Seven words

by DanWolgemuth on July 24, 2020

In a book with over 783,000 words, these seven pour a footing in the foundation of grace, justice, and redemption. They were words spoken by a bit player in an epic drama. But in a profound and meaningful way, they splash light on the darkness of prejudice… and they do so Biblically. Profoundly. Authentically.

At a time in world history when we attempt to sanitize everything, I confess to doing the same to Biblical characters. In doing so, I reduce the velocity of the Gospel. Indeed, the good news of Jesus does not tap the brakes before it collides with my assumptions or characterizations. And in a brief encounter that is recorded in John 1, Jesus writes a script for our contemporary culture.

Enter a young man. Nathanael. A friend of Philip the disciple of Jesus.


As Philip invites his friend to discover the world of Jesus, Nathanael spews prejudice across the landscape of scripture. His first recorded words in scripture… “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Can anything good?

Seeping out of the soul of this young recruit were words of bias. Bigotry.

He knew about Nazareth. A small town of nothing. Insignificant. Unimportant. Unimpressive. A breeding ground for the ignorable. A gene pool for insignificance.

And with candid recall, John, the Beloved Disciple, pens the harsh words of the uninformed Nathanael.

And as our eyes race through these words at the end of the first chapter of John, I find myself confessing the reality that I too have names or places or perspectives that would just as readily race across my mind when confronted with a distortion to my preconceived notion.

“Can anything good come out of ____________?”

Perhaps it appears as innocent as the name of a rival team. Perhaps it’s a city or country. Perhaps it’s a group of individuals with a different voting pattern, or political affiliation. Perhaps it’s connected to a neighborhood, or style of music, or a moral ethic, or church denomination, or skin color…

But in an act of rich grace, Jesus doesn’t recoil, rebuff, or rebuke. He presses into the bigotry with relational engagement. With confidence. Confidence in the unfettered power of love. The transcendent and barrier breaking power of love. A confluence of grace and truth.

Bigotry and prejudice are lazy. They make assumptions without exploration. They draw conclusions without research. They dismiss without a thorough encounter. They borrow the perspectives of others, without an authentic and honest investigation of the facts. They impute motive without a relationship or even a conversation.

But Jesus, in His love and grace and mercy and wisdom steps into the ignorance without raising His voice.

Yes, Jesus not only called a tax collector, a traitor, a zealot, a collection of blue-collar workers… He also called a man with a significant bias against Him. And what happened next was transformation. Swift and comprehensive.

A soft and tender and humble heart learns quickly what the mind of Jesus is. Which is why Nathanael was the first among his peers to confess Jesus as the Christ.

“Rabbi, you are the Son of God!”

And years later, as Nathanael hung on a cross, convicted of following Jesus… his answer was abundantly clear. Yes, something eternally good can come out of Nazareth.

If only we could be so honest. So humble. So pliable. Then, maybe then…

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: