19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead” (quote of Exodus 4.19; thus continuing the new Moses motif). 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew’s telling of the Christmas story has had an apologetic bent. He has explained how Jesus is the Son of David, the rightful and true King. He has told how the Gentile nations have come to worship the Messiah and how he was born in Bethlehem according to Scripture. Now he explains how a baby born in Bethlehem ends up in Nazareth. First, it wasn’t safe due to the political circumstances—Archelaus was just as dangerous as Herod. Second, Joseph was warned in a dream; thus, we again find that the family’s move is the result of God’s guidance and preservation of his son.
However no Old Testament passage speaks of a Messiah that would “be called a Nazarene.” There are several different explanations for Matthew’s inclusion of this “promise,” but only one seems convincing to me. Being called a Nazarene was not a favorable expression; after all, Nazareth was a small hick-town (see John 1.46). And this is the reason that Matthew includes it here, because according to Scripture the Messiah was to come out of obscurity only to be exalted by God (France, Matthew, 94-95). Old Testament texts repeatedly speak of a Messiah that would go unrecognized, un-respected, and ultimately rejected by his people, most notably Isaiah 53 (please read).
This is our God.