Sepphoris is an old Roman city just three miles from the smaller town of Nazareth. At the time of Jesus’ birth, Sepphoris was a bustling city with a population of thousands. It was a center of culture, both Hebrew and Greek, and many townspeople of the much more modest Nazareth worked in Sepphoris. In the ruins of Sepphoris are traces of its former glory. You can still see outlines of luxurious homes and their colorful mosaic floors, the most famous of which is the “Madonna of the Galilee.”
From these ruins, you can look down to the small village of Nazareth, where Mary and her family lived. An easy three-mile walk brings you to Mary’s hometown.
Today, 72,000 people live in the city of Nazareth, and 210,000 live along the hillsides of greater Nazareth. But in Jesus’ day, Nazareth was a tiny village of just a few hundred.
The Orthodox Church of the Annunciation is a beautiful structure built over the spring that originally brought settlers to Nazareth. In his ministry Jesus referred to “living water,” and beneath the church we can still see the spring of living water that he may have envisioned as he said those words.
This selection is from the new book, Walking the Road to Bethlehem.