A question of origin
John 1: 43-46 (NRSVA)
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ 46 Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’
How ready are you to tell people the home town where you grew up? Over the years, when I’m talking to guests at the Scargill community where I live and work, they are hard put to work out that I grew up in Wolverhampton, as those living there have a specific West Midlands accent. I left my home town when I was 19 and my accent has shifted. Like with every area of the UK, our accent colours first impressions when we meet new people, as part of the puzzle about who we are.
In Mel Gibson’s film,‘The Passion of the Christ’, Jesus surprises Pilate by speaking to him in Latin, something that someone of Jesus’ background would not have been expected to be able to do. It got me thinking that Jesus chose to be bound by that time and place, but could speak in any language that he chose. Just as the Holy Spirit was able to inspire unschooled disciples to speak words of languages from across the world at Pentecost.
Jesus was also not protected from first impressions, unfavourable judgements made about his family and where he came from, and in our passage today we have Nathanael doing this.
Yet Nathanael was open enough to listen to Philip’s assertions and invitation to come to see Jesus. To find out for himself, and make up his own mind about the seriously weighty claims Philip was making about Jesus. Would Nathanael really go there with hope, or was he more sceptical about what he would find and need to be convinced?
This year, will I be open to others’ enthusiastic invitation to ‘come and see’ something new? Will I be able to enter conversations with curiosity and kindness, able to listen and learn? And most of all, will I value the person in front of me as made by God to be full of immense potential and worth, wherever in the world their home town lies?
Challenge unhelpful assumptions that prevent me from seeing the potential within the people around me, limiting their gift.
Draw me into generosity of heart and mind.