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JESUS IN NAZARETH

George de la Tour, The Newborn

 Unusual Paintings of Jesus' Birth 
    
         

Nazareth is famous for one thing, and one thing alone: it is the home town of Jesus. 

It was here that Jesus spent his boyhood, living with his mother and father, and here that he faced the sceptical townsfolk of Nazareth.

The village seems to have been held in some contempt in 1st century Palestine - a nondescript dot on the map with not much to offer, overshadowed by nearby Sepphoris, the luxurious Greek-style capital of Herod Antipas.
It is beguiling to think that Joseph and Jesus, as builders, may have traipsed over to Sepphoris to work on the new buildings.

NAZARETH REJECTS JESUS

Jesus as portrayed in the Mel Gibson film 'The Passion of the Christ'

     Modern Images of Jesus
          

The adult Jesus may have returned to his village a number of times to see his family, but there is only one recorded example of such a visit.

Nazareth could not boast many celebrities among its population, so when Jesus, now a charismatic and famous teacher, returned home he was at first greeted warmly.

He went to the tiny synagogue and taught there, and people were impressed by what he said.

But then things turned sour.

Just why they did so is not clear.

It may have been that, like many men whose birth was shadowed, he was not entirely accepted by the people he grew up with.

Luke's gospel suggests the people of Nazareth did not treat Jesus with the same respect he received in the outside world.

Jesus resented their skepticism, and showed it. 

Head of Mary, Jose de Ribera 1637

Mary: Unusual Paintings 
   
   

The people of Nazareth turned on him and ran him out of town. One of the gospels says that, in the ensuing mêlée, the rougher element among the villagers tried to kill Jesus. It was probably someone in this group who referred disparagingly to Jesus as ‘the son of Mary’ (Mark 6:1-6).

A Jewish man was normally referred to as ‘the son of (his father)’, and we would expect Jesus to be called ‘the son of Joseph’. Calling him 'the son of Mary' implies Jesus could not even name his own father.

It is an awkward story. Why include it at all in the gospels, when it casts Jesus in such a poor light?

But it was reassuring for the early Christians. They too were being rejected by their Jewish neighbors. This did not hurt so much if they could look at Jesus and see that he too, even he, had been rejected during his life.

It was not a happy experience for anyone, especially Mary, who may have understood the villagers’ resentment but was forced to watch her son being vilified.

She seems to have been head of the family at this stage. Joseph had disappeared from the scene, either dead (life expectancy was low) or away working as an itinerant craftsman. 

 


                                     

 

 

 

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