The Prophet of Nazareth

“And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” ~ Matthew 21:10-11

Many titles were given to Christ in the scriptures, but the title in our text was not expected to be among them —“The prophet of Nazareth.” Christ showed up at a Jewish feast once and there was a stir among the people. Some said that he was the Christ and others doubted saying, “Shall Christ come out of Galilee?” The Pharisees gave their judgment to Nicodemas. They said, “Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” Even Nathanael wondered at the testimony of Phillip when he claimed that they had found Messiah and he spoke of Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael questioned, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?”

The very title “The prophet of Nazareth” seems to strike a dissonant chord. The words do not seem to go together. Pomp and grandeur did not surround Jesus. Nor was he celebrated by the day’s dignities. Certainly, the life of the Lord here on earth was humble. He came from a place of no reputation. He came from a family of no reputation. Of a truth, Christ humbled himself and made himself of “no reputation.” This title identifies Christ to us in His humanity and humility. Nazareth was not highly esteemed among the people. Nevertheless, God raised up the greatest prophet from the humble shores of Galilee.

As we look back through the Old Testament, we realize that most of the prophets came from places of no real distinction. Consider Elijah the Tishbite. He just appeared on the scene in the book of Kings. He showed up and stood before the king. He was from the country of Gilead, a stony, rocky country village. The people there were laboring, working people. He certainly did not come from the highest classes and ranks of society. This holds for other prophets as well.

I wish to consider Christ as the Prophet of Nazareth. I want to bring to mind some of the ways in which he did the work of a prophet. I shall endeavor firstly to show Christ as a teacher. Secondly, I shall view him as a foreteller. Lastly, I will consider him as a miracle worker.


CHRIST WAS A TEACHER


One of the primary duties of God’s prophets was to teach. They were responsible to bring God’s words to the people. Many godly men had served as prophets. The Jews were very familiar with them. However, the Prophet of Nazareth excelled them all as a teacher.Jesus had the true heart of a teacher. From the very outset of His public ministry, we find Him teaching. The Bible tells us that after the time of His temptation, He went everywhere preaching repentance and the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:17). Early in His ministry, Matthew chapter five, He gave the great Sermon on the Mount. There were multitudes of people and He had compassion on them and taught them.

On one occasion, He was deeply moved, seeing the multitude as sheep not having a Shepherd. His heart was moved with empathy. He really felt with them and for them and wanted to teach them. This was clearly manifest at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He beheld the city and wept over it saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). He said their destruction had come upon them because they knew not the day of their visitation. The Messiah, who they all professed to be looking for, was among them and they knew it not.

Christ also taught all things. The prophets spoke as God spoke to them. They were working with a limited knowledge and understanding. The Word of God came in the Old Testament in “several parts” or “piecemeal.” However, Christ Himself was the full or complete revelation from God. He had no such limitations of finite understanding or feeble capacity. He taught all things that the Father had given him. “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: even as the Father said unto me, so I speak” (John 12:49-50). He made known all things that he had heard of the Father. I believe he did not hold back anything that was profitable.

All things that he spoke were truth and grace. The ‘all things’ He taught, included the good things from God. There are many things in the world that could be taught, that are of no real value. It is vain for us to waste our time with useless knowledge. Christ was not a teacher of vain things. He taught necessary things and the disciples did cleave unto him testifying, “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Whom more could we want than Christ as our teacher? Can any add unto the revelation given by Christ? Truly, God “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.”

Jesus also taught with authority. A prophet could not take the honor unto himself, much like the priest. A prophet that made himself a prophet was a false prophet. God did not own any prophet that he did not send. He professed, “I have not sent them.” Nicodemas spoke truth when he proclaimed, “We know that thou art a teacher come from God.” Christ testified that the Father had sent him. God spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son: hear him.” God sent Christ. He came with the all authority and He reiterated his possession of authority when he said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

His authority was reflected in his discourses. The best teacher is one that has an experimental knowledge of his subject. The teacher that not only is thoroughly acquainted with his material but also has handled, tasted, felt etc. of the issue can provide the greatest insight. When he taught people, they “were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” He was not as the Scribes, just reading to them nor quoting long lists of past scholars. He did not deliver a dull recitation or dry lecture. He taught that that he did know and truly held in hand and taught it by the authority of God.

The officers that had been sent by the Pharisees to take Jesus, testified, “Never man spake like this man.” He unfolded the Word of God with unrivaled pathos. With eyes as flames of fire, he delivered addresses that spoke to the heart. He appeared to the two on the way to Emmaus and expounded the Old Testament in all things concerning himself. They later declared that their hearts did “burn” within them while he talked and opened the scriptures. Without a doubt, he was the greatest preacher and a prophet without an equal.

The brevity of His teaching also reveals His authority. Many of His sermons and parables are short, concise and to the point. One reason we know the Bible has come from God is that man could have never written all of those things in that short of a book. How many books have been written about the Bible? Volumes upon volumes whether they are true or not, have been written about the Holy Word. Of a truth Solomon declared, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

Consider how Christ called His disciples. He appeared to them and said, “Follow me.” Now that is brief. However, we read that after He had spoken, they “straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:20). Now that is power! What kind of Teacher is possessed of that sort of power over men? He was so brief and powerful because of all that He was and the authority He possessed. Christ did not fill His messages with vain ramblings. He was not trying to impress anyone with an arrogant show of knowledge. He wanted to help and instruct the people.

