem and thrust their swords through the bodies of these little babies or cut off their heads. You can just imagine the weeping, the wailing, the scrambling of mothers to hide their little children, all fulfilling, according to Matthew, a prophecy. Jeremiah wrote about this in Jeremiah chapter 31 verse 15.

Now, the last thing Herod wanted to do was fulfilled prophecy. If anything, he'd want to stop it from happening. You remember, Herod said to the scribes and the Jewish leaders, where's the Messiah going to be born? They said, in Bethlehem. And they quote Micah 5:2. So he didn't want to fulfill prophecy. He wants to keep prophecy from being fulfilled. And in the process, he fulfills even more prophecy. Jeremiah 31, from where this text is taken, is a messianic section of scripture. You Bible students know that there is a portion of about four chapters around that area, Jeremiah 31, that are highly messianic. It speaks about a new covenant that is coming, a kingdom that is coming, and one who is going to bring that new covenant and bring that kingdom.

At the same time, the prophet looks forward from his vantage point, looks forward to a time when the nation of Israel or Judea, the south, will be taken captive by the Babylonians. They'll be brought back. They'll be restored. But they're going to go off to captivity. And when they do, the mothers are going to be weeping and wailing because their husbands are dead or are being captured, their children have been killed. "And so there will be weeping, a voice heard in Rama, lamentation", verse 18, "weeping, great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more."

Now, what does this refer to exactly? Well, there is a village north of Jerusalem called Rama. I know it because I have a friend who lives in Rama. And Rama just means a higher place or an elevated place. It's usually on a hill. And there are more than one, by the way. So Rama was a place where twice in the history of the Jews, the Jews were taken. It was a staging area to deport them or cart them off to a foreign country. It happened once when the northern kingdom went into captivity, 722 BC. It happened a second time when Judea, the southern kingdom, taken into captivity, 586 BC. So twice there was weeping and wailing and mourning because of death and destruction and deportation. So Rama represents the weeping when the nation was taken captive for their sins.

Why Rachel? What does Rachel have to do with it? By the time Jeremiah wrote that Rachel is weeping for her children, Rachel was long dead. Well, Rachel, it's a metaphor. It's a person who lived in the Old Testament. But she was seen as the mother of Israel. Remember, Rachel was one of the wives of Jacob. And you may remember the day she turned to her husband, her sister was already having a lot of kids. And she had no kids. And she turned to her husband Jacob and said, give me children or I'll die, not knowing that the children that she would have, the progeny, eventually would be killed so that Israel would be weeping because of those children.

Well, she had a couple of children. One was named Joseph. Joseph had two children, Ephraim and Manasseh. And if you are a Bible student, you know that the name Ephraim is sometimes used representing the entire northern kingdom, the northern 10 tribes, all summed up by one single name, one tribal name Ephraim, the northern kingdom. She had another son named Benjamin. And Benjamin becomes a tribe associated with the southern kingdom of Judah. There were two tribes down south, Judah and Benjamin. So twice would Rachel be weeping for her children, once when the northern kingdom went captive and once when the southern kingdom went captive.

Now, what we have here in this prophecy is yet another kind of prophecy. First is a direct verbal prophecy. That's the Micah "be born in Bethlehem" prophecy. The second we just covered is a typical predictive prophecy where one becomes a type of another. This is a third kind. It is a dual fulfillment prophecy or a near-far fulfillment where it's partially fulfilled in the near term, but it will be eventually fulfilled also in a greater manner further on down the road. Now, if you know prophecy, you know that this is one of the most common kinds of prophecy in the Bible, where a prophet makes a prediction, it happens. But it's going to happen again in a bigger stage in a bigger way in the future.

There's a lot of that in the Old Testament. One of the biggest examples is called the abomination of desolation. Daniel the prophet predicted an abomination of desolation or a defilement of the Jewish sanctuary, which happened by Antiochus Epiphanes. Don't need to rehash that history. Just know it was a done deal by the time the New Testament rolls around. And yet, even though it was done and fulfilled. Jesus said, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, run. So he spoke of something that was already fulfilled in the past as something that will be fulfilled in the future in a greater manner. That's dual fulfillment prophecy.

So here, it has been fulfilled already, the weeping, the wailing, the mourning, when Israel was taken into captivity. But the second dual part of the fulfillment, the far-reaching part, takes us to the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem, at Rama. Now, I said that there are many places called Rama. If you go to Bethlehem today, and you may want to just, if you ever take a taxicab there or ask a tour guide or anybody in the local area, I say, where is Rachel's tomb? And they'll point to a place next to Bethlehem called Rama.

