Our Trip to Israel: Nazareth

Nazareth is located about halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea.

Source: Holman Bible Atlas

Jesus was born in Bethlehem (about 90 miles south of here) but grew up in this city.

Luke 2:39–40 “And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”

In fact, growing up in Nazareth fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.

Matthew 2:23 “And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.”

But, today, things are much different than when Jesus lived here.

It is now the largest Muslim city in Israel. Our tour guide told us that 15 years ago, 30% of Nazareth was Muslim and 70% was Christian. But, today, roughly 70% of Nazareth is Muslim and 30% is Christian. This city may not be available for Christian tourists visits for much longer.

Honestly, I didn’t enjoy this stop as much as I thought I would. It’s nothing like the town Jesus grew up in. There were no ruins that could provide fodder for our imagination and sense of wonder.

The only thing we saw in the city was The Church of the Annunciation which claimed to be on or near the sight where Mary heard from the angel that she would give birth to the Messiah. I find it impossible to believe that those who built the Catholic structure knew the precise location.

Here’s the Catholic Church’s roof as viewed from a street in Nazareth.

Here is supposedly the spot where Mary got the message … or it happened in a cave / home like this.

A closer look…

They were having mass during our time at the Catholic facilities.

But, there was a pretty incredible moment that we experienced during our time near Nazareth. We went to a place where some believe the people of Nazareth tried to push Jesus off a cliff. But, based on the wording of the biblical text, it is doubtful if we were in the right location.

However, the video puts things in perspective. I start by aiming my camera toward Nazareth and zoomed in on the Church of the Annunciation. And then I swept around to the cliff that overlooks the valley of Jezreel – where the battle of Armageddon is going to happen.

Here’s the text of the biblical story…

Luke 4:16–30 “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. 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 proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.'”

“And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ And he said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'” And he said, ‘Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.’ When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.”

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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