Glimpses of Israel - Nazareth

by Joseph Hunting

Nazareth is situated on an old trade route linking the coastal cities with Tiberias. Capernaum and the cities of the Decapolis. From the heights surrounding Nazareth one can drink in the beauty of the vast Jezreel Valley. Opposite lies Megiddo which was captured by Joshua and later fortified by King Solomon. Further along the valley Mount Gilboa's barren slopes remind us of Saul and Jonathan, and Mount Tabor stands like a sentinel guarding the eastern approaches to Jezreel. It was on Tabor that Barak routed the Canaanites when Deborah judged Israel. And yonder on Mount Carmel Elijah called Israel to witness one of the great miracles of Old Testament times when the fire of the Lord consumed the stone altar and the offering laid upon it.

It was in this area where so much of Israel's history unfolded that Jesus grew into manhood. Little is recorded of this period of His life, but we know that He was the carpenter in Nazareth as was His foster-father before Him. Although His profession would have brought Him into contact with most families in Nazareth, the tragedy is that the Nazarenes did not recognize Him. Mark reveals this: "And when the Sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? And what wisdom is this that is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joses, Juda and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, a prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

"And He could do there no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief." (Mark 6:2-6)

Nazareth today is a bustling city of Jews and Arabs living side by side. Apart from the "Shuk" or market place there is little evidence of the village of Nazareth conjured up in our minds from Bible stories. Crowds of tourists, busy traffic, ultra-modern architecture and row upon row of apartments jerk us into the reality of the present. Even so, Nazareth is the town whose name is inseparably linked with the name of Israel's Messiah, and for nineteen centuries Jesus of Nazareth has captivated the hearts and minds of countless millions who have recognized Him as the Saviour of mankind.