I am Nazareth
by Youth Pastor Javin van Kaam
I can’t stand the city of Jacksonville, Florida. Ok, I’m sure it’s not all bad but on two separate visits there my life was threatened. How would you feel? At one point in time I definitely felt that nothing good could come from that city and related it to the armpit of our state! However, upon some maturing over the years, I can admit that the city must have some redeemable value and my experiences only represent one misguided perception… right? Maybe someday I’ll give it another chance. Maybe.
Despite my feelings on one of Florida’s largest cities, it’s easy to think of a place, a town, a street, or a neighborhood that has a reputation for being a place no one would elect to live or even want to visit. Nazareth was such a place. It was a small, obscure town, with no paved roads or bathhouses or palaces. It was a humble place to live. In John chapter 1 we see the gathering of the Disciples and I love the response that Nathanael gives upon hearing that the Messiah came from Nazareth.
“You’ve got to be kidding… nothing good ever comes from Nazareth!” (Javin translation – read along in verse 46 in your own)
The mere thought that the Messiah would come from such a worthless place was laughable! However, the history of this small town was about to change forever. No one would ever be able to say, “nothing good ever comes from there” ever again. In fact, I imagine that Nazareth went and got them a little plaque that said, “We’re just a small town but oh that’s right, the messiah was from here!” God redeemed a little obscure town from its miserable past.
Only one verse later Nathanael approaches Jesus and Jesus points at him and says, “Here comes a man of truth!” (Again… my translation) He explains to Nathanael that he had seen Him prior to their meeting. In fact, little known to Nathanael, but Ephesians tells us that even before the foundations of the world were laid he had Nathanael (and all of us) in mind!
What an incredible difference between the ways we see things and the way God sees. We look at the outside and make a judgment while He looks at the creation that He loves and calls us as we were created to be. He looks at the heart. He knows us as we are. He knows the real you! For the believer, He knows you as you are in Him.
I am so thankful that God didn’t look at the earth and say, “nothing ever good comes from the earth” but instead went into the place where nothing good ever came and redeemed it! Just as in the case of Nazareth he plants himself right in the middle of the mess and completely transforms its past, present, and future.
I am Nazareth. I was once a hopeless mess that some would have said nothing good ever came. Jesus never saw me that way. Instead, He saw me as the one whom He had in mind before He laid the foundations of the world. It was worth his sacrifice to redeem me and make me His own and I will never be the same!