Day 5: What’s So Bad About Nazareth?

The Bible is not a barrel full of laughs. There are floods, plagues, murders and, of course, a crucifixion. Every once in a while, though, you find a nugget of humor.

Today, Philip meets Jesus (yes, the grownup version) and excitedly runs to tell his friend Nathaniel. Nathaniel’s reply? “Can any good come out of Nazareth?”

Now that’s funny. I sort of imagine Nathaniel looking at his fingernails while Philip is bursting at the seams with excitement. And when he hears Philip say, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Torah and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” I picture Nathaniel looking up, rolling his eyes, and making a crack about Jesus’ hometown.

I appreciate Nathaniel’s droll sense of humor; however, I’m not quite sure why he’s so down on Nazareth.

The site israelbiblicalstudies.com offers two possible options. Nazareth was a tiny town with probably no more than 150 residents and was overshadowed by the larger neighboring city of Sepphoris. So it’s possible that Nathaniel’s comment is a slam at what he considers to be a podunk kind of town. Option 2 suggests that Nazareth was under the religious influence of Jerusalem, which apparently didn’t sit well with the anti-Jerusalem folks. I’m not sure which one is more likely, but I still like Nathaniel’s sense of humor.

And then Jesus comes back with a zinger. When he meets Nathaniel for the first time, He says, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.” Basic translation: “You’re a straight-shooter, Nate. We’ll get along just fine.”

Religion can be so solemn. We need to lighten the mood now and then.
Even Jesus did it, so it can’t be a bad thing.

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