"Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found him about whom Moses and the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth. Nathanael said to him, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, 'Come and see.'" - John 1:45-46
There's no Starbucks, no arty cinema, no hip eatery there. No funky downtown or cool, gentrified neighborhoods. You wouldn't go there for a memorable evening out. And yet it's the Messiah's home town. Believe it or not.
Nathanael doesn't believe it. Nazareth is a joke. Can anything good come out of there?
Sometimes we keep quiet when someone makes a bigoted remark. Not Philip. He challenges Nathanael, "Come and see." To his credit, Nathanael goes with Philip, meets Jesus, and discovers among other things that he'd been kind of a jerk for asking, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" when the more pertinent question was, "Can anything good come out of me?" The answer, thankfully, is yes. By the grace of God, he becomes a disciple.
How grateful Nathanael must have been at the end of his life to have been so wrong about Nazareth.
Sometimes the longest and most difficult journey is not from place to place, but from assumption to experience, from contempt to embrace, from fear to hospitality, from judgment to love.
Costly, this journey. But, oh, the grace of it!
Holy Spirit, grant us the grace of being wrong. Invite us into the company of the good man who came out of Nazareth. Reorder what we value and desire so that his mercy may come out of us, undeterred by assumptions, judgment, or contempt.
Mary Luti is Visiting Professor of Christian History and Worship at Andover Newton Theological School, Newton, Massachusetts.