When one grows up in a small town, the citizens of that town are pigeonholed at an early age. Jesus was the one whose parents had the suspicious premarital pregnancy. Even though Joseph was a godly man and Mary a godly woman, the gossip would have begun there. Snickers by clusters of people that halted abruptly whenever either Mary or Joseph walked by were surely followed by whispers.

When they left for the registry in Bethlehem, they expected to return immediately to Nazareth, but instead, they were directed by an angel to head toward Egypt, where they stayed for, possibly, two or three years, until at least the year that was eventually designated the first year A.D.

The return of the family of Jesus to Nazareth, also known as the return from Egypt, appears in the reports of the early life of Jesus given in the canonical gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

A small town like Nazareth probably would have had only one rabbi, a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism. One became a rabbi by being ordained by another rabbi – known as semikha. The rabbi usually instructed the boys at the synagogue, alongside their fathers, who had also been discipled by their own fathers and the rabbis of their own youth. The typical Jewish boy memorized the entire Torah.

After being baptized by John, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, Jesus went out into the wilderness, led by the Spirit, for forty days. He ate nothing as Satan tried to discourage Him from fulfilling His ministry.

“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”‘ 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, ‘To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”

“And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ 11 and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Next Jesus called His first disciples. Matthew 8:14–27; Mark 1:17–20; Mark 4:36–41; Luke 5:4–11; and Luke 6:12–16.

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him” (Mark 1:14-20 ESV).

He healed a man with an unclean spirit. Then many more in need of healing showed up. He preached in Galilee. He cleansed a leper. He healed a paralytic in His own home after those who had brought the man tore open His roof (Mark 2:1-5). He called Levi/Matthew. He walked through a field with His disciples and plucked heads of wheat as they walked. This brought chastisement from Pharisees that it was the Sabbath and they shouldn’t work. These Jesus rebuked, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”(Mark 2:27-28) Of course, that didn’t go over well with the Pharisees either.

The Temptation of Jesus occurred here: Luke 4:1-13 ESV.

14 “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written….” (Luke 4:14 -19 ESV).

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Isaiah 61, quoted in Luke 14:18-21 ESV).

“And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ (Luke 14:19-22 ESV).

And then Jesus grabbed hold of the conversation and turned it to spur them to examine their hearts.

23 “And he said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” 24 And He said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 

28 “When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away” (Luke 4:23-30 ESV).

Words were spoken by Jesus to the people of Nazareth, the town where he grew up. They refused to believe His teaching because they considered Him to be one of themselves and therefore without authority to preach to them. [In the episode of The Chosen, the rabbi himself questions Jesus.] Their anger toward Jesus for saying words that pricked their consciences drove them into such a frenzy that they wanted to throw Jesus off this cliff outside of Nazareth. It’s not simply a small hill, but a mountainous, rocky region with a deep cavern over the edge. See the picture above.

This would have killed Jesus, but it was not His time to die, and not in this fashion. He passed through their midst, and walking through the crowd. He went away, taking His ministry to a new location.

31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

It was here in Capernaum that He called His first disciples . . .

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