Following the Paths of Jesus: Nazareth

Nazareth was the hometown of Jesus and the city where he was not welcomed by his own countrymen.

nazareth church 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press [file])
nazareth church 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
In the hill country just above the Jezreel Valley, the largest city in the northern district of Israel, Nazareth, was once the hometown of Jesus. Before Jesus was born the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, the mother of Jesus and a descendant of King David, and told her she was going to bear the promised Messiah, the Son of God (Luke 1:26-35). Today, dominating the skyline a two-story basilica, the Church of the Annunciation, marks the traditional place where Gabriel appeared to Mary. The edifice stands over the original Byzantine structure, which was constructed in the middle of the 4th century. Jesus grew up in Nazareth with his mother and father, Joseph, who was a carpenter. He attended synagogue, studied the Torah and the Prophets and made his yearly pilgrimages to Jerusalem during the Jewish feasts. During Jesus' ministry he later returned to Nazareth where he stood up in the synagogue to read. He read the following portion from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable years of the Lord." He then said "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Shocked by his words, he soon underwent grave persecution. The Nazarenes threatened to throw him off of a cliff. Jesus said, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household (Matthew 13:57). Throughout the centuries Nazareth maintained an uninterrupted Christian presence. The former isolated unwalled town of a mere 150 residents has now become the home to more than 65,000 Israeli-Arabs, 31.3 percent of whom are Christians and 68.7% of whom are Muslims. Another 40,000 Jews live in Nazareth Illit, just east of Nazareth. Nazareth is the political and administrative capital of the Galilee. Previous entries: Following the paths of Jesus: Bethlehem