Nativity Lecture 1 – The Galilean Roots of the Messiah

Exploring the Messiah’s Galilean Roots

The birth of Christ – his nativity proper – is a prerequisite for atonement, so whether or not there is a prescribed memorial, a doctrine or a festival connected with it there is value in getting our eyes anointed with a look at the birth and early life of Yeshua. Nativity includes accuracy in time and place, and to be strict, we can say it took a moment (assuming Mary’s labour was not extended!). What birth drama there is to see is brief and filled with adventure. Nativity extends to origins too, which is why we are keen to know where does a person come from. Messiah’s connection to his place of residence is not brief. This nativity for the Saviour of the world attaches firmly to Galilee, Nazareth and Capernaum. This is not discriminatory nor accidental, because Christ’s residence in Galilee will inform us of the major character-block, if one follows the gospels. The fuller nativity narrative itself is thick, deep and rich, is more holy than its night, more awesome than its angelic interactions, more mysterious than its refugee king, and yet could be no more ordinary than to have begun in Nazareth. If we merely followed the gospels we would fill our bellies with a long list of places, and individuals, and a divine checklist of errands.

  1. The Lord’s Messenger John the Baptist
  2. The Lord’s angel Gabriel dispatched to Nazareth, Galilee.
  3. The Lord’s parents: engagement (Nazareth)
  4. Announcement to Mary (Nazareth)
  5. Prophecy (song) of Mary (Judea)
  6. Prophecy of Zechariah (Judea)
  7. Registering for the census (Bethlehem)
  8. Angelic Announcement to the shepherds (Bethlehem)
  9. Birth (Bethlehem)
  10. Magi visit (Bethlehem)
  11. Herod’s infant slaughter (Bethlehem, depart for Egypt)
  12. Prophecy of Simeon (Jerusalem)
  13. Angelic appearance (Bethlehem)
  14. Flight into Egypt
  15. Angelic appearance (return to Palestine)
  16. Return > Galilee
  17. On the brink of Teenage in the Temple (Jerusalem, Nazareth)

It seems best to stick to home for a grounded nativity panorama. We realize that home is Bethlehem, but that appears only as the hospital; an already very famous birthplace. The record of our Lord’s residence in Bethlehem is brief, consisting of his birth and speedy departure for Egypt parents returning and warned about the safety of Bethlehem. The census which brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem kicks off an adventure which turns out to be octagon of intense contradictions.

The winding road to Nazareth

THE OCTAGON OF CONTRADICTIONS

We are well aware that the Christ-child’s arrival was the cause and reason for great joy to any person tuned in to the event and for all people. Yet the intended effect of the Light’s arrival on earth was not to be felt until the Passover of His 33rd year. We would see him briefly as a 12 year old resident of Nazareth in the Jerusalem temple making the leaders of Judea scratch their heads.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke. 2:46 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Luke. 2:47

The shaping of the life in those eighteen years does not have to be guessed at. Galilee had the following distinct features of interest to the young Incarnate.

  1. Galilee was among the first areas to suffer exile (as a result of the warning in Numbers 33:56)
  2. Galilee was one of areas hosting a city of refuge (Kedesh, in Naphthali territory, Joshua 20:7, 21:32)
  3. Galilee was a richly cosmopolitan region, i.e. Gentiles made up a considerable portion of the cities in Galilee, 20 known are on record (1 Kings 9:11)

Galilee was a fertile field because it was in need of light. We cannot presume that the young Incarnate (YI) ended his interest in his Father’s business

  1. All of the people who came into contact with the YI would have benefited from or at least be challenged by his wisdom
  2. All of the people with whom he had regular contact would have heard him speak at synagogue for 18 years until that day when he read Isaiah 61 (Luke 4)
  3. As with the temple so with heaven’s interests in Kedesh, the Galilean city of refuge would have fallen under his gaze and evaluation.

In Nazareth our Lord learned by experience about the Jew-Gentile partition. Even though he kept his mission focused on Jews, his encounters with Gentiles showed how well he was prepared to meet most honourably with the desire of Gentiles to reach him. Three foreigners came to the manger and worshipped, and Gentiles sought relentlessly to see and touch him throughout his three years of testimony. I am glad that there is a witness in AD 2019 that they still do, in droves.

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