Although Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, He was raised in Nazareth and is often referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth” (Matthew 2:23, 21:11, 26:71; Mark 1:24, 6:1; Luke 2:39; John 1:45). During His childhood and early adult years, Jesus lived and worked in Nazareth, but also demonstrated His vast knowledge and wisdom through the teaching and explanation of the Scriptures (Matthew 13:54-56; Luke 2:51-52). Early in the ministry of Jesus, just after the temptation in the wilderness, all four of the Gospels record that Jesus said a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown (Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24; John 4:44). In what appears to be the last time Jesus taught in Nazareth, He read from the scroll of Isaiah and stated that this prophecy of Scripture has been fulfilled (Luke 4:17-21; Isaiah 61:1-2). In this reading, Jesus identified Himself as the prophesied Messiah and Redeemer who would bring the “good news” and free those in bondage to sin (cf. John 8:34; Romans 6:5-7). These were bold claims, especially to a group of people that had considered Jesus as just another member of their village. The Gospel of Luke gives the most extensive account of this episode, which ends with Jesus leaving Nazareth for the town of Capernaum after people in Nazareth rejected Him and tried to throw him off of a cliff (Luke 4:14-31). Although many scholars have claimed that there is no cliff at Nazareth from which Jesus could have been thrown off, and thus the account in Luke is historically inaccurate, there are multiple sites in and around Nazareth from which the people could have attempted to throw Jesus. Luke specifically calls this geographical feature a brow, crag, overhang, projection, or rim of a hill (Luke 4:29; Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon, 1279-1280). Therefore, it was a hill with some type of steep drop off. Luke also recorded that the people drove Jesus “out of the city” but it was still on the same hill that Nazareth had been built (Luke 4:29). Thus, the slope or cliff should be outside the boundaries of the ancient town, but on the same hill feature that the town occupied. Since Luke is no more specific than that, there are varying ideas on where the cliff may have been. The traditional location, called Mount Precipice, is about 1.5 miles from the city center. While it appears to fit the broad description in the text of Luke, the cliff may have been located nearer to the ancient village but now built over and no longer visible.
Why was Jesus without honor and rejected in His own hometown? Perhaps the people who saw Him grow up could not accept that He was anything beyond the boy and son of Joseph who worked as a carpenter or artisan and had lived in their village for years. Even His own family did not initially believe Jesus, but considered Him to be “out of His senses” (Mark 3:21-32; John 7:5). The saying “familiarity breeds contempt” seems to apply in this situation. For those who disregarded Jesus even though they had never known Him prior to His public ministry, the reasons varied from incorrect expectations about the Messiah to simple hardness of heart (Luke 16:31; John 6:46-47). Eventually, Jesus was also snubbed by most of the people in Jerusalem, and except for an initially small number of followers, He was generally rejected by Israel when He presented Himself as the Messiah. However, this rejection was in itself a fulfillment of prophecy (Matthew 21:42-45; Isaiah 53:2-3; Psalm 118:22). After the attempted cliff execution in Nazareth, Jesus relocated to Capernaum during His ministry around the Galilee region (Matthew 4:13). It was from Capernaum, strategically located on the coast of the Sea of Galilee and on a major road, that Jesus traveled around the area while teaching and performing miracles.