“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 5:7-10 NIV
For some I suppose, this is describing His experience in Gethsemane when He was in such anguish He sweat drops of blood. I believe it is more about His entire life on earth while living in Nazareth and of course, Gathsemane.
Let’s see if we can get an idea of what life was like in Nazareth.
“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.””
John 1:43-47 NIV
Nathanael expresses an interesting thought about Nazareth, doesn’t he? Phillip doesn’t question Nathanael’s response, he just tells him to come and meet Jesus for himself. Jesus says Nathanael is a man in whom there is no guile. I wonder if that means his assessment of the little town Jesus grew up in is fairly accurate. Whatever, the town has a reputation it seems. Over time, to be known as a Nazarene was a term of reproach it is said.
“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,”
Luke 2:4 NKJV
According to Luke 2:4, we see Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth, and:
“After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 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.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 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, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew 2:19-23 NIV
It appears Joseph didn’t want to go back to Nazareth. His preference was somewhere in Judea. But circumstances created a situation where he had to return to Nazareth instead. And as a result, the prophecy about Jesus being called a Nazarene was fulfilled.
When Joseph and Mary got back to Nazareth, I would say they had to start from scratch. They had been gone for some time now and life in Nazareth went on without them. They were having to start all over and get a cash flow going. I’m sure it was a difficult time. I’m not sure how much work there was for a carpenter like Joseph. And anyone can tell you, it’s a competitive and complicated trade. Times were tough.
When Jesus returned to Nazareth after the start of His ministry, listen to what happened:
““Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 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 off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”
Luke 4:24-30 NIV
You get the impression these folks here in Nazareth weren’t very godly. I mean after all, a widow from Sidon and Naaman, the leprous Commander of a pagan army that were the enemies of Israel seemed to have more standing with God than the people of Nazareth! The fact that they went into a rage and attempted to murder Him by throwing Him off a cliff says allot about the character of this community, doesn’t it? I think it’s pretty fair to say they validated Nathaniel’s opinion of Nazareth!
In part 4, we’ll look at some prophecies concerning Jesus and see if we can draw some conclusions concerning His humility while living there as an ordinary citizen. And hopefully get some insight into what “The Mind of Christ” is.
To be continued…