Today’s Devotional Verse: John 1:46. Can Anything Good Come Out of Nazareth?



In the book of John Chapter 1:46, we are introduced to one of the disappointing comments or response a witnessing Christian ever experiences; can anything good (or at least better than I have or it is now) come out of knowing your Jesus? And if you have ever been hit by such a response (either from someone else or even from within you yourself) about your Jesus or even your life, let me hope today’s devotional verse brings the real hope into your life and offers something great and fresh to hold on.
 
Seriously, the history of Nazareth as a small area in the Northern district of Israel has or had nothing big or great to show! Both archeologists and historical authors agree that this was a remote village in times of Jesus and was not famous for anything but the notorious crucifixions of Jews by Romans! 

Concerning these executions, professor Paul Anderson says that about 2,000 Jews were crucified by Romans as a payback for the ‘revolt’ that had ended up robbing the Roman armory that was based in Sepphoris, the nearest (about 4 miles from Nazareth) developed city. Anderson adds that these brutal killings again happened shortly after Jesus’ return from Egypt (when he, Jesus, was a boy) as Romans retaliated against the Galilean man, Judas, who had started out a tax revolt against Romans.

Besides the above poor political image, Nazareth was generally a backward little village in faraway ends of Galilee and indeed it made no sense to have someone powerful, moreover the Messiah, come from such a primitive background. Indeed, some authors claim that Jesus getting lost while with his parents in the city of Jerusalem implied how a villager he was! But, of course, the gospels reveal that this wasn’t the case; Jesus was on God’s mission (Luke 2:49).


Interpreting the verse
 
Back to our point today, Philip, after deciding to follow Jesus (John 1:43) invites his immediate friend, Nathanael; we have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law! And Nathanael, aware of all the dirtiness (murderous acts in Nazareth) and backwardness of that small village, screams; that can’t be! Nothing really good, moreover good as Jesus, the Messiah talked of, can come out of unknown but notorious place like Nazareth! And you know what! Nathanael was not alone; thousands many more despised Jesus and His home town (see John 7:41-42; John 7:52; 18:5-7; 19:19; Acts 16:4; 24:5 and more). The Bible clearly says He was rejected in his hometown (Matthew 13:53-58). 

As always, we like to point out the context (and most especially the immediate one-verses or paragraphs surrounding the verse in study) and today’s context is clear; Jesus is in his hometown or city (or Galilee) and its witness or evangelism time! He calls Philip first who later calls his friend. Clear. 

Back to the point, Philip does something we fail often; he doesn’t argue a lot or convince his friend with facts and sophisticated statistics. Instead, he says to Nathanael, come and see!
Now that is magical. Yes, to have what to show and not necessarily what to say is a great asset of a witnessing Christian.

And when Jesus notices Nathanael coming, he comments; here comes an Israelite (on heart, not on flesh) without deceit (verse 47). Nathanael's comment regarding Nazareth was not about him being a bad man but an honest and a good one. 

Listen, many prophetic recordings about Jesus had said of Him being born in Bethlehem and not Nazareth (Micah 5:2). Seriously, there is nowhere (most scholars agree) in the Bible (OT) that it is or was directly prophesied that Jesus would live in Nazareth. And yet Matthew (2:23) confesses that prophets had said He (Jesus) would be a Nazarene!

Concerning the above small paradox, theologians agree that Nazarene is mentioned indirectly when Northern hemisphere under Roman control is mentioned or, more so, when Jesus and his birthplace are prophesied to be despised, belittled, and scorned (see Psalm 22:6, 13; 69:10, and Isaiah 49:7; 53:3; Micah 5:1).

Anyway, it is clear that, combined with the previous evil reports and backward status of Nazareth, he (Nathanael) was right to comment the way he did. And yet he was faithful enough and great truth-seeker that he responded to Philip’s invitation to go and prove himself wrong or right. And in my view, I believe he truly hoped he was wrong; he was an honest Galilean man waiting for the Messiah as well. 

Of course, Jesus’ comment in no way indicates that Nathanael was holy but was a gesture of God’s receptive arms and love, even for the minutest act of love or faith we exercise. Our salvation still entirely lies on His grace and not our own making of any kind.

Bring the encounter into your life


Whether people say it loud and openly or silently in their hearts and minds, they will at one time question your Christianity or even personal life basing on the reports and background they know. So many people take Jesus or those who follow him as losers, unwise, non-sophisticated, and ‘villagers’ who are lost to the world of growth, wonders, and complexity of today’s world. And every time the gospel is preached, they wonder; can anything amazingly good (or actually better than the life we already have or already miss) come out of knowing Jesus?

And Philip advises us to always reply like this; come and see!

Also, in relation to motivation and inspiration of this verse, many people can be tempted to judge your potentials, purpose and heights in reference to where you come from, your parents, family background, education background or even your health and social status, but our God who sees far into our past, present, and future usually uses the despised ones to make great impact. Please, can you trust him one more time?

Do you remember the story of David? It’s recorded in 1 Samuel 16. 

David was the youngest of all his brothers and wasn’t a soldier, warrior, or known business man but a shepherd. It is clear that when prophet Samuel asks Jesse to parade his all sons before him (the prophet or the Lord) so the chosen one can be picked out, Jesse intentionally leaves out David. And his reasoning was this; oh, he is young, neither a business man nor a warrior but just a shepherd. Surely, he can’t do anything, moreover a big thing as kings do for people or for God (verse 11).  

Surprisingly, the shepherd was the one to be a king! God’s works are amazing! (verse 12).

Application of the message

Can anything good come out of knowing Christ, your poverty, your cancer and poor health, your illiteracy and unknowing, your poor family background or unfriendly neighborhood? I mean, what is that in your life that makes you feel like nothing good that can come out of you or, put rightly, your Jesus, your God?

Whatever Nazareth represents in your life, just know that something amazingly good can come out of it if God wills so. Indeed, Jesus, the true messiah came out of Nazareth, the unknown and backward village! And the same Jesus who dwells in you can or is already doing amazing things. Pray that people's eyes get opened so they can see!

Today’s message challenges us to invite people to just come and see and they will be amazed at what Jesus is and can do in our lives and theirs. God bless you so much.

The Complete You Ministry, www.nemvicx.com




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Born from Uganda, Nemeyimana Vicent (Nemvicx) has become what people call, "coming from nothing to something". Professionally, he is both a nurse and public health officer and currently works with Mulago National Referral Hospital. In 2016, he wedded his wife and great sweetheart, Amulen Winfred (also a professional Midwife and counsellor). Besides their professions, Nemvicx is an inspirational writer, singer, motivational speaker, author of several digital books. He a theologian and blogger at www.nemvicx.com (The Complete You Ministry).

Contact them at thecompletey@gmail.com