They answered him, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? “Search and see that no
prophet arises out of Galilee.” Everyone went to his home. John 7:52-53
I was reading my devotions one morning and this came up in the reading. The story behind this is Jesus is teaching at a Feast of the Booths in Judea. He is teaching at the Temple. The Jews were astonished because Jesus was teaching and they knew He had not been educated formally. How could a man know as much as Jesus did and not be educated? Those that were listening to Him believed in Him and thought He was one of the Prophets while others believed Him to be Christ (verses 40 and 41). Some of them wanted to seize Jesus and arrest Him. The Officers, the Chief Priests, and the Pharisees were having a dialogue. Some of them talked about how much Jesus knew. The Pharisees were afraid they were beginning to believe in Jesus. Nicodemus in a roundabout way comes to Jesus defense. Without letting on too much about his relationship with Jesus persuades them to listen to Jesus before they do anything. He asks them not to judge Him until they listen to Him and then they answer with the verse above. In my words they are saying, “Can anything good come from Galilee?”
I gave this much thought. Can anything good come from Galilee? I thought about the little tiny town in Indiana where I came from. I wondered if anyone was saying the same thing about me. Dunkirk is not known too much these days for anything really exciting. They used to have some Glass Factories. They had a Glass (I believe they still do) Museum and people would travel longs ways to go to the Glass Museum and visit. There is still a glass factory, but not as prominent as it used to be. In my younger days I was raised on a farm out in the country; again not much happened out there.
I have known people all my life who have covered up or not talked very much about their origin. They may not be ashamed of where they came from, but they aren’t willing to share too much information either. I also know people who were terribly poor and don’t share that information either. It seems we only share our backgrounds when we think it will impress people, but if we come from a terrible childhood or our family had meager resources we keep that to ourselves. Now I am not one to think everyone should share everything and invite others to share in a pity party with us, but I do think there are times when that information would be helpful for others.
My brother who passed away a few years ago was one of those who I believe was embarrassed about his background. We were not rich by any means, but we weren’t the poorest people around either. We lived in an old country farm house that needed lots of repairs; but my parents made it a home and we were happy. We were a close knit family. My brother was the only one to graduate from a University with a degree. To this day I am still not sure what his degree was, but he went off to the local University with the intent of making something of himself. I am not sure he ever mentioned to anyone where he came from. After graduating high school from a very small school he never returned to visit his friends or go to a class reunion. If you heard my brother talk his life began at the University. He worked to become in the Fraternity Dave Letterman was in and in fact was there at the same time. He made straight A’s and partied with the best of them. Afterwards he married and led a comfortable life. He had houses, vacations, cars, boats, and the best of everything. Yet, he never shared his background or even remembered where he came from. He ran with the in crowd. His friends were lawyers, dentists, and owners of stores. At the end of his life through some wrong choices he died a broke man. His friends all came around and talked highly of him, but nothing was ever said about where he came from.
On the other hand, I loved being in the country and I loved my simple life. That way of living has made me who I am and what I am all about. I can relate to folks who come from backgrounds like this more than I can those who lived a privileged life.
I may not have the life my brother had when he was out on his own, but I feel blessed in so many ways. I am so privileged in so many different ways. Now the reason behind all of this and our scripture; I believe no matter what our background is God can use us. If we are willing to follow in His footsteps and allow Him to guide us through life no matter our background God will use us to serve those in our walks of life.
Think about the town you would call Galilee. It may be your own home town or someone you know. Are you critical of those folks in that town? Or maybe it’s not a town, but an area in a certain part of town. Say someone says to you, “I am from………… part of town.” Do you instantly smile and think yes, that is a good part of town and these are good folks, or do you think about what you have heard about that part of town and you begin backing off?
I was watching a show last night (of course it was about crime). A young man had accidently shot someone eight years earlier. He had done his time and was now free. He turned his life around and was helping other young men get out of the drug habit and was running a center for boys. The girl he shot died and they could attribute her death to the gunshot eight years earlier. One of the Detectives was out for blood. He wanted this young man caught and locked up. He just knew he wouldn’t be able to change his life and he would at some time shoot again. The prosecutor after talking with the young man and looking at his record was sure he had turned his life around and it would be a mistake to send him to prison.
Once again we see judgment. One could not get past where he had come from and what he had done. Another was not looking at his background, but was looking at who he was today. I think that’s what Nicodemus was trying to get these guys to look at. It’s not about where you come from or how you lived your life, it’s what you do with it that counts.
I think it’s also important to remember those experiences and the places we come from are what we are made of. Those places that we live and those experiences we lived through make us who we are today. For my brother the place he grew up and being poor in his eyes made him want to strive to have those things he didn’t get to have as a youth. He wanted more than the farm life could offer him. Was he wrong? Was he right in wanting those things? I don’t think it matters; what matters is how he lived his life. I, on the other hand, loved being in the country and it didn’t bother me that we weren’t able to have those things my friends had. In fact, my friends had what I had. I often share my background with others; once again not because I want them to have a pity party for me, but so I can relate to those who I know and love. Right or wrong my brother was always trying to get ahead. I am on the other hand comfortable with where God has put me in life.
We may not like where we have come from, we may not have liked our living conditions, but that is what has made us who we are. I am pretty confident Jesus was okay with coming from Galilee. Before we start criticizing others maybe we should be more like Nicodemus and listen to those who come from different backgrounds with different experiences; they like Jesus might just have something important to tell us.
If we can’t get past who people are or where they come from then we might miss an important message God has given them to share with us. Let’s stop and listen to the message instead of criticizing people for where they came from.
Are you more like Nicodemus wanting to hear the message or are you like the others that are certain nothing good can come from that neck of the woods?
Dear God: Help me to stop and listen to the message others have to share with me no matter where they come from or their walk in life. Help me to remember you’ve called each of us to do your will and it takes people from all over and all kinds of experiences to help others. Let me be more like Nicodemus and less like the Pharisees. Let me accept those who are from my Galilee today and not judge them just on their heritage. Thank you for scripture that teaches us, gives us wisdom and guides us along this journey. Amen