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Jesus: His Small Town Beginnings

This article gives an unusual take on Jesus: Don't Despise Small Town Living: Jesus Didn't by Tyson Lambertson. It does seem a little bit obvious, in that probably most cities and towns in Jesus' day were fairly small. Except for the big cities like Jerusalem, most people lived in small, agrarian communities like Nazareth and Capernaum. But there's a bigger picture here, and we like this angle; Jesus always ministered where he was and as he was, even in his childhood and young adulthood. There's good advice for other small-town residents, too, in this article, and we recommend it. We'll blog about it below. But first here's a snippet or two from the article:

"Jesus ... spent his childhood years in Nazareth, but referred to Capernaum as his hometown. Capernaum was strategically placed on the Via Maris, an ancient trade route, and was home to about 1,500 people. The Via Maris was a direct passage connecting Egypt to Syria, and whenever something happened on this route, word spread all the way from Egypt to Syria. It was from here, the small town of Capernaum, that Jesus became a household name.

"Jesus was simply doing the work of His Father. People would listen in amazement as He taught in the synagogue. He cast out the demons of those who were suffering. He healed Peter's mother-in-law. Word began to travel not only through Capernaum, but also down the Via Maris. People started coming from all over just to receive healing. With fame comes notoriety, and Jesus was not immune to heartache. He had developed deep relationships in this town and even though many had seen miracles, they were still skeptical of Him. As it's still true today, credibility is hard won (and easily lost)."

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Jesus' small town beginnings

Jesus was born in Bethlehem but by age three, Mary and Joseph had settled their little family back in Nazareth, the town where they met and married. Those three years between Jesus' birth and their return to Nazareth were years of anxiety and stress, owing to the evil attempt by Herod to find and kill the newborn child. They were forced to trek to Alexandria in Egypt in order to ascape the tentacles of harm that threatened their child of promise; but by the time Jesus was three, they did finally settle back into their home in Nazareth. Nazareth was notable as a nexus of caravan travel in those days, an opportunity for Jesus to learn at an early age the variety of people in the world:

121:2.2 Many of the great highways joining the nations of antiquity passed through Palestine, which thus became the meeting place, or crossroads, of three continents. The travel, trade, and armies of Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Parthia, and Rome successively swept over Palestine. From time immemorial, many caravan routes from the Orient passed through some part of this region to the few good seaports of the eastern end of the Mediterranean, whence ships carried their cargoes to all the maritime Occident. And more than half of this caravan traffic passed through or near the little town of Nazareth in Galilee.

Advantages for Jesus at Nazareth:

123:1.6 And Jesus, as he grew up, when not at school, spent his time about equally between helping his mother with home duties and watching his father work at the shop, meanwhile listening to the conversation and gossip of the caravan conductors and passengers from the four corners of the earth.

124:0.1 At Nazareth he secured an education and received a training which more acceptably prepared him to understand the gentiles, and which gave him a better and more balanced idea of the relative merits of the Eastern, or Babylonian and the Western, or Hellenic, views of Hebrew theology.

124:4.8 As time passed, Jesus did much to modify their practice of religious forms, such as the family prayers and other customs. And it was possible to do many such things at Nazareth, for its synagogue was under the influence of a liberal school of rabbis, exemplified by the renowned Nazareth teacher, Jose.

What was Jesus' home in Nazareth like?

122:6.1 The home of Jesus was not far from the high hill in the northerly part of Nazareth, some distance from the village spring, which was in the eastern section of the town. Jesus' family dwelt in the outskirts of the city, and this made it all the easier for him subsequently to enjoy frequent strolls in the country and to make trips up to the top of this near-by highland, the highest of all the hills of southern Galilee save the Mount Tabor range to the east and the hill of Nain, which was about the same height.

Read more about The Home at Nazareth

Why did Jesus abandon his hometown?

A political crisis caused "division of sentiment" about Jesus when he was 17 years-old:

"At about this time there was considerable agitation, especially at Jerusalem and in Judea, in favor of rebellion against the payment of taxes to Rome. There was coming into existence a strong nationalist party, presently to be called the Zealots. The Zealots, unlike the Pharisees, were not willing to await the coming of the Messiah. They proposed to bring things to a head through political revolt."

