Welcome back, fellow pilgrims. Today we will stop in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth and visit Mary’s well and the synagogue where Jesus quoted Isaiah to begin his ministry, as well as Mary’s home, now home to the Church of the Annunciation!
Our first visit will be to Mary’s Well, conveniently located in the center of downtown Nazareth, on the main road. The site is actually a modern water trough, built over the ancient trough; believe it or not, it is still currently used by the local women and animals as drinking water. The well gets its water through irrigation pipes from a natural spring about 200M north of the well. It’s remarkable to think this very same well has been used throughout the ages. According to tradition, this was the place where Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, was given the announcement by the angel Gabriel that she would become immaculately impregnated with the son of God. There is a small church is built over the well. Imagine the boy Jesus as he was growing up, visiting here every day to fetch the family drinking water.
The next place we stopped was the Synagogue, built on the highest point in town, where Jesus began his ministry by quoting Isaiah 61. Imagine the scene, as we did, by taking our place at the front of the holy temple to see the small beginnings of the world-wide, life-transforming, and history-making ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here’s an excerpt from Isaiah 61:1–3: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim he year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown fo beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” Now that’s a promise we can still claim today!
The final stop for today is Mary’s Home—the Church of the Annunciation—the towering cupola of the church in Nazareth stands over the cave that tradition holds to be the home of the Virgin Mary. The current building built over the original home was determined to be the fifth church to inhabit the site. The first church building was built 343 A.D. The outcome of Mary’s consent and response to the angel Gabriel’s news that Mary would bear God’s son is carved in Latin across the façade over the triple doorway entrance. “Let it be done according to your word.” And also carved in view was, “The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
Mary the mother of Jesus’ example still speaks to us today. In the midst of devastating news about her immanent crisis pregnancy, Mary offered herself willingly to God for His will and purpose. No questions asked. She showed you and me how to sing His praise, surrender, submit. In the same way, in the midst of our crisis of any of our trivial interrupted plans, God asks us to do the same. Sing His praise, surrender, submit. “But he knows the way I take; and when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” —Job 23:10
Stepping out in faith means, we don’t wait to see the bottom line, the end of the story, before we follow Him. Even if the path He leads us onto doesn’t seem like it’s in the right direction, we must fall into step. We tightly hold onto God’s hand, unwaveringly trust His lead, and believe we can rely on His wisdom. In a very short time, we find it’s much better when we are walking behind, and letting God lead us by faith becomes more of a joyful synchronized cadence instead of a march of drudgery. “My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.” —Job 23:11
I hate to break it to you, but this might mean your urgently important questions go unanswered. Will you say, like Mary, “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord, be it done to me according to your Word?” Through any challenge or trial in our lives, we each have a choice. For me, this was especially significant in the weeks after my first husband Paul was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident; I accepted God’s will and prayed Mary’s prayer each day: “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.”
I will see you tomorrow. Don’t miss it! We will visit Cana, where Jesus’ first miracle was performed.