The Christmas Planting
Scripture Reading — Matthew 2:13-23; Ezekiel 17:22-24
"He will be called a Nazarene."
According to statistics, 8.4 million people in the world today have fled their own countries because of persecution. Jesus would relate to these millions, for he was once a refuge too. Under cover of darkness, Jesus' parents fled with him from Bethlehem to avoid the murderous inclinations of a paranoid king. And although Joseph intended to return to Judea, a dream directed him to Galilee. So Jesus grew up in a small town called Nazareth in that region.
Does Jesus' identity as a "Nazarene" discount his identity as the Son of David? Hardly. Nazareth brings to mind the Hebrew word nezer, which means "branch." Jesus' new hometown testifies to Isaiah 11:1: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."
I have a vine that I planted 20 years ago. Even though I moved it to three different locations, it never flowered. So several years ago, I cut that vine down. But while I gave up on the vine, that vine didn't give up. It still sprouts every year-more vigorous than before.
David's family tree had likewise been cut down. It seemed dead, unable to fulfill its true purpose. But then a shoot came forth from the stump. And from that shoot would grow a tree so great that birds of the air would come and build nests in its branches!
Lord Jesus, we are as much in need of a home as you were. Help us find our shelter and security in you. In the shade of the branches of your kingdom, may we find rest. Amen.