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Jesus didn’t have to leave Nazareth. He could have set himself up in a comfortable little bachelor pad, expanded his carpentry business, and found himself a wife (maybe even that hottie, Mary Magdalene). He could have had ten kids and sprouted a beer belly. He could have taken his place at the head of his family after the death of his father, growing more and more distinguished with age. He could have died a respected and revered elder of the Nazarene synagogue community.
He could have done all these things, but he chose not to.
It was a choice to do God’s will and become the Messiah. It wasn’t “predestination” or a foregone conclusion. It was a choice.
By faith, Jesus knew God’s will, and he did it. He didn’t have to leave Nazareth, but it was God’s will that he leave, so he did.
Leaving Nazareth was not a decision based on comfort. It was not comfortable for Jesus to come out as the Messiah. He left his comfort zone behind the day he performed his first public miracle. From then on, he was a marked man.
It’s not comfortable to live with a price on your head.
It wasn’t comfortable to fast for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. It wasn’t comfortable to live as an itinerant preacher. It wasn’t comfortable to sleep on the ground, night after night, or to go without meals. It wasn’t comfortable, as a believer, to be constantly surrounded by people who either didn’t believe or didn’t believe enough.
If there was any comfort in Jesus’ life during his earthly ministry, it was solely in prayer with his Father. Jesus knew his life as the Messiah would be uncomfortable, but he chose to do God’s will anyway. Jesus knew he’d be an outcast (even from his family and friends) and a target for extermination, but he chose to do God’s will anyway.
The life of the world is all about comfort. Jesus could have stayed in Nazareth and lived that life. But he couldn’t stay in Nazareth and do God’s will at the same time.
Neither can you.
We all have our own personal Nazareth. We have a life that we can live quite comfortably, thank-you-very-much, all the while knowing in the back of our mind that it is not God’s will for us. We can live our comfortable life quietly, quietly, making do with the crumbs from other people’s blessings and trying not to see the sadness in God’s eyes when he looks at us and thinks about how much more he could have given us, if we’d only been willing to step outside our comfort zone and leave Nazareth.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see sadness in God’s eyes when he looks at me. I want my Heavenly Dad to look at me and say (like he said about Jesus): “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” I don’t want to forgo the forever pleasures of Heaven for some fleeting earthly comfort.
If you’re born again, there comes a time when you must choose whether or not to leave Nazareth. No-one can tell you to go or not to go, not even God. The choice is entirely yours. However, leaving Nazareth IS the right choice, even if it means embracing a life of discomfort, poverty, ridicule, harassment, rejection and even murder at the hands of God’s enemies.
Leaving Nazareth means leaving the world behind but drawing closer and closer to God.
There are very few things that I know for sure, but one of them is this: There is no greater comfort in Heaven or on Earth than being as close as you can to God.