“[Pilate] entered into the governor’s palace again and said to Jesus: ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer.”
THE Roman Governor Pontius Pilate asked that question when Jesus was on trial for his life.* Pilate knew which part of Israel that Jesus came from. (Luke 23:6, 7) He also knew that Jesus was far from being an ordinary man. Was Pilate wondering whether Jesus had lived before? Was this pagan ruler really willing to accept and act upon the truth? Whatever the case, Jesus refused to answer, and it soon became clear that Pilate was more interested in his own career than in truth and justice.
Thankfully, those who sincerely want to know where Jesus came from can easily find out. The Bible plainly reveals the origin of Jesus Christ. Consider the following.
Where he was born
Modern calculations show that in the early fall of what is now called 2 B.C.E., Jesus was born under humble conditions in the Judean village of Bethlehem. A registration ordered by Caesar Augustus compelled Jesus’ mother, Mary, when “heavy with child,” and her husband, Joseph, to travel to Bethlehem, the place of Joseph’s ancestry. Unable to find lodging in the crowded village, the couple had to make use of a stable, where Jesus was born and placed in a manger.
Centuries earlier, a Bible prophecy foretold the place of Jesus’ birth: “You, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, the one too little to get to be among the thousands of Judah, from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel.”* (Micah 5:2) Bethlehem was apparently too small to be listed among the cities of the territory of Judah. Yet, this little village would have a unique honor. The promised Messiah, or Christ, would come from Bethlehem.
Where he was raised
After a brief stay in Egypt, Jesus’ family moved to Nazareth, a city in the province of Galilee about 60 miles (96 km) north of Jerusalem. At that time, Jesus was less than three years old. Here in this picturesque region where farmers, shepherds, and fishermen plied their trades, Jesus grew up in a large family, likely in modest circumstances.
Centuries in advance, the Bible foretold that the Messiah would be “a Nazarene.” Gospel writer Matthew says that Jesus’ family came to dwell in “Nazareth, that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’” (Matthew 2:19-23) The name Nazarene seems to be related to the Hebrew word for “sprout.” Evidently, Matthew was referring to Isaiah’s prophecy that called the Messiah “a sprout” out of Jesse, meaning that the Messiah would be a descendant of Jesse, father of King David. (Isaiah 11:1) Jesus was, in fact, a descendant of Jesse through David.
Where he originally came from
The Bible teaches that Jesus’ life began long before he was born in that stable in Bethlehem. The prophecy of Micah, quoted earlier, goes on to say that His “origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite.” (Micah 5:2) As God’s firstborn Son, Jesus was a spirit creature in heaven before he was born as a human on earth. Jesus himself said: “I have come down from heaven.” (John 6:38; 8:23) How was this possible?
By means of holy spirit, Jehovah God performed the miracle of transferring the life of his heavenly Son to the womb of the Jewish virgin Mary so that he could be born as a perfect human.* Such a miracle is easily within the power of Almighty God. As the angel who explained matters to Mary put it, “with God no declaration will be an impossibility.”
The Bible does more than just tell us something about where Jesus came from. The four Gospels
For more information about the arrest and trial of Jesus, see the article “The Most Infamous Trial Ever Held,” on pages 18-22 of this issue.
Ephrathah (or Ephrath) is evidently an earlier name of Bethlehem.
Jehovah is the name of God as revealed in the Bible.