Nazareth - Learning to Trust God

Reading: Luke 2.51-52; 4.16-30

Nazareth was a town of little importance to any but those who lived there. When Philip told Nathanael about "Jesus of Nazareth", he said, "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" (John 2.46). To be known as "Jesus of Nazareth" helped to conceal his true identity as the Messiah - born in Bethlehem as the prophets foretold.

Today the grand Church of the Annunciation stands over excavations said to be of Mary's house. Here the angel Gabriel announced that Mary would bear the very Son of God (Luke 1.30-37). Here "the Word became flesh" and began to "make his dwelling among us" (John 1.14).

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but, because of the hostility of King Herod and his son Archelaus, it was safer back in Nazareth (Matthew 2.22-23).

The years that follow have been called "the silent years." The visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve gives us only a brief glimpse that he already had a clear understanding that he was uniquely God's Son. Then the curtain closes and he submits to Joseph and Mary back in Nazareth (Luke 2.41-52).

Of his education and training in the carpentry trade we know nothing. The present "synagogue-church" - maintained by Christian Melkite priests - may well be where Jesus went regularly with the family for worship and instruction in the Scriptures - the reading of the Scriptures was central to what went on in the synagogue.

Some writers in the early centuries tried to satisfy human curiosity about the silent years - inventing stories that suggest he was a little miracle-worker. However, this just doesn't fit with the response he received later from the people of Nazareth.

The silent years were hidden years. His identity was hidden - waiting for the right time, God's time.

When the time of opportunity had come, when he returned to announce that the prophecies were now fulfilled in him, his long-time school-mates, friends and neighbours turned against him, tried to get rid of him (Luke 4.16-30).

They wanted a miracle, but what they needed was to trust in God. Matthew says that Jesus "did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith" (Matthew 13.58).

They weren't the only ones to demand a miracle. When Jesus was dying on the cross, the chief priests taunted him, "Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him" (Matthew 27.42).

Even today there are some who would like to see a "miracle-on-demand." But they would never be satisfied, even then.

Jesus was uniquely the Son of God, but he is also our example. We too can learn to trust the Father in our own lives - no matter what. We don't have to live in frustration or panic. God is here with us. His plan and timing are always perfect. We can depend on him.

It's not a matter of summoning up enough strength or courage or strength to hold onto God, but allowing him to hold us. There are times when we feel too weak to hold on. In his love and peace he holds us.

And we can be a means of bringing God's love and peace into the lives of others - and God's healing power and comfort, given in God's way and in God's time.

PRAYER: Father God, you have promised to be with me always. Yet somehow I wish you would do something, show yourself to me in some special way. What's that, Lord? You mean you've already done that? You're pointing me to the cross! You want me to trust you, accept your love and forgiveness! What about today, Lord? You'll be with me today! Help me to show your love and peace to someone else today! May your love and peace surround every person I am in contact with today - to bring your healing power and comfort. In Jesus' name, Amen.

In His Hands

Amid the rush
and panic
of an over-busy life,
we need a centre,
a focal-point
of integration,
a source
of strength
and calm.

we know
our lack
of strength
and will
to hold
onto our hope
and trust
in God.

Yet faith
and trust
is letting God
hold us,
for he is strong.
Our life
is always
in his hands.

© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin Blue Care Devotions, 1 May 2001
More photos of Israel are available here.
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, © International Bible Society, 1984.

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