January 12, 2010

on the Supposed Infrequency of Jesus' Homecomings

Jesus' Nazareth homecoming(s?) are retold in Luke 4, Mark 6 and Matthew 13. Today, instead of discussing whether the Lord took one or two trips home, I just want to make a side point.

From his baptism until Palm Sunday, Jesus spent three or four years in the public eye. More than half of that time was spent in Galilee. Therefore, the question is not - did he go home one time or two? The question is - why should we think he would go back only once or twice?

Nazareth was about 20 miles from the Lord's new home in Capernaum. That's a one day trip for a fit, thirty-something on foot. His sisters were still there, probably raising his nieces and nephews. His father died at some point (see John 6:24,42,59) and that may have deserved a visit. Besides those details, Jesus was traveling all over, all the time, anyway. Why would he NOT go back to Nazareth at least once a year? (Yes, I know what Jesus said about prophets in hometowns and the importance of "hating" one's family, but he also spoke of honoring them as well.)

Obviously we'd be speculating to suppose that he went back a lot, and I wouldn't try to claim more than two trips for certain, at most. Examining the details of the Gospels may convince some more than others, but Luke does tell a much different story than Matthew and Mark. At any rate, my point today is merely that one or two homecomings (in a two, three or four year ministry) is just not all that much.

From a historical perspective, we must realize he could have gone home as frequently as he so desired.

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