God in Unexpected Places
Nazareth did not have a good reputation. The Roman army had polluted its religious culture; so too had many Gentiles who passed through on the nearby trade roads. Nazareth had no reputation for holiness, for which Jerusalem and Hebron were noted. So when Philip found his friend Nathanael, and told him about Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael was not impressed. How could God’s Messiah be the son of a carpenter from Nazareth?
Philip’s response was simple and wise. He did not try to defeat his friend’s prejudice and ignorance with argument, but invited him to ‘come and see’. Truth is the only antidote to false belief; and Philip knew that an encounter with Jesus would demonstrate all Nathanael needed to know. Philip was already proving to be a disciple of Jesus. Not only did he seek out his friend and recommend Jesus to him, but Philip also copied the words Jesus spoke the previous day –‘come and see’ (John 1:39).
Whatever prejudice people may have about Jesus, they need the truth. For many, this starts by seeing the positive confidence about Jesus in a friend or colleague. Then, those who seek the truth will welcome an invitation to explore who Jesus is. But often, people are astonished that God should be found in ordinary places, or even the morally polluted parts of our cities. Religions have often supposed that God is ‘locked up’ in holy places. So people are surprised to find that Jesus can be encountered anywhere: in the factory or fields, in prisons or palaces, in universities and among the world’s under-classes. In each of these places, Jesus is represented by His people and He goes with them to suburbs or slums, cities and communes; to meet the lost and lonely and welcome them to come and see who He is.
© Dr Paul Adams