Short Meditations in John 1: 46. A Question and an Answer
Jn 1:46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.
So often I find when talking with people they have questions which appear to hold them back, they have prejudices which are actually unfounded and which would be shown to be so if only they searched a little bit.
Philip has found his friend Nathaniel and told him that they have found the prophet that Moses spoke about and he is Jesus of Nazareth. It is at the mention of Nazareth that Nathaniel balks. Nazareth is up in Galilee and there is no mention of Nazareth in the Old Testament, it is a town with no prophetic heritage, one might say. Surely if the Messiah is going to come, he’s going to come from Jerusalem?
The wise men seeking Jesus obviously thought this: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Mt 2:1,2) No, the reality was that there was no expectation of the Messiah coming from the north. Indeed when the Pharisees were arguing among themselves and with Nicodemus, they declared, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” (Jn 7:52)
The trouble with prejudice is that it comes with a closed mind having set up its own limited beliefs for Isaiah had prophesied, “In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honour Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan– The people walking in darkness have seen a great light,” (Isa 9:1,2) so that had been prophecy about Galilee and the Messiah; it’s just that the teachers hadn’t seen it and taken it in!
When the little family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned to the land from Egypt, we find, “he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.” (Mt 2:23) Now there are not those exact words in the Old Testament but somewhere Matthew found that reference and for him it was quite legitimate for Jesus to come from Nazareth. This conversation would suggest that Nathaniel didn’t in fact come from the north, but that is unclear as we are not told. To his question comes the obvious reply: “Come and see.” Search and you will find!