My mind is blown. I remember having my mind blown over and over again when Jodi and I toured Israel in 2013. During that trip I learned so much about Israel. It was amazing! I am very thankful for that trip and I feel like it set a solid foundation for this trip.
This trip has been completely different. Same land, totally different experience.
During this trip I am learning so much about Jesus. It has been mind-blowing, heart-stirring, and wildly refreshing.
We drove from Jerusalem to the Galilee region this morning. It was about a 2 hour drive. Our first stop in the region was at the remains of a city known as Sepphoris.
Sepphoris does not necessarily show up in the Bible (though there may be some references to it in the Old Testament). It was a fairly “major” city (probably around 25,000 inhabitants) located right next to Nazareth. It would be about a 3 mile walk from Nazareth to Sepphoris.
During the lifetime of Jesus, Nazareth would have been a very small village (probably 300-500 inhabitants) and Sepphoris would have been the place where inhabitants of Nazareth would go to the market. This means that Jesus likely spent quite a bit of time in Sepphoris.
We know that Jesus was a carpenter, but that word likely does not mean what we typically think it means. We typically think of a carpenter as being a woodworker (think saws and wood), and that certainly may be the case. Perhaps a more accurate picture of Jesus’ vocation as a carpenter is less of a woodworker and more of a stone worker. So much of what was being built in the first century was crafted out of stone, not wood.
Sepphoris had no shortage of stone crafting to be done. The city belonged to Herod Antipas. The Galilee region was given to Herod Antipas to rule after Herod the Great died. Herod Antipas inherited a fairly broken down Sepphoris and called for all of the craftsmen in the area to come to work and rebuild the city. It is highly likely that Joseph (the husband of Mary) would have been among the craftsmen who helped to rebuild Sepphoris, and Jesus would have worked right alongside of Joseph.
Surely Jesus spent a great deal of time in this city.
Jesus grew up right along the Via Mara, the pathway to the world. He would have been exposed to all of the major cultures and demographics of his day. The Via Mara was a major trade route that had access to the Great Sea. Sepphoris was a devout Jewish community with a strong Roman influence. Even Samaria was just over the other hill.
Jesus used the culture and demographics in his many illustrations. He was just as quick to talk about banquets and fine linens as he was to talk about sheep and farming. He had been exposed to it all. He was able to run in many very different circles.
I began to form a very different picture in my mind as I imagine the Jesus who grew up in this amazing location… at the crossroads of the known world.