Prophetic Name Of Jesus-The Branch
Our English Bible translates three Hebrew words “branch” as a name or title of Jesus. The first word, tsemach, literally refers to a green shoot or sprout growing out of an old stump. A similar word, netser, was used of a small, fresh green twig. A third word, translated “rod” in Isaiah 11:1, was choter, this refers to a shoot growing out of a cut-down stump. These three words describe Jesus as “the Branch.” This title of Christ had both positive and negative connotations. A puzzling verse in Matthew refers to an Old Testament prophecy to the effect, “He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23). To be called a Nazarene by those living outside Nazareth was insulting, for the town had a reputation as the city of garbage. Even one of Jesus' first disciples asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
But the puzzling thing about this verse is that no verse in the Old Testament identifies Nazareth as the home of the Messiah. Most commentators argue that Matthew was here alluding to one of the Branch prophecies, having noted the similarity of sound between netser and Nazareth. Isaiah did use the word netzer in a negative sense when he said of the king of Babylon, “But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch” (Isaiah 14:19). Here the word describes a useless shoot cut off a tree and left to rot. Although Isaiah's use of the word in this context does not specifically refer to Christ, it does demonstrate how Matthew could have understood a Branch prophecy to imply that Jesus would have to live with the reputation of being a Nazarene. Positively, these words for “Branch” are used in four ways corresponding to the four Gospels in the New Testament. First, Christ is the King Branch. This corresponds to the Gospel of Matthew, which emphasizes the life of Christ as the King of the Jews. Jeremiah noted, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” (Jeremiah 23:5).
This title specifically applies to the coming kingdom of God during the millennial reign of Christ. Jesus is also spoken of as a Servant Branch. This corresponds to the Gospel of Mark, which portrays Jesus as the Servant of the Lord. The prophet Zechariah announced, “Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant, the BRANCH” (Zechariah 3:8). Jesus was not only a king but a servant. Several passages in Isaiah more fully describe this One who is the Servant of Jehovah. This Branch is described as a man. This corresponds to the unique emphasis of the Gospel of Luke, which eighty times refers to Jesus as the Son of man. Again, it was the prophet Zechariah who announced this aspect of the Branch. “And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord” (Zechariah 6:12).
The final aspect of the Branch is that the Lord Himself is the Branch. This corresponds to the emphasis of the Gospel of John, which begins with a statement as to the deity of Jesus the Word. “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for those who are escaped of Israel” (Isaiah 4:2). Again, this name specifically applies to the millennial reign of Christ still to come.