Ancient Israel Modern Israel

When Jesus grew up, his home town was Nazareth in Galilee. Where is that, exactly? As you can see on these maps (one of Ancient Israel and the other of Modern Israel), it’s in the northern section of the country, west of the lower part of the Sea of Galilee.

Nazareth was one of those towns occupied by a mixture of people from many different places, not well thought of by the more elite. Being close to a trade route, travelers coming and going would stop here and some settled here. Some probably even intermarried into local families. Quite a lot is known about this little sort of disreputable town, home town of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

If you’re interested in learning more about the town in Jesus’ day, click on the link,

What interested me is how close Nazareth is to everywhere else in Israel. Now, as then, only a few miles stretch between Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, just a few more between Nazareth and the main cities. Most people walked everywhere in New Testament days, but there were well traveled roads and many small communities, villages and towns along the way, no matter where you were going.

Joseph was a carpenter by trade, and thus Jesus learned carpentry. A great deal of the carpenter’s work was done outside or “on site,” whether someone needed a wagon wheel, a yoke for an ox, a fishing boat, or help constructing a building. Carpenters met many people, everywhere, thus as Jesus worked beside Joseph, he began meeting many people too.

Relatives of Joseph and Mary lived in the same area. The young cousins certainly knew each other, played together, learned together. Then as Jesus grew up he began to accompany the men to the synagogue. The entire family traveled to Jerusalem every year for the Feast of the Passover, along with many relatives and friends.

By the time Jesus began his ministry, he was already well known in Galilee, and probably in other parts of the country as well. What was he known for? His family relationships. His reputation. The quality of his carpentry work. The value of his opinions. His honesty, integrity, respect for his elders.

And when Jesus called his first disciple, he chose someone who already knew him; someone he already knew. We have the idea that Jesus just went around picking out this stranger and that one, and that somehow those picked were overcome with awe by this stranger calling to them and dropped everything.

No, I believe they were already well acquainted. Jesus’ reputation preceded him, and those men had no doubt been expecting him to start selecting students – disciples – and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had been praying within their own spirits, “Father, let him choose me, let him choose me!”

Also check out Peter, fishing-industry businessman

3 thoughts on “Strangers?

  1. Pingback: The Art of Teaching | Esther's Petition

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