“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.” John 1.43-46
Our mid point of our ABC’s to Lenten journey continues with the letter “N” in which I have chosen Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus the Christ.
How can a town be representative of this journey to the cross? How can it spur us on towards holiness and hope as we walk toward Easter? Simple, Nazareth projects hope by overcoming incredible odds that “nothing good comes from Nazareth,” and in so doing, helps us realize our own mortality, sinfulness and limited obedience in following God.
When Jesus was gathering his disciples, he had in mind whom he was going to select. Jesus had already invited Andrew and Peter to follow, and now he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Upon hearing these words, Philip finds his friend Nathanael, whom Jesus had not yet met, and tells him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” To which Nathanael replies, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Philip says, “Come and see.”
Nazareth had a reputation. It was not Jerusalem nor even Hebron. It was not a prominent, wealthy or prestigious city. It wasn’t particular significant because it was neither a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee nor a trading port on the Mediterranean Sea.
“Nazareth’s archaeological record indicates that the inhabitants exploited the soft limestone in the area to build basements, cisterns, grain storage facilities, and olive and wine presses, reflecting its main economic enterprise-agriculture. Nazareth had no palaces, bathhouses, or paved streets, indicating that the people lived in humble homes that spread across a south-facing slope. It was an all-Jewish village that was most likely settled during the Hasmonean expansionist period just before Jesus Christ’s birth,” (https://jesus.christ.org/questions-and-answers/what-was-nazareth-like-in-the-first-century/).
If Nazareth was nothing special, then Jesus is what put it on the map. The fact that Jesus came from such humble beginnings, born of a virgin, an unmarried couple not of great wealth or prominence, from a town with no known importance tells us a lot about the Son of God who came “not to serve but to be served.” It’s no wonder what Nathanael said about this town, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Even though the town itself was nothing special, as one author writes, “the very source of all that is good came from Nazareth” (https://kairoscenter.org/can-anything-good-come-nazareth-sermon-celebrating-martin-luther-king/). This tells us, there is hope for us as well.
Can anything good come from Rusty? A sinner, saved by grace, imperfect in so many ways. Can anything good come from me? And the answer, of course, with God, is yes! By the power of the Holy Spirit, through the blood of Jesus that redeems us, good can come from us, it came from Nazareth and it will come through us.
As we weather these troubling times, global virus, economic shut down, social distancing, cling to the cross. Although our world has changed, God has not changed. Nothing about his nature is different today than it was last month. He is still sovereign. Jesus still died and rose from the cross. And Nazareth still produced the best person the world has ever seen.
“O Lord God, I am but your humble servant, walking through this world of uncertainly and change. But you do not change. You do not “change like shifting shadows,” James 1.17. You are good. You are sovereign. You are right. Thank you for loving us, for choosing us and for allowing us to walk in your grace. Come now, Beautiful Lord, I submit to you. I glorify you. I thank you for loving me. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen