Visiting Nazareth

 

 

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Visiting Nazareth

Nazareth was the home village of Mary and also the site of the Annunciation (when Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would have Jesus as her son) as recorded in Luke 1: 26-39). In Matthew 2:19-23, Joseph and Mary resettled in Nazareth after returning from the flight from Bethlehem to Egypt. Nazareth was where Jesus grew up from some point in his childhood.
   Joseph is also from Nazareth.

 LK 2:4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

LK 2:39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

 

 
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Nazareth is known as "the Arab capital of Israel"; the population is made up predominantly of Arab citizens of Israel, almost all of whom are either Muslim (69%) or Christian (30.9%) (source: Wiki)
 
 

The town where Jesus grew up gave him a hard time (Mark 6:1)
 

MK 6:1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
 
    "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! 3 Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
 
    MK 6:4 Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith.


Nazareth was sited on a steep cliff and they tried to throw Jesus over it in response to his first sermon!

  LK 4:28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.


 
Interesting comment about the town in Jesus' time

 JN 1:46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.
    "Come and see," said Philip.


 
Church of the Annunciation in the background

 
Arabs stalls sells souvenirs

Rejection In Nazareth

It is one thing to be rejected by strangers. However rejection by friends, relatives and family members are harder to take. Jesus had a hard time in Nazareth. After his first sermon in his own synagogue, the members tried to kill him by throwing him off the cliff at the edge of the town! Such drastic action in respond to his sermon. And these will be friends, relatives and the townspeople who knew Jesus well. They would have watched him grow up. Joseph’s son he would have been known. And some nasty gossip about his mother being pregnant before the wedding. I wondered how Jesus would have felt. I am sure it would have hurt him badly. But his mission would have sustained him. He quoted “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (Mark 6:4) This quote showed that Jesus is aware of his role as a prophet.
 
Even James, his half brother, did not understand Jesus until after his death and resurrection. James went on to be a leader in the Jerusalem church. Rejection by your own family members! His own brothers, sisters and even his mother at one time thought that he was mad. In Matthew 12:46, his family came to take him home.
 
    MT 12:46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you."
 
Jesus used this as a teaching moment that “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:50). This statement did not meant that he rejected his family but that he used his mission to deal with the heartbreak he must have felt.
 
The betrayal kiss by Judas Iscariot must have hurt terribly. Judas who was such a trusted member of his disciples that they even appointed him to be treasurer. Yet, at the moment of this kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus must have known that his friend had betrayed him to torture, humiliation and death.
 
Being rejected by our own parents, friends, relatives and community is very painful. We will be racked by self doubts. There is also feel a sense of betrayal. Must of all, we would be filled with agony of our rejection. Sometimes it is preferable to be rejected by strangers than by those we love. At such times we often feel lost, nursing our pain and even angry. We despair of ever be understood again. Yet someone does understand. In another garden, God’s creatures rejected their creator. Many years later, these same creatures crucified God incarnate. God’s heart must be broken with pain and sorrow. Yet he still loves us. In the pain of our rejections, let us cling onto him who will never reject us.

 

| 10 December 2012 |

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