It’s been said that the Holy Land is the fifth Gospel—that in walking its streets and tracing its terrain you have a chance to see the biblical story with fresh eyes and hear it with fresh ears. (To give you greater insight into what Mary's hometown was like, I've included a short video at the end of the post that will take you through the archaeological ruins of Sepphoris, a city that was about 3 miles northwest of Nazareth.)
This week we will visit Nazareth, the hometown of Mary and later of Jesus. The town of Nazareth was looked upon with some disdain. We hear that disdain in John 1:46, thirty years after the birth of Jesus, when Philip told Nathaniel, “We’ve found the Messiah. He’s Jesus of Nazareth.” Nathaniel replied, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
The site that Christians visit as Mary’s childhood home in Nazareth—at least the lower level of it—is a cave. (The cave may have included an upper level, as there are steps leading from it. You can see the cave that tradition claims was Mary’s home on the DVD of The Journey).
Seeing this modest dwelling reminds us that when choosing the mother of the Messiah, God went to a tiny village considered insignificant by most, likely named after the hope of a Messiah, and invited a young woman of very humble means to bear the Christ. It was in this cave, tradition says, that Gabriel came to Mary and announced that she was with child. It was here, in this place, that the word became flesh in Mary’s womb.
This season, as we begin our journey through the story of Jesus’ birth, my hope and prayer for you is that you will come to learn more about who God is, who we’re called to be, and who the child was who would be born to Mary.
This week especially, ponder the way God chooses unlikely characters to bring about great purposes.
This selection is from the new book, Walking the Road to Bethlehem. Find out more at The Journey website at www.journeythischristmas.com.