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Jesus was known as Jesus of Nazareth because He grew up in the town of Nazareth where His family lived and worked. It was common to refer to someone with their name and home town. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but grew up in Nazareth. Nobody actually invented last names, but it came from our need to differentiate between people. As more people had the same first and only name each culture used occupations, where they lived, father's first name or even appearance or disposition to identify people in a crowd. This custom really grew during the Middle Ages when the population grew. Jesus also was know as Jesus the Christ and some Diciples called him Jesus, the Son of God or Jesus the Messiah. I know Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Son of God whom taketh away your sins and only through Him can we have Eternal Life.
Saying that Jesus was from Nazareth is similar to saying someone who is a celebrity is from the South Bronx, East Los Angeles, the South side of Chicago, or here in the Atlanta area, "The Bluff." It is to say 'that person rose to fame, fortune, or international notoriety and celebrity from a place that doesn't have a reputation for being the "right" starting point for success.' We'd say, 'can anything good come out of The Bluff'? The Bluff is where "Little B," (Michael Lewis) a thirteen year old, shot and killed a man who stopped at a convenience store, left his headlights on, was told by Little B to turn them off, and was shot and killed when he ignored the child and left them on. This happened in 1997. The Bluff was, and still is a place where I know to avoid. If a Savior is expected to come and save us from our sins, would we expect that person to come from such a place? That's what coming from Nazareth meant to the locals of that time period. God habitually makes a point of debunking our stereotypes. Why wasn't Abraham referred to by his birthplace? We're told he was from Ur, but he wasn't called by his place of origin. Isaac was born in Canaan, but was never called a Canaanite. Neither were Jacob and Esau who were also born there. Jacob was the beginning of Abraham's descendants being called Israelites, the nation of Israel. Esau is the beginning of Edom, the Edomites. Moses was born in Egypt, but was never called Moses of Egypt. Jesus is nowhere referred to as an Israelite. He's called "the Man from Galilee" in a popular song, but not an Israelite. He was born in Bethlehem, but Jesse, king David's dad, had the Bethlehemite tag sewed up (1 Sam 16:1, 1 Sam 17:58). So "Nazarene" makes the point that God the Father wants to make. He can make something good come from a place where we would least expect it to happen. Those of us who have learned a little bit about the character of the Father, don't expect everything "good" to come from the Hamptons or the Upper East Side. We also know that being from "the Hamptons" or the Upper East Side doesn't preclude a call from God for a great Godly purpose. For the record, the lates Dr Martin Luther King Jr and his wife Coretta Scott King lived in a home at 234 Sunset Ave in "The Bluff." A man who could have earned enough teaching and lecturing at prestigious Universities chose to live a humble life among the people of a troubled community; chose to be a human rights activist. Living in The Bluff didn't cost him his life. Doing God's will did.
There were many Jewish men with the name Jesus (Joshua), so He would be known as “Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 2:22) to differentiate Him from the other Jewish men named Jesus. Peter’s audience knew that Jesus was a real Person from the town of Nazareth and that He had performed many signs and miracles. (On “Jesus of Nazareth,” see Acts 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 6:14; 10:38; 22:8; 26:9; also Acts 24:5.) Warren Wiersbe's book, Be Dynamic (Acts 1-12)
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