It's not like the one up north where there was a staging going on for captivity. This is down in Bethlehem. It's an elevated place, a rama, facing Bethlehem. And that is where Rachel was buried. So even today, you have a Rachel in Bethlehem overlooking the town of Bethlehem, so to speak, weeping over her children. How amazing is that?

Once again, we have this undercurrent of rejection. Babies being killed because King Herod wants to kill the baby Jesus or the little child Jesus. As I was preparing this study, I kept thinking of that text in Revelation chapter 12. You know, John, in the Book of Revelation, frames the cosmic battle between heaven and hell. And he says, "The dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her child as soon as it was born." He was the Messiah on the run from the get-go. Satan wanted to destroy the child because it was prophesied this child will be born, grow up, and rule the world and ruin Satan's kingdom. So he's a fugitive Messiah. He's a hunted Messiah. But he's also a despised Messiah.

Verse 19, "But when Herod was dead", boy it's great to read those words, isn't it? Sort of like "ding-dong the witch is dead." "Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt", this boy gets a lot of dreams, "saying, arise. Take the young child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. For those who sought the young child's life are dead. Then he arose, took the child and his mother and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod", he was one of Herod's sons who took the throne, "he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and he dwelled in a city called Nazareth that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he shall be called a Nazarene."

So Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, they're in Egypt. After a while, Herod dies. And it was pretty famous the way he died. Josephus the historian writes this. "He died of ulcerated entrails, putrefied and maggot-filled organs, constant convulsions, foul breath, that neither physicians nor warm baths could heal." I don't know, seems like a fitting death. Because, do you know that the last week before he died and while he was on his death bed, and he died in Jericho, he knew he had a few days left to live. And so he also knew that when he died there would be a party. Everybody's going to sing ding-dong the witch is dead. Everybody hated him. Everybody's going to be so happy because he's dead.

So he gave an order that all of the noble citizens, the notable citizenry of Judea, be arrested and kept in prison so that when he died, they will be executed. And here's his thinking. I want to make sure there are tears shed when I die. And if they won't be for me, at least there will be tears. That's how vicious he was. Now, Joseph probably wanted to go back to Bethlehem. He had been there. And I think, even though he was from Nazareth, I don't think he wanted to go back to Nazareth, do you? Mary got pregnant. She was from Nazareth. Joseph was from Nazareth. Tongues were wagging about an illegitimate child. He wanted a fresh start in Bethlehem. He was probably going to go back there. But the angels said, no. You will go back to Nazareth. And the reason, it says, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of by the prophets. He shall be called a Nazarene."

Now, you know what's wrong with that? You can't find that verse anywhere in the Old Testament. It says the prophets spoke it, he'll be called a Nazarene. But I challenge you, find it in the Old Testament anywhere. You won't be able to. It's not there. So what are we to do with this? How are we to understand this? Well, some see this as a play on words. Because the word Nazareth, the consonants of the word, and Hebrews always write with consonants only. That's how they spell, no vowels, just consonants. The consonants of Nazareth are the same consonants as in natsar, natsar. Sounds like Nazareth. Natsar means a branch.

And Isaiah 11:1 says, "A branch will come out of the steam or the root of Jesse." And that has always been seen as a messianic prophecy, that Jesse, who is the father of David, David became the King, that out of his lineage would arise this branch, this natsar. And so they say that is the fulfillment of this prophecy. Some think that's a little bit sketchy an interpretation. Another possibility is that what he is referring to was a commonly-known, but unrecorded, prophecy. That the prophet, and notice, he didn't say prophet singular, but prophets plural, like there were a lot of prophets that said this. A lot of prophets recorded this because it's put in the plural not singular. So it could be that it was commonly known, but not written down.

Now, that is a possibility because it does happen. Sometimes you find a scripture that isn't written in the Old Testament. Example, in the book of Jude, not "Hey, Jude" the Beatles song, the book of Jude in the Bible, next Revelation, that little book. Jude quotes Enoch in the Old Testament. The problem is you can't find that in the book of Genesis where Enoch said that. But it was common knowledge that he said it. So Jude refers to it. Here's another example. Paul quotes Jesus in Acts 20. He said, "as our own Lord Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than it is to receive." Remember that? He said that's what Jesus said. Problem is, you can't find that in any of the Gospels. He said it. They just didn't write it down. And even John, at the end of his book, said, Jesus said and did a lot of things which are not written in this book. So it's possible that it was common knowledge but it was an unrecorded prophecy.

But then there's a third way to look at it. And I lean in this direction. It is a prediction of rejection. Did you know that Nazareth had long been a term of scorn and derision and mockery? You know, every place, every state, has its town or towns. And I'm not going to mention any here in this state. But I know as I say this, certain towns are coming to your mind. And I'll just let that come to your mind. And it's the towns like yeah, that's just the little, old, crazy, backwards town. Nothing really great comes out of that town. That's podunk central. Nazareth was podunk central.

