Intentional Progress in 2022: Life Lessons From Jesus (Part 44) – Jesus of Nazareth!

by Rick

This morning we continue our journey into this year, focusing on making “Intentional Progress.”  I shared six steps to intentional progress with you, and I will continue to walk through them over the next few months.  Here are the six steps.

Here are the steps again:

1.  Pray/Discern

2.  Plan/Prepare

3.  Wait/Discern God’s Timing

4.  Execute/Measure Progress

5.  Wait/Faith & Patience

6.  Receive When Harvest Time Comes

In this series, we have sought to glean life lessons from Jesus.  We looked at John 5, 6, 8, 12, and 14-18.  We are now in chapter 19.  Let’s pick it up where we left off.

(John 19:19 KJV)  

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

We have learned a great deal thus far in this series. I keep driving home the point that we should live our lives worthy of Jesus’ death. Today we will look at something a little different. I will discuss where Jesus was from. Theoretically, Jesus could have been born anywhere on the planet, but to fulfill prophesy, in our last message, we saw that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and was raised in Nazareth. He would be later commonly referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth” by those who opposed Him.

Nazareth was on the main road between Damascus and Egypt, located in lower Galilee, about halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. Many travelers passed through Nazareth, but not many stopped or stayed. The city did not have much to offer. It was not a coastal town and therefore did not have a fishing industry. It was not at a crossroads and therefore was not a trading town. Nazareth really did not have much at all, so the city did not get many visitors, and that was just fine with the Nazarenes, who were not keen on visitors anyway.  

Scholars tell us that instead of taking their trash to the normal trash dump, many Nazarenes dropped their trash by the side of the main road. This way, when travelers came by, they were repulsed by the smell of the city, and they kept going. Because of this, Nazareth came to be known as the City of Trash. In modern terms, it would be known as a ghetto.

Jesus was called many names and titles throughout His ministry. Jesus was addressed as Master, Lord, Rabbi, Teacher, Son of David, Son of man, Son of God, and Jesus of Nazareth. Today you see churches with the name “Nazareth” or “Nazarene,” but in Jesus’ day, that would not have happened. Those who called Jesus “Jesus of Nazareth” were not paying Him a compliment; it was a reminder that Jesus was from the City of Trash.

So what does this mean for you today?  To find out, we need to go back to our text and look at what Pilate had written over Jesus’ head on the cross: JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. Let’s glean some nuggets from that statement.

1.  The title over Jesus’ head on the cross tells a story.  

JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS tells of the life of Jesus, from one extreme to the other.  

— Jesus came from the lowest of lows to go to the highest of highs.  

— Jesus was raised in Nazareth, a place some called “the City of Trash.” So Jesus can identify with all of us born on the supposed “wrong side of the tracks.”

— Jesus was raised in a very low place, so He could identify with everyone.  He came to reach the thief, adulterer, whoremonger, backbiter, backstabber, and every form of a sinner.  

— While Jesus came from the City of Trash, after His death, He ascended to the City of God.  So He can identify with anyone.

2.  Jesus can identify with you.  

— Whether you were born in the ghetto or a mansion, whether you have never stepped foot in a church or you were raised in the church, whether you feel like you are not worthy, or you are making the mistake of thinking you are, Jesus came for YOU.  Not only that, but Jesus will meet right where you are.  

— Maybe you’re from Brooklyn like me, with a zip code of 11207, or from Beverly Hills like the rich and famous, with a zip code of 90210.  It doesn’t matter.  Jesus came to save you from your sin.  

— You know where you have messed up.  You know all the things you have done that no one else (on the earth anyway) knows about.  You know who you are when no one else is around.  Jesus also knows, and He is willing to reach you right there, right where you are, in order to pick you up and take you higher.  

— Jesus knows everything about you, and nothing about you is keeping Him away.  He loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.  He will reach you where you are, and He will take you to where He destined you to be.

— Hebrews 4:15 teaches us that Jesus is our High Priest, and He can sympathize with our weaknesses.  He came as a man (with an emphasis on being human, not gender), so He knows what it is like to deal with temptation.  He came can as man, so He knows the limits of our humanity.  He left heaven, He stripped Himself of His divinity, and He wrapped Himself up in mere humanity, so He could be the Savior of the whole world.  One man died for all men.  His name is Jesus!

