“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.
“Jesus of Nazareth” is a beautiful name to those of us who follow him. Ironically, Jesus was often criticized because of his home town (John 7:52). Even Nathanael was surprised to learn that the Messiah had come from Nazareth. In fairness to Nathanael, he was probably surprised because he knew that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem (this was in fact Jesus’ place of birth, but he grew up in Nazareth). Nathanael quickly decided to follow Jesus despite his initial shock.
Nazareth was located in the Galilee region, which was the northern section of Israel. Due to Galilee’s history and location, Galileans had frequent interactions with Gentiles (Pagans; non-Jewish people). Nazareth itself was actually home to a large Roman military outpost.
Galileans were known for having more simple religious customs than Judeans. The elite religious leaders considered Galileans inferior in terms of their religious practices. Perhaps they thought Galileans were “corrupted” by their contact with Gentiles.
Galileans were also easily recognized by their accent (Matthew 26:69) and had a reputation for poor grammar.
We know, of course, that these stereotypes were not true of Jesus. He was raised in a devoutly Jewish home—he knew the Scriptures by the time he was twelve years old (Luke 2:41-48). We know that he was a powerful public speaker who could awe entire crowds. There was also a well-known (though unwritten) prophecy that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23).
There is a point to all of this information. Your destiny is not determined by your hometown or place of birth. You may be from a place that others look down upon. Your hometown may be known for poverty and crime instead of its good qualities. Don’t allow this to bring you down or destroy your hopes.
Jesus never apologized for his home town. He never seemed too concerned about what people thought of Galilee (he actually never seemed concerned with man’s opinion at all). He simply obeyed the will of the Heavenly Father and fulfilled his mission here on earth.
Don’t get too concerned with where you are from—none of us decided our birthplace or our hometown. Focus instead on where you are going—the direction God is leading you in your life.
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