Jesus was aksed to join the rebellion; even his mother wanted him to join the revolt, but Jesus refused. He was even offered money, but still he refused, defusing the situation by explaining that he was too busy with the rearing of his brothers and sisters to become politically active.

Read more about this significant event in Jesus' teenaged years HERE

127:2.10 The crisis for the time being was over, but never was this incident forgotten in Nazareth. The agitation persisted; not again was Jesus in universal favor; the division of sentiment was never fully overcome. And this, augmented by other and subsequent occurrences, was one of the chief reasons why he moved to Capernaum in later years. Henceforth Nazareth maintained a division of sentiment regarding the Son of Man.

How Capernaum became Jesus' home

Joseph, Jesus' earth father, had once owned property in Capernaum; even though Jesus was forced to liquidate the property after Jeseph's untimely death, it still remained an attractive place for him. One of his father's friends, Zebedee, lived there, and when Jesus was 27 years-old, having made plans and provisions for the care of his mother Mary and his younger siblings, Jesus left Nazareth, never to be a resident there again. He went to Capernaum, stopping to visit Zebedee, whose profession was that of boat builder. Zebedee asked Jesus to work for him, and Jesus consented. Please see the following link about this year of work, study, and preaching that Jesus spent there:

The Twenty-Seventh Year

Later, after Jesus' long trip to the Mediterranean with the Indian travelers (Gonod and Ganid) Jesus once more returned to Capernaum, where Mary and the remaining children in her household had moved in his absence. By April, AD 25, we are told that " No longer did he regard Nazareth as his home. Capernaum had become the home of Jesus, James, Mary, and Ruth. But Jesus never again lived with his family; when in Capernaum he made his home with the Zebedees."

Capernaum as Jesus' Headquarters

Following the assemply of the apostles, Zebedee and his wife, Salome, offered to turn over their large home in Capernaum to Jesus and the twelve. It was in this home, now Jesus' headquarters, where much of the training of the apostles took place, in the year before the public preaching tours. And in the highlands to the north of this home was the scene of The Ordination.

138:5.4 Zebedee and Salome had gone to live with their son David so that their large home could be turned over to Jesus and his twelve apostles. Here Jesus spent a quiet Sabbath with his chosen messengers; he carefully outlined the plans for proclaiming the kingdom and fully explained the importance of avoiding any clash with the civil authorities...

And it was in the front room of this home that Jesus later performed the healing of the paralytic. You can read that beloved story in great detail HERE.

Meanwhile, Back in Nazareth

150:7.2 The people of Nazareth were never reputed for piety and righteous living. As the years passed, this village became increasingly contaminated by the low moral standards of near-by Sepphoris. Throughout Jesus' youth and young manhood there had been a division of opinion in Nazareth regarding him; there was much resentment when he moved to Capernaum. While the inhabitants of Nazareth had heard much about the doings of their former carpenter, they were offended that he had never included his native village in any of his earlier preaching tours. They had indeed heard of Jesus' fame, but the majority of the citizens were angry because he had done none of his great works in the city of his youth. For months the people of Nazareth had discussed Jesus much, but their opinions were, on the whole, unfavorable to him.

Read more about Jesus' frosty welcome in his hometown HERE

Yes, Jesus was the product of small towns. It was in these small towns that he was nurtured, educated, socialized, and celebrated - and later villified. Like all small towns, all the residents knew each other and were aware of all that was going on; and Jesus was one of the most famous of all these small towns' residents.

In Nazareth and in Capernaum Jesus did some of the most important work of his life, insofar as his meshing of his human and divine self. He assembled the twelve apostles from the local environs and prepared the momentous preachings tours. He preached in the synagogues and honed his public presence. It was from these smaller towns that Jesus and apostles went forth to conquer the entire world.

And this blog covers only a fraction of the events in Jesus' life that played out in these small towns. For the most complete picture of those times, those places, those people, and those events, please treat yourself to a reading of these early years in Part IV of The Urantia Book, the Life and Teachings of Jesus

And, never be discouraged to be from a small town. Learn from the life of Jesus how it can be the very best place from which to launch an illustrious career!

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