Jesus left the shores of the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum to return to Nazareth to teach the people there.
And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? (Matthew 13:53-54 ESV)
When he left Nazareth He “went about among the villages teaching” (Mark 6:6).
When I see the scene depicted at Nazareth Village of the stone house, the olive trees, and the dusty path, I recall the visits Jesus and His disciples made throughout Galilee.
Lois Tverberg, in her excellent book Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, has written a helpful work about Jesus and His teaching drawing on the Jewish concept of the rabbi and his disciples.
The way Jesus taught his first disciples was not unique but part of a wider tradition in Judaism that began a few centuries before his time. Jesus didn’t hand his disciples a textbook or give them a course syllabus. He asked each one of them to follow him— literally, to “walk after” him. He invited them to trek the byways at his side, living life beside him to learn from him as they journeyed. His disciples would engage in life’s activities along with him, observing his responses and imitating how he lived by God’s Word.
Out of this unusual teaching method arose a well-known saying: you should learn from a rabbi by “covering yourself in his dust.” You should follow so closely behind him as he traveled from town to town teaching that billows of sandy granules would cling to your clothes. As you walked after your rabbi, your heart would change. This will be our task in this book, to stroll through Jesus’ ancient world at his side, listening to his words with the ears of a disciple. (Walking in the Dust of the Rabbi Jesus, Zondervan, p. 28)
There must have been a buzz of excitement when Jesus and His disciples walked the dusty paths of Nazareth, and indeed, of all Galilee.
When Jesus came to Nazareth He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and participated in the study.
Lee Levine of Hebrew University summarizes the archaeological evidence for known first century synagogues.
Solid archaeological evidence for the first-century synagogue is attested at eight sites in Judea: Masada, Herodium, Jerusalem (the Theodotos inscription from the City of David), Qiryat Sefer, and Modi’in (both in western Judea), with a possible additional site at Horvat ‘Etri, south of Bet Shemesh. In the Galilee, it is found at Gamla, Migdal, and quite probably Khirbet Qana, with considerably less certain remains from Capernaum, Chorazin, and at a second site in Migdal. (Lee I. Levine, “The Synagogues of Galilee” in Fiensy and Strange, Galilee in the late second temple and mishnaic periods, Vol. I. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014. 129-150.)
The New Testament writers mention other synagogues such as the one at Nazareth.
It is unfortunate that the residents of Nazareth did not want to get dusty. Are you dusty from following Jesus?
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