There’s something about the place where you grew up that stays in your memory. Nazareth was that place for Jesus.
Although in no sense cut off from the world, Nazareth was off every beaten path and up steep, winding roads from the north and south. In that small village, God’s angelic messenger delivered the news to young Mary, still a virgin, that she would conceive a child to be called Immanuel, “God with us.”
And to the safety of this out-of-the-way village, Joseph and Mary returned with the toddler Jesus after they fled to Egypt. In the obscurity of Nazareth, Jesus lived His first three decades around these hills.
From the cliffs of Jesus’s hometown, He could gaze across the Jezreel Valley and consider the lives of Israel’s previous kings. He could view Mount Gilboa where Saul, Israel’s first king, had fallen in battle. To the west, Mount Carmel recalled Elijah’s confrontation with Ahab, one of Israel’s worst kings. And southwest at Megiddo, Josiah, the last of Judah’s good kings, had met an early death six hundred years before. Without a doubt, the King of Kings often looked across this very plain as He grew up in this city perched on a hill.
The people in Nazareth knew Jesus as “the carpenter’s son.” When Jesus told them He was their Messiah, they began to riot and tried to throw Him over a cliff! At other times, Jesus’s proclamation of who He was incited the same fervor.
The names and titles Jesus claimed as His own declared both His deity and His humanity:
- Jesus: Greek for Joshua or Yeshua, meaning “The Lord is my help” (as in salvation).
- Messiah: “The anointed one.” Anointing was a sign that God had chosen and prepared a person for His own purpose (John 1:41).
- Son of Man: Jesus’s favorite designation for Himself echoed a vision of the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:13; Luke 19:10).
- Son of God: Emphasizes Jesus’s unique relationship to God. Jesus Himself addressed God as “Father” (John 20:31).
- Son of David: Born in King David’s line, Jesus fulfilled prophecies concerning the Messiah (Micah 5:2; Matthew 21:9).
- “I AM”: Jesus used this phrase to describe Himself. It echoes God’s revelation to Moses (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58).