The 40-mile Jesus Trail and the 39-mile Gospel Trail are two hiking trails through Galilee that re-create possible routes Jesus may have walked when He left Nazareth for Capernaum near the beginning of his ministry (Luke 4:16-37).
Jesus undoubtedly traversed all or parts of these trails during His sojourns in Galilee. Click Jesus Trail vs. Gospel Trail for a comparative evaluation of the two trails.
Starting with this post on Nazareth, this Hike the Bible series will have posts about points of interest along these two Galilean trails. Points of interest that I’ll discuss lie primarily along the Jesus Trail, because I think that trail is more interesting, and because it has more Biblically-relevant sites. After discussing the Galilean points of interest, this Hike the Bible series will continue with reviews of other major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
The Jesus Trail begins in Nazareth. The Gospel Trail does not include Nazareth; it begins several miles south at Mt. Precipice. The Jesus Trail includes Mt. Precipice at the end of its return leg.
The Fauzi Azar Inn in Nazareth is a good place to spend the night before starting either the Jesus Trail or the Gospel Trail. The Fauzi offers both dorm beds and private rooms and even has free internet and wi-fi.
The Fauzi is owned and run by Maoz Inon, one of the co-founders of the Jesus Trail and a co-founder of Israel Hostels, a network of 30 independent hostels throughout Israel.
Nazareth is about 16 miles directly west of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee, or about 26 miles by road.
Nazareth is the largest city in northern Israel with a population of 70,000. Today it’s primarily Arabic. Metro-Nazareth has a population of 210,000, 60% Arabs and 40% Jews. It’s the largest Arab metropolis in Israel.
Click Nazareth Cultural and Tourism Association for historical, cultural, and tourist information on Nazareth.
The Nazareth Village is a live presentation of the life, times, and teachings of Jesus. It recreates Nazareth as a Galilean farming village from the time of Jesus.
Nazareth’s Most Famous Son
Jesus is the most prominent person of history, and Nazareth was His hometown. Nazareth is where the angel Gabriel announced His birth to Mary (Luke 1:26-38), and Nazareth was His home from the time of His return from Egypt as a child till about the age of 30. Although born in Bethlehem, He grew up in Nazareth.
Even Pontius Pilate identified Him as “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews” in the inscription he placed on the cross in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek (John 19:19-20).
After the Resurrection, the angel addressing the women at the tomb identified Him as “Jesus the Nazarene” (Mark 16:1-8).
The risen Christ identified Himself as “Jesus the Nazarene” when He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:6-8).
Why was His Nazareth heritage so important? Why was it repeatedly emphasized?
First, it roots Jesus in space-time history. He was a real man who grew up 2,000 years ago in a real town in the land of Israel. He’s not a myth, legend, or figment of someone’s imagination.
Second, Nazareth was a humble, even despised, place of origin. Nathaniel sneered, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” when Philip told him Jesus of Nazareth was the prophesied Messiah (John 1:45-46). This fits the profile of the humble servant of Isaiah 53 who grew up “like a root out of parched ground, … despised and forsaken of men.”
Third, it connects Jesus with Old Testament prophecy. Matthew wrote that He grew up in Nazareth to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:19-23)
Matthew was probably referring to this messianic prophecy:
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:1-2)
Isaiah said the Messiah was to be a shoot (Hebrew: netzer). The attribution “Nazarene” to Jesus was a 2-fold description in that He was from Nazareth as well as a netzer (shoot or branch) from the stem of Jesse.
The Synagogue of Nazareth is where Jesus announced His mission and implicitly His identity as Messiah. The listeners were so enraged at His words that they sought to throw Him off a nearby cliff, traditionally believed to be Mt. Precipice (Luke 4:14-30).
Jesus was not well-received in his hometown. When He returned later, the townspeople were skeptical, and He did no miracles in Nazareth except for a few healings because of the unbelief. (Mark 6:1-6)
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the fourth installment in the Hike the Bible series reviewing major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
Read the prequels:
1. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail (with video)
2. Hike the Bible – Gospel Trail (with video)
3. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail vs. Gospel Trail
Read the sequel:
5. Hike the Bible – Zippori
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Wednesday February 8, 2012 A.D.
Read my February 2012 newspaper column:
What’s Wrong with Polygamy?
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)