Gospel verses that mention Nazareth

Birth and childhood

  • ‘In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth….’ Luke 1:26
  • ‘In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem.’ Luke 2:1-4
  • ‘After being warned in a dream, Joseph went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled “He will be called a Nazorean.”‘ Matthew 2:22-23
  • ‘When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.’ Luke 2:39
  • ‘Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.’ Luke 2:51

Ministry

  • ‘The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Phillip and said to him “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth”. Nathanael said to him “Can anything good come of of Nazareth?” Philip said to him “Come and see”.’ John 1:43-46
  • He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
    Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
    Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’ “I tell you the truth,” 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 down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.’ Luke 4:16-30
  • ‘In the synagog there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ Luke 4:33-34
  • ‘As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” ‘ Luke 18:35-37
  • ‘Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” ‘ Mark 1:23-24
  • ‘As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” ‘ Mark 10:46-47

Final days

  • ‘When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking “Who is this?” The crowds were saying “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” ‘ Matthew 21:10-11
  • ‘Then one of the, whose name was Cleopas, answered him “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days? He asked them “What things?” They replied “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.’ Luke 24:18-19

Bible Study Activities for Luke 4:16-30

You’re Not the Only One…

Rejection by the people we know is one of the most painful experiences of life. It forces us to examine ourselves, and re-assess the people we think we know – just as Jesus had to when the people of Nazareth rejected him.
Read the gospel passage above at Luke 4:16-30, about Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth, then spend some time thinking about:

  • Jesus’ experience of rejection in his home town
  • a time when you yourself felt rejected.

How did you cope with the experience? What did you learn about yourself and others?

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

Read the gospel passage at Luke 4:16-30. Be’ a person in Nazareth on the day that Jesus is rejected – either

  • a family member who supports him
  • one of the townspeople who try to kill him
  • or perhaps someone who simply watches from the sidelines.

Explain what happens, as you see it. Empathize with the motives and emotions of the person.

Lay-out of the 2nd century synagogue at Capernaum, a town near Nazareth; the synagogue at Nazareth was probably on the same plan, but smaller.

Mary bears a sonThe Birth of Jesus 4

According to Matthew, it was Joseph who chose the name of the child. Names were much more important in that culture than in ours. They were meant to point to the actual character and destiny of the child, and so a great deal of thought went into selecting the right name.

‘Jesus’ is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, ‘the Lord saves’. Joshua was the heroic warrior who led the Hebrews into the Promised Land after Moses died. To the first Christians, Jesus was the prophet who would save them and lead them into a different, heavenly Promised Land.

Naming a child had an another function: it was a way of claiming a child as your own. When Joseph named Jesus, he was establishing Jesus’ Davidic lineage through his own ancestry – which makes Joseph very significant in the story of Jesus.

Mary would not have been alone when she gave birth to Jesus, as pious legend likes to picture her. Even if she was travelling and not at home, she would have been helped by a number of women, some from her own family. It was rare for a husband and wife to travel alone together, without any family members around them, and it seems most unlikely in the case of a heavily pregnant woman like Mary.

Luke’s gospel makes a point of saying that ‘there was no room for them at the inn’, so the birth probably happened in one of the storage caves hollowed out of the rock near each house. Imagine an over-crowded Palestinian peasant house: a single-roomed home with an animal stall under the same roof. Jesus was placed in one of the animals’ feeding troughs.

A question sometimes asked is: what happened to the placenta? In modern Jewish tradition, the placenta is buried as soon as possible after the birth of the child. Since the Jewish purity laws and rituals today are much the same as they were then, it is safe to assume that something similar happened at the birth of Jesus. The midwives would have taken the placenta, dug a hole outside the boundary of the village, and buried it.

No-one really knows the date that Jesus was born. The early Christian church named the shortest day of the year as his birthday: after that, each succeeding day becomes lighter and longer. The implication was that the birth of Christ brought light and life into the world.

Read the red text at end of page

The Birth of Jesus 5What happened next? See Shepherds and Angels

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What  the  Gospels say

There are two descriptions of the birth of Jesus. Matthew focuses on Joseph, Luke on Mary.

1.  Joseph’s dream.    Read the blue text

2.  Bethlehem.    Read the green text

3.  Mary bears a son.    Read the red text

Matthew 1:18-25  18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

Luke 2:1-7   1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrolment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

You might like to compare the parallel accounts of the births of Jesus and John the Baptist in Luke’s gospel. You can find the gospel texts at http://www.womeninthebible.net/Elizabeth_bible_text.htm

Notice especially statements about

the pregnancy reaching term, Luke 1.57 and 2.6

the birth statement, Luke 1.57 and 2.7

marvelling onlookers, Luke 1.63 and 2.18

the taking to heart of what had happened, Luke 1.66 and 2.19

circumcision and name-giving, Luke 1.59 and 2.21

John’s birth is clearly a prelude to the birth of Jesus.

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Find Out More

Nazareth in the gospels
Maps Nazareth & Jerusalem