马太福音2:21 约瑟就起来，把小孩子和他母亲带到以色列地去；22 只因听见亚基老接着他父亲希律作了犹太王，就怕往那里去，又在梦中被主指示，便往加利利境内去了，23 到了一座城，名叫拿撒勒，就住在那里。这是要应验先知所说，他将称为拿撒勒人的话了。
拿撒勒（Nazareth）是加利利（Galilee）地区的小镇，这里没有什么出名的。拿但业（Nathaniel）对腓力（Philip）说：“拿撒勒能出什么好的吗？”就像是在说：“我的家乡爱克索尼亚（Exonia）有什么好处？”唯一来自艾克森尼亚（Ixonia）的真正有名的人物是约翰（John）“ Commodore” Lewis，有史以来最矮的男人。但是我敢打赌，你也不知道吗？
Matthew 2:21-23: So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Nazareth is an off the beaten path town in Galilee that was not famous for having anyone famous coming from there. Nathaniel told Philip, “What good can come out of Nazareth?” It’s kind of like saying, “What good ever came out of Ixonia [my hometown]?” The only really famous person that came from Ixonia was John “Commodore” Lewis, the shortest man that ever lived. But I bet you didn’t know that, either, did you?
That’s not true of Nazareth anymore. The MOST famous person who ever lived grew up in that small town. But where does the prophecy that Matthew refers to come from? Some think it is from Isaiah 9:1, where the Messiah is called the “branch.” “Branch” in Hebrew is “netzer”, which is close to Nazarene. However, Matthew said “the prophets.” The more likely connection is that many of the prophets point to the humble circumstances of the Christ and that coming from Nazareth is one of those humble circumstances that surround the birth and life of our Savior. Matthew makes the reference to it as a connection that people in his day would recognize.
What does it mean for us? Paul said that Jesus took for himself the form of a servant and humble himself, even to death on a cross. This nobody from a nobody town is the most important person who ever lived. He is not just an historical figure that few people even know about, but the person in whom we believe for eternal life.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you chose to come into this world, not to make a name for yourself, but to glorify your Father in heaven. You came not to live in luxury but in poverty so that through you, we might become rich in the best way. You came to humble yourself and become a servant, so that we might become kings and priests. For this, let your name be praised forever and ever. Amen.
马太福音3:1 那时，有施洗的约翰出来，在犹太的旷野传道，说：2 「天国近了，你们应当悔改！」3 这人就是先知以赛亚所说的。他说：「在旷野有人声喊着说：预备主的道，修直他的路！」4 这约翰身穿骆驼毛的衣服，腰束皮带，吃的是蝗虫、野蜜。5 那时，耶路撒冷和犹太全地，并约旦河一带地方的人，都出去到约翰那里，6 承认他们的罪，在约旦河里受他的洗。
Matthew 3:1-6: In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” 4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
Luther’s catechism says, “Confession has two parts. The one is that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution or forgiveness from the pastor as from God himself, not doubting but firmly believing that our sins are thus forgiven before God in heaven.” I appreciate that we start every worship service is confession and absolution. But do we take the opportunity to make personal confession for the sins that trouble us? Do we feel comfortable doing that with your pastor? And if you are a pastor, to whom do you confess your sins?
I think we picture John the Baptist as a fire and brimstone preacher with his wild clothes and wild hair breathing out threats of the law in his sermons. But if that was the case, why were people flocking out to the wilderness (which is really a true wilderness around Jerusalem!) and confessing their sins to John? John must have had a real pastoral side to him as well. He understood human nature and the burden of sin in people’s lives. He not only preached the law, but the sweet gospel of forgiveness and baptism to wash away their sins.
I hope that I am that kind of pastor, but then, I don’t see troubled people knocking at my door that often. Maybe that’s just part of our culture. Keep your sins to yourself. Don’t bare your soul. That’s sad, because David said, “I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord, and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Don’t hide it. Don’t stuff it. Don’t be afraid to lay your sins at the foot of the cross and in the ears of a fellow Christian who will says, “Jesus has forgiven your sin.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am never afraid to bare my soul to you and confess to you my worst and most egregious sins. I know that you will always forgive me, because you promised to do so. Renew me every day in the waters of my baptism and sustain the new life you have created in me. And when my sin becomes such a burden that I cannot bear it, then give me courage to find a fellow believer who can hear my confession and absolve me in your name. Amen.