Nazareth was the home of Jesus during his upbringing. The time here was to make its mark, so that Jesus is known as Jesus of Nazareth and not Jesus of Bethlehem. After his birth in Bethlehem and his sojourn in Egypt, the family was to return here. Nazareth was considered a place of low reputation. Philip was to state: “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46 But he was told to come and see. The selection of such a place was to demonstrate the origins of the success of Jesus’ work. It would clearly demonstrate the power of God to influence men at a time when every avenue was exhausted, and the pillars of humanity could not provide their own champion. In the fullness of time God sent forth his son, made of a woman Gal 4;4; Eph 1:10 Abraham was called from a place of wickedness to display this principle Isa 41:9-11; Josh 24:1-3 and was instructed that when the times of the Amorites were full, that God would intervene for his people Gen 15:16 This was the understanding of Moses on the matter where he would say that Israel was brought into their inheritance not for their righteousness, but for the wickedness of the nations Deut 9:3-6 Paul was later to describe this principle when he turned from preaching to the jews and turn to the gentiles. He was to describe the fulness of Jewish ambition and achievement. They selected a king, and he died an inglorious end. God selected a king then in the time of their wickedness, and promised a hope of life to continue. The nation pursued their own achievement in keeping the law, and when it was fulfilled they killed their own messiah, and their nation would come to an end. But to those who accept grace there is “continuance” Acts 13.
Can there be any prophet come from Galilee? This was not considered the area of prophets! In fact there was one. Jonah was to come from Gath-hepher and Jesus would use his prophecy numerous times within his own message.
Christ was raised in Nazareth to fulfil a prophecy that he would be called a Nazarene Matt 2:22,23. Now this prophecy is interesting in that the word used is to describe a branch (Natzar). The origins of this branch were to be from the root of the cut down tree, Isa 11:1. So at the very time when national Israel was to be cut down as a nation Matt 3:10; Mal 4:1 the spiritual origins of Christ would support a new type of growth. A branch God made strong for Himself Ps 80:15. This was to be described as the branch of righteousness Jer 23:5; 33:15; the display of the operation of God, successful in the very time of organised revolt against him. Zech 3:8 A similar word is Nazar, meaning to be distinguished, and a descriptor of those who take a willing vow of service Num 6 The type of service seen in the high priest who carried on his head the mark of his distinguishment, and on his forehead the manifesto of his service: “holiness to Yahweh” Ex 28:36.
But to be a Nazarene was not only to be place of Jesus. There would be a new order called the “Nazarenes” Acts 24:5. These were those convinced by faith in the same operation of God Col 2:12 and the increase of his fruitful work seen in branches that grow over the wall Gen 49:22; Prov 11:28. The budding of this branch a prophetic picture of the fulness of the life of God revealed in Christ now shared with his brethren Isa 4:2; Rom 11:16-24.
The mount of precipitation is suggested as the place where Christ was marched to a precipice to kill him, Luke 4:16-30. The language used by the master is from the day of atonement where the day of liberty / the year of Jubilee was proclaimed. Quoting from Isa 61 Jesus concludes before reading and the day of vengeance of our Elohim, indicating that there was time for a man to afflict his soul, that is to search personal aspirations and direction. Christ challenges them with examples of faith outside the nation that were accepted by deity, and questions their allegiance to the same faith. The story finishes with the famed Jewish tradition of killing the scapegoat so it cannot return, a blight on the unbounding grace of deity in offering a life represented in the animal. The widow of Zarapheth, and Naaman the Syrian would be accepted and strangers will feed your flocks Isa 61:5. This was a position to be granted the gentiles because of the faithlessness and unbending unacceptance of God’s son by Israel. “Their city” was built on this precipice, an indication of the foundations on which their belief was also built. God would not accept them for their brutal pushing away of the offer of salvation.
Limited archeological findings have been unearthed at Nazareth. Pottery from the middle bronze age (2200-1500BC) until 720BC when destroyed by the Assyrians have been found. (1) The only Hebrew reference to Nazareth was found in a synagogue near Caesarea. (2) One further interesting feature of the Nazareth hill chain is the presence of multiple oaks. It would have no doubt brought memories of Abraham to the Lord. (3)
- 50 Major cities of the bible John Charles Hugh Laughlin pg 193,194
- The Archeology of the new testament, the mediterranean world of the Christian apostles Jack Finegan pg185
- Archeological encyclopaedia of the holy land Avraham Negev pg 549
Things to do at Nazareth:
- visit the mount of precipitation
- get on a bus (#16) and visit Sephoris