My Question: Where was Jesus born?

(Krystal Kaptain) #1

Hi everyone,

I am having a debate with an atheist, a personal friend of mine, who is confused about scripture as far as where Jesus was born. Since he was called Jesus of Nazareth, was he born there? But wasn’t he born in Bethlehem?
My naive response was that Nazareth was the title given in his adolescence after he moved. But he wants cold hard facts of the titling of his name and where Jesus was actually born. I’d anyone can help I’d be grateful thank you! God Bless

(Kathleen) #2

Hi, @Kaptain! A very apt question for this time of year!

Short answer: He was supposed to be born in Nazareth, but God had other plans.

Two Gospel writers mention Jesus being born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1, Luke 1:1-8) and the other two (Mark and John) aren’t that interested in recording that detail. Luke is the only one who records the reason for Mary and Joseph being in Bethlehem when the birth occurs. According to him, they had to travel to register for the census.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

So the place where Joseph had his life (presumably as a carpenter) was Nazareth, therefore he and Mary returned there to raise Jesus. So, though he was born in Bethlehem, Jesus was raised in Nazareth, which is why he is referred to as Jesus of Nazareth. (One of my favourite side comments recorded in Scripture is by Nathanael, who, when hears from his brother Philip that he has met the Messiah, quips, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’)

As it is crucial that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem (to fulfil the prophecies of old), the birthplace of Jesus is a detail that some skeptics love to argue. So be aware that there is a thread of scholarship (whether it’s thorough or sloppy scholarship, I don’t know) that would make the case that Jesus was not born in Bethlehem.

Is that helpful? I’m sure some others can weigh in with other angles. :slight_smile:

(Krystal Kaptain) #3

Thank you for your description! This is in fact the same argument that he is aware of, but I wasn’t sure if there was any more information out there. Do you know of any other prophesies that Jesus fulfills from old?

(Kathleen) #4

Off the top of my head, here are a few OT prophecies/promises that Jesus is linked to…

  1. the Servant of Isaiah 42, 49-50, 52-53
  2. the child in Isaiah 9
  3. the Good Shepherd of Ezekiel 34
  4. Jesus linked Himself (as recorded in Luke 4) to Isaiah 61:1-2.
  5. the king riding on the donkey in Zechariah 9:9

There are many more! Plus, the OT is full of types and figures that find their fulfilment in Jesus.

(Krystal Kaptain) #5

@KMac thank you so much for your help! I’ll report back with what I get

(Kathleen) #6

Love that you’re engaging on the street with folks, @Kaptain! will be praying. I would encourage you, if you haven’t already, to read those OT passages and find a couple that really resonate with you. Ones that make you say, ‘Yes. This is Jesus!’ I find that I speak more confidently when I speak from my own experience of connecting the dots rather than from someone telling me how the dots are connected. :blush:

PS I’m sure you could google something like “Jesus Old Testament prophecies” and some more comprehensive lists will come up!

(Krystal Kaptain) #7

@KMac, after taking with him he came to admitting that Jesus was real and denounced his sources of information. He still doesn’t believe he’s God, but it’s a very good start! You have to meet people where they’re at. Thank you for your advice!

(Joy Bittner) #8

So, my next question is this . If Mary departed Nazareth with Joseph as his betrothed then gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem when was they married. I guess I assumed she conceived while a virgin but somewhere between that time and birthing they where married. Was Joseph and Mary married when Jesus was born?

(Kathleen) #9

Hello, @Joy_Bittner! That’s a very good question. According to Gospel writers Matthew and Luke, it seems they were married at the time they traveled to Bethlehem.

Matthew records:

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

So it seems that Joseph, though he initially wanted to break the engagement (i.e. divorce her), took Mary home at the angel’s encouragement and married her before she gave birth to Jesus.

Luke, however, doesn’t mention when the wedding took place, but it doesn’t seem to make much sense for Mary to accompany him to Bethlehem if they weren’t already married.

:blush: Anything else stand out to you?

(Joy Bittner) #10

Well, thank you for that. I just didn’t know and was wondering how the standard 12 month betrothal period would have fit in.

(Kathleen) #11

That’s a very interesting about the standard betrothal period. I’ve not been taught that before. Who speaks specifically on that? I’d be interested to know more. :slight_smile: