Psalm of Praise: Psalms 107:1-3
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story,
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
Bible Reading: John 1:45-49
Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.
"Come and see," said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him,
"Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit."
"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered,
"I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."
Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel."
Living in Yorkshire for almost twenty years, we were very aware of the underlying rivalry between Yorkshire and Lancashire. The Wars of the Roses continued to be expressed centuries later, usually in friendly banter, as to which side of the Pennines you hailed from or, more importantly, which football team you supported.
When Philip told his friend Nathanael that they had, by implication, found the Messiah, the one who Moses wrote about, Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael’s scathing response reflected his own prejudice, ‘Can anything good come from there?’
Nathanael’s words echo another unconscious bias today, the North / South divide. Nazareth was a small town in the north of a country where power was held in the south. And Nathanael would have known the prophecy that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, also in the south.
Fortunately for Nathanael he had an unruffled and unbiased friend in Philip, whose simple words, ‘Come and see’ paved the way for an encounter with Jesus which led to Jesus seeing the true heart of Nathanael and to Nathanael declaring, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God.’
Unconscious bias can affect us all, whether it is about race, gender, sexuality, age, religion, politics, social status, ability or disability, and it can rob us of good relationships and of seeing the God-given value and heart of others. Pause for a moment and allow God’s Holy Spirit to show you any areas where you may have a conscious or unconscious bias.
Can you follow Philip’s invitation and allow the love of God, for them and for you, to lead you into a positive and godly relationship?
Father God, thank you that we are all created in your wonderful image.
Give me eyes to see your image in everyone I meet today.
Come, people of the Risen King