Slices of the Nazarene
Shaped by Galilee, our Lord was familiar with both sides of Abraham’s family, the faith-formed and the natural descendants. This experience would help to shape the church’s appreciation of all people without condition. There is no Jew Gentile difference in God’s distribution of eternal life and gifts for living. We may underestimate the power of growing up in a certain place, especially when it is not where we were born. If you had a memorable birth such as King of the Jews, and such a life of contradiction you might consider how much pleasure he took from seeing people from the place where life shaped him turn to him in faith. Faith and love are the bangs in the Nazarene buck. This is what pleases God and no-one can please God without it. To be precise, faith is effective in love to others, not to a loyalty to traditions of any kind. Kindness to strangers is top of the list for the Nazarene. That is why the light came to Galilee, the land of darkness.
FINDING GENTILE FAITH
- And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, [thou] Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. Matt. 15:22
- But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. Matt. 15:23
- But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matt. 15:24
- She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Matt. 15:27
- Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matt. 15:28
No-one gets rewarded for following prophets or ancestors and only the faithful get this kind of commendation. The people who were genuinely attracted to the Nazarene were the tax-collectors and prostitutes. As he forgave them, they loved him. When he did not commend people for their marketplace games they hated and plotted against him. The learned and the unlearned rallied to their lies and fabled genealogies, the gold and silver and animal blood, holy places and things, ignoring the testimony of the Law and the Prophets about the Nazarene.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, Matt. 11:16 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ Matt. 11:17 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ Matt. 11:18 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Matt. 11:19Matthew 11:16-19
MARVELLING AT GENTILE FAITH IN HIS HOMETOWN
- And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Luke. 7:6 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. Luke. 7:7 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Luke. 7:8
- When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Luke. 7:9
Again, the Nazarene finds great faith, from a notable member from the Gentile community. This is remarkable indeed, in the light of being turned off, literally, by unbelief, and in the light of Nazareth’s reputation of being a dump, from which nothing good could come.
THE NAZARENE’S HONOURABLE PASSING
It is no surprise that Galilean women claim the Nazarene’s lifeless body. Some of these were with him from the start. They travelled with him. Now they make sure his rest in the grave has all the love they could muster. Remember the woman who emptied a jar of ointment worth a year’s salary on his feet in preparation for burial.
- GALILEAN FUNERAL SERVICE – FEMALE COMPLIMENTS
- It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. Luke. 23:54 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Luke. 23:55 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke. 23:56
THE RISEN NAZARENE’S ATTACHMENT TO A GALILEAN MOUNTAIN
- THE LAST APPOINTMENT IN GALILEE.
- But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. Mark. 16:7
- Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. Matt. 28:16
- Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Matt. 28:19
We call him Yeshua because of his effective resolution of the sinfulness of humanity. We call him Nazarene because of his connection as Light with the darkness of Galilee. We can make no progress apart from considering the identity of a migrant king, born in Bethlehem, resident in the darkness. We can hope to spin our wheels if we continue to label people and things as incapable of producing good. The entire expreience of the Nazarene makes prejudice and identity discrimination a lie that we do well to flee.