Nazareth: Mount Precipice

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Nazareth: Mount Precipice

 

Location

 

1. Nazareth is in the northern part of Israel in the lower Galilee area.

 

2. It’s about 15 miles (24 km.) southwest of the Sea of Galilee, about 3.5 miles (5.6 km.)  southwest of Cana, and about 23 miles (37 km.) inland from the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Historical Background 

 

1. Nazareth had an estimated population of around 300 during the time of Christ.

 

2. It’s a famous town because this is where the Angel Gabriel announced the miraculous virgin birth to Mary.

 

3. Nazareth is also the place where Jesus grew up.

 

4. It was a small farming town where everyone knew each other.

 

5. For some reason, Nazareth had a bad reputation (John 1:43-46).  

 

Places of Interest

 

1. Nazareth

2. Hometown of Jesus

3. Mt. Precipice

4. Church of the Annunciation (Basilica of the Annunciation)

5. Mary’s Well

6. Greek Catholic Church

7. Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation

8. St. Joseph’s Church

9. Mensa Christi Church

10. Greek Catholic Church

11. Synagogue Church

 

  • Now, this synagogue where Jesus preached here in Nazareth still exists to this day. According to Christian tradition, the church is built on the ruins of the ancient Nazareth synagogue where Jesus studied, prayed, and then preached at in His visit here when they attempted to throw Him off the cliff. This synagogue is simply named today, “the Synagogue Church.”

  • Ancient tradition maintains that this Synagogue Church stands atop the synagogue where Jesus worshipped as a young man. In fact, in A.D. 570, the anonymous northern Italian “Pilgrim of Piacenza” — the last western Christian writer to visit Palestine before the Muslim conquest that occurred less than a century later — claimed to have seen not only the ancient synagogue itself but the original Scriptures from which Jesus had read, as well as the bench on which Jesus used to sit as a young man.

  • During Byzantine times, Christian believers started attending this place, and in Medieval times the synagogue was turned into a church. 

  • The church was later destroyed, but a stone structure marking the location of the first-century synagogue is still intact. Its floor is 6 feet lower than street level, and its roof is arched, a typical element in medieval architecture.

  • A marble pillar next to its entrance is dated to the Roman period. This column is the only possible genuine remnant of the ancient synagogue.

  • A raised platform in its northern end holds an altar. By local tradition, this is where Jesus read from Isaiah to the local congregation.

  • The current “Synagogue Church” is a 12th-century Crusader structure located in the area of Nazareth’s medieval market, just a few minutes’ walk from the Church of the Annunciation and directly adjacent to the Greek Catholic Church of the Annunciation. 

  • The Synagogue Church is visited by just a fraction of those coming to see the Church of the Annunciation, perhaps because of its hidden location. The site is maintained by the Melkite Greek Catholics, who added an adjacent modern church which was completed in 1887. 

 

Nazareth In the Bible

1. Nazareth was the home of Joseph and Mary and the place where the angel Gabriel was sent to announce to the Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of Christ the Messiah. There has been a church built here to commemorate this announcement called, “The Church of the Annunciation.”

Luke 1:26-38 says, “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.”

 

2. After living in Egypt for some time after Christ’s birth, His parents returned to Nazareth where Jesus grew up.

Matt. 2:19-23: “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He shall be called a Nazarene."

 

3. Jesus lived Nazareth until He started His earthly ministry at the age of 30. From Nazareth, Christ relocated and set up His ministry home base in Capernaum.

Matthew 4:13-17: “And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-- the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

 

4. Jesus was rejected by His own townspeople at Nazareth and was unable to perform many miracles there due to their lack of faith in Him.

Luke 4:14-27 - And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. 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."

 

5. Those who knew Christ the best rejected Him and attempted to throw Him off a cliff close-by to their town.

Today, this place is called, Mt. Precipice, named after this event. 

Luke 4:28-30: “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.

 

Faith Lesson

1. Am I oftentimes misunderstood by my family and friends like Christ was?

2. I should love my family and friends, but if they don’t understand my commitment to Christ, I shouldn’t allow them to negatively affect my relationship with Christ and be discouraged.

Jesus said we must love Him more than our closest relationships.

 

3. Do I love Christ more than my family and friends?

In Matt. 10:37 Christ said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

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