First Century Nazareth Village https://youtu.be/pHst1FAC4bk
John 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
Nazareth. The place of Jesus conception; The childhood home of Jesus once He returned from Egypt. Nazareth is in the northern part of Judea. An agricultural community known for its grapes. It was an area known to be wicked and its people “mean.” A community whose character was negative, to put it mildly, and yet living among this people was the Prince of Peace. Nazareth is derived from the Hebrew word meaning “branch” and many theologians believe it is referenced back to the prophecy found in Isaiah 11:1-10: There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
Nazareth was a small (population 500-1500) secluded, obscure hamlet, perched on a hill. We know based on scripture it did have a synagogue for we read in Luke 4:16: “And He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” It was here in His hometown He declared His purpose and mission.
Among the Jews, Nazareth could be compared to the slums of the inner city. It was held as a place of “ill repute” and it referenced its people with great prejudice as evidenced by Nathanael’s remark. Remarks like this are felt among ethnic groups when prejudice is felt against a person, place or religion. Jesus Himself said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24) In fact, there was much prejudice, racism, and hate, “They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him off the cliff.” (Luke 4:29) There really is nothing new under heaven. We see this kind of behavior against groups on the news nearly every night. In this scripture the people of Nazareth are attempting to end Jesus life prematurely. These were his “friends and relatives”! We can ask the question, “ With friends like this, who needs enemies?”
God chose Nazareth to remind us He uses “unlikely places where not much happens,” to do some of His greatest works. We need not look down our proverbial noses at the “unlikely” for God will use them every time. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (I Corinthians 1:27 NIV) Maybe this is why Jesus spent most of His time going from village to village instead of the cities. (Mark 6:6)
Here in the South, we are known for our prejudice, bigotry, and racism. Sad, but true. I would like to think we have gotten better but the facts point to how divided we still are. Jesus Himself experienced first hand the cutting knife of prejudice and racism. He was a Jew: Hated by the world. He was a Nazarene: Hated by the Jews. He was an itinerant teacher. How could one so educated (a Rabbi) be satisfied with such a lowly existence? He was misunderstood by most everyone in His hometown except His own mother.
“The spirit of Nazareth echoes today in every ostracized and occupied city and country, where outsiders are expecting no good thing from. Nazareth is our Detroit, Rio de Janeiro, Calcutta, Selma, Inglewood, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Palestine.” Jesus lived in the community of the least. Are you from Slapout, Cuba, Brooklyn, Chinatown, Syria or some other obscure spot where you are considered a “nobody?” Jesus was the gift to the world from a rural community and you are God’s gift to the world. Nathanael was narrow minded and his comment regarding the tiny community of Nazareth reveals this attitude. Phillip by simply saying “come and see,” demonstrated his recognition of the value of each human being regardless of their social status, heritage, place of abode, education, religion, or political view.
The temptation to listen to the sneers of others and stay sequestered in Nazareth was as real for Jesus as for you and I. It is a ploy of the enemy, who is always seeking to prevent the God given plans from being realized in our lives. Even Jesus had to keep His eyes on the Father. (Jeremiah 29:11)
We must remember, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” (I Corinthians 12:18) We are where we are because this is where God has placed us to accomplish His purpose and plan in our lives and the lives we will intersect. Be thankful for your race, your heritage, your descent, your occupation, your hobbies, your home, and even your wrong choices. You are not a mistake!!! Nathanael who once questioned if anything good could come from Nazareth soon came to understand “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” (John 1:49)
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