Where Did Jesus Grow Up?
In the scriptures, Jesus is often referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth.” Was Jesus born in Nazareth? No, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but he didn’t grow up there. Instead, Jesus grew up in Nazareth, where Mary and Joseph had been living before and where they continued to live after Jesus began his ministry. Nazareth was in northern Galilee and was a small village at the time. Because Jesus spent most of his life there and his family lived there, he was called Jesus of Nazareth.
Why Was Jesus Born in Bethlehem and Raised in Nazareth?
If Mary and Joseph had been living in Nazareth before Jesus was born, why was Jesus born in Bethlehem? As explained in Luke 2, when Jesus was to be born, the Roman emperor decreed that every man in Israel needed to return to their ancestral city to pay taxes. Joseph was of the line of David, and he needed to return to Bethlehem to be taxed in his family’s city. While Joseph and Mary were there to be taxed, Mary gave birth to Jesus. But after Joseph had paid taxes, they returned home to Nazareth, which is why Jesus grew up there.
Jesus was also born in Bethlehem in order to fulfill prophecy. Ancient prophets—like Isaiah—prophesied that the Savior of the world would be born in Bethlehem. So even though Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, Jesus was born while they were in Bethlehem in order to fulfill the prophecies of old and show that he was the Savior of all.
What Was Nazareth Like?
Jesus spent a large portion of his life in the small town of Nazareth in northern Galilee. Nazareth was near Sepphoris, which was one of the two major cities in Galilee (Tiberias was the other). Galilee was the northern part of Israel and considered part of Israel but also a distinct area—which is why Jesus is often called a Galilean. At the time, Nazareth only had fewer than 1,000 people at the time and was primarily an agricultural village. The name Nazareth means “watchtower,” and many in Israel considered the village to be in the middle of nowhere and insignificant.
What Is Significant about Jesus Growing Up in Nazareth?
Nazareth may have been a tiny village in Galilee, but it is a significant location to Christianity. Nazareth was the first place Jesus taught when he began his ministry. He wouldn’t be able to stay in Nazareth, but it was the first place he began teaching the gospel. Because Jesus began teaching in Nazareth, Nazareth marks the beginnings of Christianity. The gospel would later spread all across the globe and reach millions, but it began in this tiny town in Israel.
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