3.  Jesus came for everyone.  

— Our Savior is both Jesus of Nazareth (the lowest of lows) and the King of the Jews (the highest of highs).  

— Jesus came for all people — rich and poor, Black and White, Hispanic and Asian, male and female, educated and non-schooled.  If you are breathing, Jesus came for you.  

— People like to point out the fact that Jesus can identify with those in the lowest of lows.  But Jesus can also identify with those in the highest of highs.  He can reach the poor, but He can also reach the rich.  He can identify with the struggling, but He can also identify with the thriving.

— With Jesus, it does not matter if you are a Private and a General; if you work in the mailroom or the boardroom; if you are the janitor or the CEO; if you fly in coach or first class, or even if you have a private jet.  Jesus is everyone’s Savior.  He died for everyone everywhere!   

— It does not matter what state you consider your life to be in.  You may think you are good.  You may feel like your life is falling apart.  Either way, you need a Savior.  That Savior came, and His name is JESUS!  He will save you from sin, deliver you from the fear of death, fill you with His Spirit, fill your heart with His love, and help fix your feet to the path He established for you before the world began.  He will do all of this simply because He loves you.  It’s all offered to you BY GRACE!

— Grace is a gift.  You cannot work for a gift.  If you tried to work for it, then a gift would no longer be a gift (Romans 11:6).  Eternal life is a gift.  All you can do for a gift is RECEIVE IT!  Jesus died for everyone, and He offers us eternal life as a gift.  All we can do is receive the gift and allow His love to change us forever!

4.  The world cannot define you because the world did not design you.

Pilate tried to define Jesus. The title he had placed over Jesus on the cross was “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.” But neither Pilate nor the Jews could define Jesus becuase they were not the ones who made Him.     

— This world cannot define you because this world did not design you. Your parents can’t even define you. They gave birth to you, but they did not design you.

— You are actually God’s son/daughter. God designed you before the world began. Your true identity is connected to God’s plans for you.

— When you discover your true identity and start walking in it, the people who knew you before (like the people of Jesus’ hometown or the Jewish leaders who fought against Him) may not be able to get past your humanity long enough to accept your divine assignment. Pray for them, but don’t let them stop you. You don’t need the approval of men to accept your divine purpose.

— You must get to the point where you accept the assignment God gave you before the world began, and you get comfortable walking in your calling.  

— Those who called Jesus “Jesus of Nazareth” were actually being derogatory towards Him. But He did not allow their disrespect to stop Him or to cause Him to question His own value. Whether people honor your divine assignment or not, you must. You must accept, embrace and honor the assignment God gave you before the world began. This is the only way to walk in divine purpose.  

— Once you embrace who you are, and you start walking in your divine assignment, knowing that you are called and graced to do it, God will open doors for you that no man can close and close doors for you no that man can open.  

— Even if the people who knew you in the past are struggling to accept your divine assignment now, don’t worry. God will raise up new people to use their power, their ability, their influence, and even their money, to help you in ways you cannot help yourself. That’s favor, and it flows freely when you walk in divine purpose.

— Once you know who you are, it’s only a matter of time before everyone else acknowledges it. But if you don’t know who you are, then you may make the mistake of accepting the labels others put on you! Please don’t let them define you, becuase they did not design you!

Declaration of Faith

Father, I thank You for teaching me about the amazing life of Jesus, Your Son, and my Savior. Jesus could have been born anywhere, but He was born in Bethlehem to fulfill prophecy. Jesus could have been raised anywhere, but He was raised in Nazareth, the City of Trash, in order to identify with the lowest of lows. Your Son was both JESUS OF NAZARETH and THE KING OF THE JEWS. Jesus was raised in the City of Trash, and He was taken back to the City of God. Jesus came for all people, He died for all sin, He was crucified for all mankind, and He was raised from the dead with all power. This very same Jesus lives IN me! Because You are IN me, Lord, I now have the grace to reach all people. You can bless me to become all things to all people so that through me, You can save some. So, Father, I give myself over to You, to be used of You for Your glory, by Your grace. Whether Black or White, Hispanic or Asian, rich or poor, Private or General, male or female, I am ready to reach the world for Jesus. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. I know who I am and whose I am. Therefore, GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper.

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