From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Gospel accounts feature Nazareth

From George Conklin <>
Date 24 May 1996 19:21:31

May 24, 1996
Mennonite Board of Missions
Contact: Tom Price, director of information
Phone: (219) 294-7523

Gospel accounts feature Nazareth
 ELKHART, Ind. (MBM) s "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"   
Nathanael once asked another disciple when learning of Jesus' hometown.   
"Come and see," Philip replied.
 Mennonite Board of Missions and other partners in a new visitors center   
being created in Nazareth hope that Philip's response will be echoed by   
more than 1 million pilgrims annually as the 2000th anniversary of Jesus'   
birth approaches.
 Nazareth, the city where Joseph and Mary lived and the home of Jesus   
until age 30 when he announced his Messiahship, plays a prominent role in   
the Gospel accounts. Jesus' "hometown" (Mark 6:1) was secluded partly in   
the mountains, a dozen miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee.
 "Across the foot of those hills ran a branch of the great trade route,   
and from the hilltop Jesus must have seen all sorts and conditions of men   
posting along the highways. ... News of the wider world must have found   
its way to Nazareth," wrote Archibald M. Hunter, professor of New   
Testament at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, in his book, The Work   
& Words of Jesus. "It was in no place far from the dusty ways of men that   
Jesus grew up, but in surroundings where he must have felt the pressure   
and the problems of the wider world."
 The previous quotation from the Gospel of John of the conversation   
between apostles Nathanael and Philip is among the most famous of the   
Bible's references to Nazareth. But Nazareth also served as the site of   
the Annunciation, the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, a young Jewish   
peasant girl.
 "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you," Gabriel said in the   
account in Luke 1. "You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and   
you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of   
the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his   
ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his   
kingdom there will be no end."
 Mary, puzzled over the visit, replied, "How can this be, since I am a   
virgin?" With God, nothing is impossible, replies the angel s leading   
Mary to add, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me   
according to your word."
 The Church of the Annunciation, which traditionally marks the site of   
Mary's home, was built in Nazareth on the foundation of a church erected   
in the 12th century. A chapel beneath its nave carries the Latin   
inscription, "Here the word was made flesh."
 After Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, the holy family escaped to Egypt,   
eventually returning to Nazareth. By settling there, the family fulfilled   
what was said through the prophets, according to Matthew's gospel: "He   
will be called a Nazarene."
 When they returned to Nazareth, "the child grew and became strong;   
filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him," according to Luke   
 Mary's Well represents perhaps the most authentic site in Nazareth that   
features the holy family. This well for centuries served as Nazareth's   
only source of water. Scholars say Mary probably came here, carrying the   
traditional water jar on her head. Perhaps the child Jesus accompanied   
 When Jesus began to draw attention for his teaching in the synagogues   
around the Galilee region, he returned to the synagogue in Nazareth to   
 "He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to   
him," according to the account in Luke 4. "He unrolled the scroll and   
found the place where it was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,   
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me   
to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,   
to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
 Jesus sat down to teach and told his neighbors, "Today this scripture   
has been fulfilled in your hearing," asserting his claim as the promised   
 He was driven out of the synagogue. Among his last recorded words in   
Nazareth: "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's   
 In Matthew's gospel, the witnesses to Jesus' resurrection receive a   
message, which perhaps has sent pilgrims for centuries to Nazareth: "He   
has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to   
Galilee; there you will see him."
The Bible text is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright   
1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of   
Churches of Christ in the USA, and is used by permission.

Tom Price

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