When Phillip came to Nathaniel and said we have found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Nathaniel said, can anything good come out of Nazareth? And what's interesting about that is Jesus said of Nathaniel, "here's a man in whom there is no guile." So he wasn't given to mockery or put down. He was a good guy. So for the good guy to say can anything good come out of Nazareth, must mean everybody is saying can anything good come out of Nazareth? When Jesus hung on the cross, that's the ultimate rejection. Pilot put a sign over Jesus, this is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. And he was killed. Many prophets, many prophets, predicted Jesus would be scorned, despised, and rejected. Here's a sampling. Isaiah 53, "There is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected by men."

Psalm 22, "I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men and despised by the people. All those who see me ridicule me. They shoot out the lip and they shake the head." Even Moses in Deuteronomy 18 said, "The Lord will raise up a prophet like me from your midst." Do you remember that Moses was rejected the first time he approached the children of Israel to be their deliverer? It wasn't until the second time that he was accepted. Psalm 69 describes the Messiah with the words reproach, shame, dishonor. Zechariah the prophet says, "They will look upon me whom they have pierced", why did they pierce him? Why did they kill him? Why did they crucify him? Because they rejected him.

So when it says it was spoken of by the prophets he will be called a Nazarene, that's a way of saying he will be rejected. And all the prophets said that. By the way, quotation marks are not in the original. They are put in the English translation that way. He will be called a Nazarene. Here's the point. Take your pick of any and all kinds of prophecy, they all point to Jesus Christ. And what the prophecies also show you is that this child was rejected by the world immediately. He was on the run. He was hunted. He came from a nowhere podunk town that nobody cared about. And so he lived a life of rejection. But he was rejected so you could be accepted. He was forsaken so that you would never have to be forsaken.

You want to know something? Nazareth is never mentioned in the Old Testament. Nobody would have known of it. Nobody would care about it unless Jesus grew up there. Never mentioned once. It's never mentioned in the apocrypha. It's never mentioned by Flavius Josephus. It's never mentioned in the Jewish Talmud. I'm sure that all the kids that grew up in Nazareth were bored stiff. I'm sure they thought, get me out of this town. I want to go to Jerusalem and have some action. It's boring here. And yet, the risen Christ spoke of Nazareth from heaven. Did you know that? Paul the Apostle says when he was converted, he saw a light and heard a voice. And he said, who are you, Lord? And the voice said, I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting. You see, what was scorned by men on Earth, was taken to heaven and glorified by Jesus Christ.

I want to close with this thought. There is a principle I called the Nazareth principle. The Nazareth principle is were God, by design, takes out-of-sorts people from out of the way places, and does something awesome with them. This is where we sit up straight and go, oh really? That could be me. And that's what I thought. My life verse, 1 Corinthians chapter 1, "For God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, the weak things of this world that confound the things that are mighty." I want to share that with you in the New Living Translation. I'm going to put it up on the screen so you can follow along with it as I read it.

"Remember, dear brothers", Paul writes, "and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God."

Doesn't matter where you're from. Does not matter where you live. It matters to who you are once Jesus gets a hold of you. That's the Nazareth principal. And Nathaniel says, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Just salvation. Just eternal life. Just the best thing ever can come out of Nazareth. And I would just say, God keeps doing that today by using you and me. You know, if you put a surgeon in a modern operating suite and the surgeon could pull off an operation, well, you probably wouldn't think much about it. You know, your insurance pays for that kind of stuff. And you expect nothing but the best. That's what doctors Do

But take that same doctor, take him to some far out of the way place like Africa or the jungles of South America where there's no operating room, no electricity, no modern tools, and give that doctor a Swiss army knife. If that doctor can perform an operation under those conditions, you would say, that's quite a doctor. And you see that is the point here. The point is, the skill of the worker is more noticeable when confined to inferior tools. And so God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. That's the Nazareth principal.

Lord, we are so grateful that you chose us in Christ before the foundations of the world. We have read and we have considered the fulfillment of prophecy. But there's been this undercurrent that when the cure is given, people keep spitting out the pills, spitting out the pills, spitting out the medicine, not wanting the cure, refusing the cure. But out of Nazareth, out of Egypt, through the wailing and weeping in Rama, a child came who grew up to die for sin, to be raised to new life. And in that power, you choose weak things like us to shine your strength and your glory through. Do it again, Lord. Use us for your purpose so that if anyone says can anything good come out of Albuquerque or Santa Fe or Espanola or Las Cruces or Cedar Crest, we can go, oh yeah. God so many people he has chosen to do his work and perform his will. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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