GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH
PO Box 2830 McDonough, Ga. 30253-1777
10452 Fitzgerald Rd., Jonesboro, Ga. 30238
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JESUS OF NAZARETH
John 1:43 ¶ The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
The term, “Jesus of Nazareth” is listed eighteen times on our King James Bibles. The term “Jesus of Galilee” is only found once. But the term, “Jesus of Bethlehem” does not appear one single time. And here are verses to reveal how the Lord describes himself: Acts 22:7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. The Lord describes himself as “Jesus of Nazareth.”
So what about Bethlehem? Since the Lord would identify himself as “Jesus of Nazareth,” what are we to make of Bethlehem?
We have some clue in his encounter with Nicodemus as recorded in John chapter three. For there he put the emphasis upon the new birth, only using the natural birth as an example. For that is exactly how all physical things are to be viewed. Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
And consider this passage concerning the true identity of Christ and all born again believers. 2 Corinthians 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
We are authorized to remember his death by the institution of His Supper. Luke 22:19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. But we are no where in the scriptures authorized to remember his birth by any ordinance. But my! Have we not gone way overboard with Cantatas, plays, ceremonies, with plants and trees brought into our, supposed-to-be, houses of worship? And we have brought Santa Claus (Saint Nicolas) to sit beside Baby Jesus in our hearts and minds! What idolatry!
Therefore we can begin to see that he would have our minds be upon “Jesus of Nazareth,” and not “Jesus of Bethlehem.” In that 2 Corinthians 5:16 verse, listed above, we are clearly instructed that we can no more know Christ “after the flesh.” And we are forbidden to make any image that we think represents God! Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Therefore as Bethlehem concerns itself with the physical appearance of the Lord, and we are told to “remember” his death, but not his birth, in not one instance do we find the words ”Jesus of Bethlehem.” Listen to Christ’s own words revealing to us the purpose of his Incarnation. John 12:27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.
What was on the Eternal Son of God’s mind as he entered into the embryo formed by the Holy Spirit in the virgin’s womb? Hear him in this Hebrew’s passage: Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, (covenant of the law), that he may establish the second (covenant of grace).
It is very clear from these passages that He placed the emphasis of his mission upon his death and not upon his birth!
Therefore in the event recorded in the third chapter of the Book of John he presented to Nicodemus, who was highly educated in the Scriptures, and a religious ruler of the Jews, the concept of the spiritual birth, set forth by the natural birth. He attempted to take him from the physical birth to see the greater importance of the spiritual birth; being born again by the Holy Spirit. Hence we see that the natural birth, depicted by Bethlehem fades off the pages of the scriptures, the remainder of which concern themselves with regeneration of the soul, by Christ’s death!
1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (‘an atoning sacrifice’), for our sins.
Then what is the value of Bethlehem? It was to show the absolute sovereignty of Almighty God! A virgin is to have a son without an adult male being involved. For God produced humans in four ways. He made Adam without the aid of a woman. He made Eve with the aid of the male, but without the aid of a female. Cain and Abel were made with the aid of both the male and female. And the Humanity of the Eternal Son of God was made with the aid of a female, but without the aid of a male!
Also in Revelation twelve we read that Satan intended at the very outset to devour the son which Mary birthed. Revelation 12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. But although Herod could destroy every child under the age of two years, God sovereignly kept him from getting at the one child whom he desired to kill above all others! Matthew 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
All he had to do was go with the wise men who had a heavenly GPS unit in the star!But neither he nor the Jews, who provided Herod with Micah 5:2 which gave the location of his birth, had it cross their minds to go with the wise men. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
For the Lord God who controls the thoughts of man’s hearts would not allow the thought of going with the wise men to enter into their heads. Proverbs 16:1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.
And how could poor Mary and Joseph afford to take the Lord Jesus down to Egypt to avoid Herod’s slaughter? It was by the rich gifts which the wise men brought to the newborn king! Matthew 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Bethlehem was also a matter of the shepherds. Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
But why lowly shepherds? Because these are the kinds of people the Lord fills his kingdom with! 1 Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. Luke 14:23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
And Bethlehem was also important due to Christ being the “son of David!” Luke 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; Ruth the Moabites, who came to Bethlehem with Naomi was King David’s great-grandmother!
Ruth 4:11 And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: 17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. 21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, 22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
But it was from Nazareth where the glorious light of the gospel went forth! Matthew 4:12 ¶ Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Therefore in the naming of his towns, the emphasis is placed by the Holy Spirit concerning his death and not his birth. Although Bethlehem is not omitted, being necessary to reveal the sovereignty of God in bringing forth the Incarnation. Yet Nazareth was of far different importance in the launching forth of God the Son into all the world for the glorious gospel! Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
The gospel emphasis is placed on his resurrection, not just on his Incarnation! Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
John 14:19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
Pastor Gene Breed
December 25, 2021