John Chapter 1 gives an account of Jesus calling Phillip to follow him. Soon Philip came to Nathaniel and explained that they had found Jesus who is the person whom they had been seeking for ages. Jesus is the one written about in the law and the prophets, He is the Messiah and the King who is to reign forever.
Nathaniel's response was negative. "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" What does this say about common opinion of the place Nazareth? What does this say about Nathaniel?
If I were to ask, "Could anything good come out of Frankley, Rubery or B45?" It is almost like implying the place is a dump and the people rubbish. Ouch!
This reminds me of when I first started teaching at a secondary school just out of the area. Pupils occasionally asked me where I lived. I would answer "Rubery". There was only one association they had, hence came the next question."Oh, do you live at the mental hospital?" I would coldly answer back in a matter of fact type of way, "that's right, its ward 312 which is on the third floor if you want to visit" The cognitive dissonance I had created here ensured that no further questions ensued.
Frankley, Rubery B45 is a beautiful place on the edge of outstanding countryside and the natives, of which I remain one of, are generally straight and decent people.
I remember years ago as I was dropping a friend off after church in Frankley, my car broke down. A kind man came out of his house, made me a cup of coffee and loaned me his telephone to get help.
A more apt question would have been can any good come out of human flesh? The answer is clearly yes, even though we are born with sinful natures. We can sympathise with Nathaniel, we've all been there and done that and asked if we are any good? Our focus should be on the fact God is good. Jesus, the divine Son of God is good and by His grace and mercy, He can change us to become more like Him.
God has chosen to call, to equip and to use whoever He will. God uses even you or me, imperfect as we are. This is precisely what He does. He will equip those who are available with spiritual gifts. He equips the soul with a love for Him, for His righteousness and a love for others irrespective of whether or not we agree with them, choose to like them or even if we judge them to the point of asking, what good can come out of them?
Nathaniel asked, “Where did you come to know me?” Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Phillip called you." This was a revelation moment for Nathaniel. Only God Himself could have known that. Yes, this Jesus is the promised Messiah.
Our other reading recounts God calling Samuel and how Samuel kept going to the prophet Eli, as it seemed he had written off the idea that God Himself might want to talk directly to him. Eli realised it was God and so prepared Samuel for this.
I have said this to myself many times, "Don't write yourself off. Stop highlighting failures and believing you are no good". This places the focus in the wrong place. All that matters is that God is good. All He requires is for us to acknowledge the truth, learn to see things as He does, submit ourselves to Him and be willing to go His way. He will provide all we need as we journey to fulfil His purpose in our world.
Should we desire miracles as Jesus did? Of course! God will work miracles through us as we avail ourselves to him. He gives us His righteousness (as our own is of no worth) and He gives us His love.
The world will see how real our love is. They will know that we are Christians....... by our love.
our beginning and our end:
bring us with the whole creation
to your glory, hidden through past ages
and made known
in Jesus Christ our Lord.