I've been studying in John recently and something struck me that has hung around for a bit. In John 1 you are learning about John's experience with Jesus. This chapter has some of my very favorite verses in it and I like to read it a lot. This time, something stuck out very plainly that has had me puzzling over the idea for a few weeks now. It comes in verse 46 where Jesus was wanting to go to Galilee and he went and found Phillip. He told Phillip to follow him and he did. Phillip then goes to Nathaniel and tells him about Jesus of Nazareth.
Here's where it sticks out... Nathaniel looks at Phillip and says, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"
Umm.. wow. Think about that for a minute. I can imagine in my mind Phillip coming up to Nathaniel and Nathaniel making a face at him and asking, really? You think something good can come from that area? Maybe he was thinking to himself, are you talking about the same Nazareth I'm talking about?
You know that feeling. You've all been there or had it at one time or another. Maybe it's been something you've thought about someone or some place, or maybe you have had it thought about you. Perhaps you feel that nothing good can come from your past. Nothing in the present can be good or lovely from the life you've lived. The things that have happened to you could never amount to anything worth something.
That's where you're wrong. See, I did some research on Nazareth. Do you know what it means? I found a couple translations but they all lead to the same. The word Nazareth means, "to flower, shoot or sprout". Another meaning is to "keep guard or stand watch". Nazareth was not a well known location by any means. It had a very small population and when you went there it was full of gentiles, farmers, not the type of people you might associate with the King of Kings.
So when Nathaniel heard this, he honestly asked the question, what good can come from there? What good can come from a city that has people living there that do not hold the religious morals that his town did?
Perhaps you're thinking that yourself. What good can come from my past? What good can come from my hurt, pain, bitterness, life of feeling worthless? Let me tell you. Something amazing can come from all of that. Something wonderful and glorious.
If you read on some more you'll find that Jesus started talking to Nathaniel and Nathaniel believed right there. Jesus said that before Phillip had told Nathaniel to come with him that Jesus saw him by the fig tree. That amazed Nathaniel and right then he believed. Jesus also went on to tell him he would see much greater things than these.
My pastor talked this past week about your divine purpose in Christ. He also talked about your past being stepping stones to your future. This just reiterated what I kept hearing in this scripture. As you look back on your past you may find you don't really come from what you'd consider a "good" city. You may not have a past of joy and happiness. You may find your past is dotted with trials, heartaches, tough times, and bad decisions.
The good news? That isn't your future. Jesus came from Nazareth where people were not religious and they didn't have a glamourous past. They didn't have money and power. They were simple people who were not well known. They weren't a big deal to write back home about, if you catch my drift.
BUT.. The Savior who was coming to save the world came from there. He came not in blazing fury but in love, peace, forgiveness. He came to save us from our past and give us an amazing future of blessings and life with Him.
So if you look back at your past and feel like you're not worth it, you're not someone that Jesus cares about or that you couldn't be saved... please think again. Jesus came just for you. Don't look back and be overwhelmed by the past that tries to weigh you down. Look forward to the future that God has prepared for you. Good can come from the things you've been through.
Sorry this is a little longwinded but it's one of those that's been on my heart and just gotta get it out there. Be blessed and remember, your past is not your future!!!