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Leaving Nazareth

Leaving Nazareth

The city of Nazareth sits on a summit. Certainly no Nazarene boy could resist an occasional hike to the crest to look out over the valley beneath. Sitting six hundred feet above the level of the sea, the young Jesus could examine this world He had made. Mountain flowers in the spring. Cool sunsets. Pelicans winging their way along the streams of Kishon to the Sea of Galilee. Thyme-besprinkled turf at His feet. Fields and fig trees in the distance.

Do you suppose moments here inspired these words later?

Observe how the lilies of the field grow — Matthew 6:28


Look at the birds of the air — Matthew 6:26

The words of Jesus the rabbi were born in the thoughts of Jesus the boy.

To the north of Nazareth lie the wood-crowned hills of Naphtali. Conspicuous. On one of them was the village of Safed, known in the region as “the city set upon the hill”. Was Jesus thinking of Safed when He said, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden — Matthew 5:14?

The maker of yokes later explained, My yoke is easy — Matthew 11:30.

The One who brushed His share of sawdust from His eyes would say, Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? — Matthew 7:3

When Jesus entered public life he was about thirty years old. — Luke 3:23

In order to enter public life, you have to leave private life. In order for Jesus to change the world, He had to say goodbye to His world.

He had to give Mary a kiss. Have a final meal in the kitchen, a final walk through the streets. Did He ascend one of the hills of Nazareth and think of the day He would ascend the hill near Jerusalem?

He knew what was going to happen.

God chose Him for this purpose long before the world began. — 1 Peter 1:20

Every ounce of suffering had been scripted — it just fell to Him to play the part. Not that He had to… Nazareth was a cozy town. Why not build a carpentry business? Keep His identity a secret? Return in the era of guillotines or electric chairs, and pass on the cross. To be forced to die is one thing, but to willingly take up your own cross is something else…

The day He left Nazareth is the day He declared His devotion for you and me.

— from Next Door Savior

He… made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. — Philippians 2:7–8

Christ abandoned His reputation. No one in Nazareth saluted Him as the Son of God. He did not stand out in His elementary classroom photograph, demanded no glossy page in His high school annual. Friends knew Him as a woodworker, not star hanger. His looks turned no heads. His position earned Him no credit. In the great stoop we call Christmas, Jesus abandoned heavenly privileges and aproned earthly pains.

He gave up His place with God and made Himself nothing. — Philippians 2:7

God hunts for those who will do likewise.

— from Cure for the Common Life

The greatest discovery in the universe is the greatest love in the universe — God’s Love.

He Left the Carpentry Shop

The heavy door creaked on its hinges as He pushed it open. With a few strides He crossed the silent shop and opened the wooden shutters to a square shaft of sunshine that pierced the darkness, painting a box of daylight on the dirt floor.

He looked around the carpentry shop. He stood a moment in the refuge of the little room that housed so many sweet memories. He balanced the hammer in His hand. He ran His fingers across the sharp teeth of the saw. He stroked the smoothly worn wood of the sawhorse. He had come to say good-bye.

It was time for Him to leave. He had heard something that made Him know it was time to go. So He came one last time to smell the sawdust and lumber.

Life was peaceful here. Life was so… safe.

Here He had spent countless hours of contentment. On this dirt floor He had played as a toddler while His father worked. Here Joseph had taught Him how to grip a hammer and on this workbench He had built His first chair.

I wonder what He thought as He took one last look around the room… Perhaps He stood for a moment at the workbench looking at the tiny shadows cast by the chisel and shavings. Perhaps He listened as voices from the past filled the air. I wonder if He hesitated. I wonder if His heart was torn.

I wonder if He rolled a nail between His thumb and fingers, anticipating the pain…

It must have been difficult to leave… after all, life as a carpenter wasn’t bad. It wan’t bad at all. Business was good. The future was bright and His work was enjoyable…

I wonder if He wanted to stay.

I could do a good job here in Nazareth. Settle down. Raise a family. Be a civic leader.

I wonder because I know He had already read the last chapter. He knew that the feet that would step out of the safe shadow of the carpentry shop would not rest until they’d been pierced and placed on a Roman cross.

You see, He didn’t have to go. He had a choice. He could have stayed. He could have kept His mouth shut. He could have ignored the call or at least postponed it. And had He chosen to stay, who would’ve known? Who would have blamed Him?

But, His heart wouldn’t let Him. If there was hesitation on the part of His humanity, it was overcome by the compassion of His divinity. His divinity heard the voices. His divinity heard the hopeless cries of the poor, the bitter accusations of the abandoned, the dangling despair of those who are trying to save themselves. And, His divinity saw the faces, some wrinkled, some weeping, some hidden behind veils, some obscured by fear, some earnest with searching, some blank with boredom. From the face of Adam to the face of the infant born somewhere in the world as you read these words, He saw them all.

And you can be sure of one thing, among the voices that found their way into that carpentry shop in Nazareth was your voice, your silent prayers uttered on tear-stained pillows were heard before they were said. Your deepest questions about death and eternity…

He left because of you.

— From God Came Near

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Your Turn

Have you thought about what Jesus’ private life was like before He became the increasingly well-known rabbi? Have you wondered whether or not He heard your voice and thought about you during His time here on earth? What do you think of this Jesus who lived such a normal life and left that life to bleed for you? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear what you think of Jesus! ~ Devotionals Daily