Grace did drop from his lips as He spoke words in season. Solomon proclaimed, “A word spoken in due season, how good is it!” Every teacher should desire to speak fitting words, not words that tickle the ears but that minister grace. A teacher desires to reach everyone. However, they have a special desire to reach those in the most need. Christ was such a teacher. He knows “how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” He preached and “The people which sat in darkness saw great light.” He spoke words of life and truth. He knew the thoughts and intents of the heart and could speak directly to the innermost part of man. He did not waste anyone’s time with flowery speech displaying his ability. Rather, his speech was “alway with grace, seasoned with salt.”

We should not take up our time in simple vain conversation with others. We should make good use of that time, saying something profitable to them. We should desire to speak a word in season, to be able to talk to a sinner that is lost in his sin and declare the gospel to them. We should seek to be used of God to speak a word to that one that might be used of God to bring that soul out of darkness into His marvelous light. We should desire to be able to speak to a Christian brother or sister that is distressed and lift them up. We need to help them bear their infirmities. We should weep with them that weep; rejoice with them that rejoice. Christ was a teacher that spoke fitting words in season that ministered grace to His hearers.


CHRIST PROPHETICALLY FORETOLD MANY EVENTS


Prophets were expected to be seers. They were often consulted concerning matters in the future. Jonah worried that he would be seen as a false prophet after he prophesied the destruction of Nineveh and God spared the city. Christ also engaged in this work of a prophet.

He foretold of His own death and resurrection. Christ knew for what hour He had come into the world. While He ministered among His disciples, He made known that He would “be slain, and be raised the third day.” This milestone was ever before Him as He labored. He made known His power and purpose. He declared He would lay down His life and “take it again.” He predicted that He would “suffer many things.” He knew the violence that He would meet with. He would suffer mocking, reviling, scourging, and crucifixion. He testified, “Even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” He knew what that cup was that He was to drink.

The Lord testified when He set forth His supper, “This is my body, which is broken for you” (1 Corinthians 11:24). That day had not yet come, but He was telling His disciples that He was about to go to the cross of Calvary. He also said, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). He told His disciples that His blood was about to be shed. He had a full realization of His future sufferings.

Despite His knowledge of future things, He would not be moved off His course. Satan put it in Peter’s heart to tempt the Lord. When He foretold of His death, Peter rebuked Him and said, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Christ reproved His tempter saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23). Jesus fulfilled the purpose of the Father in His death.

He described the destruction of Jerusalem beforehand. As Christ was coming from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, He “beheld the city, and wept over it.” He was considering the awful destruction that was forthcoming. He could see the men, women, and children being brutally slain. He considered that the city would be laid waste. He described the enemies compassing them and digging a trench around them. He spoke of destruction so great that there would not be left “one stone upon another.”

In 70 AD, the city of Jerusalem was besieged and overthrown, just as Christ had foretold. Josephus wrote that after Titus had finished, it looked as if a city had never been there. Men, women, and children were put to the sword. He said that everywhere you looked; Jews had been crucified on crosses. The Jews had brought this destruction on themselves when they rejected Christ and cried, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). Their sins visited them that day. Christ had foretold all of these events with great accuracy.

When Christ contemplated this large-scale destruction, He was moved with compassion. He certainly excelled the prophet Jonah, who was angry when destruction did not come to Nineveh. Christ wept as He foresaw them being utterly destroyed because they knew not the time of their “visitation.”

Jesus also spoke of His ascension and return. Christ longed to be reunited with the Father. His heart panted for the glory that they had “before the world was.” He saw this day in the distance and prophesied concerning it. He intimated, “Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.” Christ plainly taught that He would return to the Father that had sent Him. In that precious discourse of John chapter 14, He comforted the disciples saying, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

At another time, He proclaimed, “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come” (John 7:34). The Jews wondered what He was going to do with Himself. They supposed He might be speaking of suicide. However, Christ was here speaking of His ascension to the Father.

The prophet of Nazareth taught of His ascension and of His return to the earth. He had told His disciples, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Christ promised that He would ascend and that He would come back. His ascension was fulfilled and so shall His return be. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The saints that are alive shall see Him come just as those disciples saw Him go in the book of Acts. “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you in to heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Some of the prophecies of Christ have not yet been fulfilled, but “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).


CHRIST PERFORMED MANY SIGNS AND WONDERS


The prophets often worked miracles that were a confirmation of their being sent by God. Moses performed signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. He parted the Red Sea. He fetched water from the rock in the wilderness. In keeping with the office of the prophet, Christ worked miracles during His earthly ministry.

He worked many natural wonders. Some of the Old Testament prophets worked natural wonders. Isaiah caused the sun to turn back ten degrees on the sundial. Elijah prayed and shut up the heavens for three years and it did not rain at all the whole time. He prayed again and the rains came upon the earth. These were natural wonders and Christ did many of the same.

