The four Gospels of the New Testament provide us with rich and detailed accounts of the life of Jesus. For those of us who are followers of Jesus, it is incredible to have access to these accounts which give us windows into Jesus’ life. We read about His birth, His family, His public ministry, His death and ultimate resurrection.
The Gospels also tell us about where Jesus lived. Throughout His life, Jesus lived in different places at different times. In this blog we’re going to cover a quick overview of where Jesus lived, from His birth right through to His ascension to heaven.
Jesus, born in Bethlehem
The gospels of Matthew and Luke give us accounts of the events that led up to the birth of Jesus over 2000 years ago. One of the things the Gospels reveal is that Mary gave birth to Jesus in a place called Bethlehem. This was a town located in Judea, just south of Jerusalem. It is also referred to in the Old Testament, starting in Genesis 35:19; there are further references that closely connect Bethlehem with King David.
In Luke 2 we read that Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem in order to participate in a census. When in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus. As it says in Luke 2:6-7, “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.” Thus, Bethlehem was Jesus’ first place of residence.
The particular event of Jesus’ birth carries significance due to the fact that the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem had been prophesied many hundreds of years before. As we read in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
The detour to Egypt
Following on from Bethlehem, Jesus then spent time living in a different country completely: Egypt. We read in Matthew 2 that the plan of Mary and Joseph to return home from Bethlehem was interrupted by a supernatural dream.
In this dream, God warned Joseph that they should first go to Egypt. This was in order to protect Jesus’ life. Herod had given orders to kill all boys aged two and under and as such, Jesus’ life was in great danger.
As a result of this dream, Mary, Joseph and Jesus settled in Egypt “until the death of Herod”. We don’t know exactly how long the family lived in Egypt, but it is likely to have been a few years prior to their return to the town of Nazareth.
Returning to Nazareth
Once Herod died, the danger to Jesus was diminished. We read in the Gospel of Matthew that Joseph went on to have another supernatural dream. In this dream he was instructed by God to return to Israel. As it says in Matthew 2:20, the angel commanded Joseph: “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
As a result, the family moved to the town of Nazareth in Galilee. It was here that Jesus would remain for the rest of His childhood and early adult life. This is the reason that Jesus became known as a Nazarene. It was also from Nazareth that his public ministry began. Nazareth was a small town in the hills of Israel, which wasn’t particularly well known at the time. The people of that region rejected the teachings of Jesus when He began His ministry and from that time He moved throughout Israel.
Public ministry in Capernaum
At the commencement of His public ministry, Jesus based Himself in a town called Capernaum, situated on the Sea of Galilee. The Gospels mention Capernaum numerous times as being a base for Jesus to preach, minister and disciple.
Matthew’s gospel tells us in Matthew 4:13 that, “Leaving Nazareth, He went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali.” Again, Matthew ties this particular life event to a prophecy. This time he explicitly refers to Jesus’ move to Capernaum as being a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-2.
From Capernaum it appears that Jesus travelled widely through the regions of Galilee, Samaria and Judea, healing the sick and speaking of the kingdom of heaven. It appears that Jesus had no fixed home, instead staying in the homes of friends and followers. He instructed His disciples in Luke 9 to travel light and also said He had “nowhere to lay His head.”
Throughout His ministry, Jesus travelled to Jerusalem and this was where He was captured and crucified.
Ascension to Heaven
Ultimately, we know that Jesus’ final destination and place of eternal residence is the right hand of the Father. In the Gospels we read that Jesus ascended to heaven in order to spend eternity with His Father. Luke tells us that Jesus returned to Bethany with His disciples, a place He visited many times during His ministry, where He “left them and was taken up into heaven”.
While Jesus has ascended to heaven, He has not become distant nor unreachable. In fact, the purpose of Jesus’ ascension was to prepare a place for me and you. As we read in John 14:1-4, Jesus went to the right hand of the Father in order to prepare for each of us an eternal place of rest.
While Jesus lived in many places on earth, His true home is with the Father. And this truth is the same for each of us. We may live in earthly homes, but our eternal and final resting place is the eternal presence of God.
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