Jesus of Nazareth is a frequently used descriptive title. When Blind Bartimaeus heard that “Jesus of Nazareth” was passing by, he mustered the courage to cry out for mercy (Mark 10:47). After Jesus had prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, the mob, armed with swords and spears came seeking “Jesus of Nazareth” (John 18:5). As the Messiah hung upon His cross, a sign above Him proclaimed, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). And when the faithful women came to His tomb on that most-fateful Sunday morning, the angel announced, “Don’t be alarmed… You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here” (Mark 16:6).
Nazareth, a small village in the hills, halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean, was home to just a few hundred citizens. “The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:26). Joseph, the carpenter, and earthly father of Jesus was also “from the town of Nazareth” (Luke 2:4). After a short hiatus in Egypt, Joseph, Mary and Jesus settled in Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23). At the age of twelve, after visiting the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus “went down with them and came to Nazareth” where “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people” (Luke 2:51–52).
Nazareth was never mentioned in the Old Testament but when Jesus was commissioning His first disciples, “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law (and so did the prophets): Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ ” (John 1:45-46). Maybe there was a rivalry between Nazareth and Nathanael’s hometown. Or maybe Nazareth had a reputation of poverty or immorality. We can’t be certain.
After performing miracles on both sides of the Sea of Galilee, “He left there and came to his hometown” (Mark 6:1). One might assume that there was a tickertape parade awaiting His triumphant return, that His boyhood pals and their families would line the thoroughfares, ready to cheer the village’s favorite son. Nope!
On the Sabbath, “he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they said. ‘What is this wisdom that has been given to him, and how are these miracles performed by his hands? Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” So they were offended by him” (Mark 6:2-3).
They weren’t cheering. They were sneering and jeering. They scoffed, “who does he think he is? He’s just an apprentice carpenter!” Filled with doubt and hatred, “they got up, drove him out of town, and brought him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl him over the cliff” (Luke 4:29). During His short visit to Nazareth, “He was not able to do a miracle there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he was amazed at their unbelief” (Mark 6:5-6). He was amazed!
Twice the Scriptures record Jesus’ amazement. Here He marveled at their unbelief while in another passage He marveled at a Roman centurion’s great faith. Jesus was amazed, saying “I tell you, I have not found so great a faith even in Israel” (Luke 7:9).
So, I ask myself, do I ever amaze the Master?