In Cana of Galilee, He attended a marriage feast. When the supply of wine ran out, they came to Him. He took water and turned it into wine. The ruler of the feast was well pleased with the result, believing the bridegroom had “kept the good wine” back until the end of the feast.

Once He was on a ship and there was a great storm that was so fierce, the disciples feared for their lives. They went down and woke Him up. He was sleeping in the bottom of the boat. They said “Master, carest thou not that we perish” (Mark 4:38). They thought it was over for them. The Lord Jesus came up and said, “O ye of little faith” (Matthew 8:26). He spoke, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39), and immediately the wind died and the water was completely calm. People stood by, marveled, and said, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41). He had such command of the wind and water, that at His rebuke, they hushed their roaring.

He also did wonders in healing the sick. Some of the old prophets did acts of physical healing. However, the Lord Jesus Christ did more healing than any other prophet in Scripture did. He was the Divine Healer, the Great Physician. He seemed to be moved at the sight of human suffering. He often did what He could to relieve the afflicted.

There was a blind man that came to Him who had been blind from birth. The Lord restored His sight unto him. The Pharisees, later, took the blind man aside and questioned him about the Lord. They wanted to know who He was and they were asking him about Old Testament prophecies, etc. I love the testimony of the blind man to the Pharisees. They were asking all of these deep questions seeking to wrangle with him about doctrine. The blind man gave a plain and profound statement of his experience with Christ. He said, “Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25).

The Pharisees did not know what to make of the blind man’s powerful testimony, so they brought his parents in and asked them. His parents responded simply, “He is of age; ask him.” The Pharisees hoped to discredit Jesus, but rather the healing of this blind man was a testimony to the power and legitimacy of Christ. He had been blind from his birth but now he saw clearly. Christ taught that this blindness was given him that the glory of God might be revealed in Him. The disciples said, “who did sin, this man, or his parents” Christ answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:2-3). In healing physical afflictions, Jesus gave evidence of being the Christ of God.

He also cast devils or unclean spirits. In the country of the Gadarenes, he cast devils out and sent those evil spirits into a herd of swine. All the swine went down the mountain, plunged into the ocean, and perished. The people there came and besought Him to leave. He was costing them too much money. Those people were more concerned about losing their herd of swine, than they were about the one that had been healed and cleansed from an evil spirit that had possessed him.

The demoniac man, Legion, walked around in the tombs. He did not wear any clothes. The people had tried to put chains on him and they could not bind him. He broke them off. All men were afraid of him, but when the Lord Jesus Christ passed by, the disciples came back and that one that had been possessed of the Devil, they found him clothed and in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus. They marveled at the Lord Jesus.

The Pharisees mocked him, saying he cast out devils in the power of the prince of devils but the Lord Jesus did it through His own power, the power of God. Those devils knew who He was. “And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). Even in the time of the Apostles, the unclean spirit there testified, “Jesus I know” (Acts 19:15). There are other confessions, as well, of devils in the Scripture of knowledge of Christ. James told us, “The devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). He has power to command the unclean spirits.

He also raised the dead back to life. Probably the greatest miracle in the Scriptures is the raising of a dead person to life. I cannot comprehend such a thing. There were some prophets in the Old Testament that raised the dead. Elijah raised the dead. Elisha raised a dead person. There was once a man that had been killed and was thrown down into a pit. The prophet’s bones were in that pit and the dead man’s body simply touched those bones and came back to life.

However, none raised the dead like the Lord Jesus Christ. It has been observed that the Lord broke up every funeral He went to while on the earth. He never attended a funeral that He did not bring the dead person back to life. We think of the widow woman in the funeral procession. Jesus came and raised her dead son. There was a time that a man’s daughter had died and was laying in the house and everyone was standing by lamenting. When the Lord Jesus Christ arrived, He said, “She is not dead, but sleepeth” (Luke 8:52). Everyone laughed Him to scorn but He went in and took her by the hand and she sat up and received her life again.

Remember Lazarus, how that the Lord loved him and his sisters, and the Lord showed up after Lazarus died and his sisters were overcome with grief. Many of the Jews around were shedding tears and overcome with grief. Martha said to Him, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21). She said, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24), but she believed his life on earth was over. Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25). Jesus stood before the tomb and said, “Lazarus, come forth” and he “that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes” (John 11:44). Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44). After four days of lying in the tomb, his life returned. Christ raised the dead.

The last miracle that Christ did was the greatest. There was never yet a man that himself rose from the dead. There were a few that the prophets had raised; Christ raised many others but Christ Himself was in the tomb and Christ Himself came forth. There was none there that day that called out, “Christ, come forth,” but Christ Himself came forth. He said, “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). Solomon said, “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit” (Ecclesiastes 8:8), but Christ did.


CONCLUSION


Christ was truly the prophet of Nazareth and the greatest prophet because He rose from the grave. When the disciples came out the angels said “He is not here: for he is risen” (Matthew 28:6). He rose from the dead Himself, something that had never been done. Something that will never be done again but the Lord Jesus Christ did it because He is God and because He truly was the prophet of Nazareth.

About Jeff Short