We were on a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Greece. Our youngest daughter was there as part of her university’s international study program. Everyone had been counting their nickels for quite some time (even having a home-made gift exchange the previous Christmas). Janice and I flew to Raleigh where our oldest daughter and her husband live. From there we flew to Boston where we would go to London and finally Athens (you change planes a lot when you’re pinching pennies).
We were sitting on the runway in Boston and the attendants were going up and down the aisles helping people stow their luggage in the overhead compartments, checking seat belts, and other pre-flight duties. I was going through my own preflight checklist—being claustrophobic and not in love with heights, I’m not the greatest flyer so I was trying to stay focused on other things. We were sitting on the very back row of the plane when one of the attendants came by, pointed at me and said, “Eww . . . Alabama,” (I had on my Crimson Tide shirt with a script A on it). This was not good. One of the people who was supposed to take care of us and she had already singled me out in a negative way. I figured if one of those emergencies came up while we were over the ocean and we had to get rid of some weight—I’d be the first to go.
You hear something of that from Nathanael when he says, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46). No one seems to know exactly what it was about Nazareth that elicited such a caustic response from him (maybe he had an ex-girlfriend from there). Whatever it was, it seems to be all he heard when Philip told him that he had found the Messiah and He was Jesus of Nazareth. But it’s what Philip did next that was the game changer.
Over the next few hours we had snatches of conversation and it turned out that she had gone to the University of Georgia. More to the point, the young man she had been seeing had graduated from the University of Alabama. They had recently parted ways and she was having a tough time getting over it (as were people around her wearing Alabama apparel). As far as she was concerned, nothing good could come out of Tuscaloosa.
He made no attempt to defend the city or explore Nathanael’s reasons for having such animus toward it. Instead, his response to him was, “Come and see,” (v. 46). I believe there’s a legitimate time for dealing with people’s questions, issues, and objections. I also believe that sometimes the best way to do so it is to simply invite them to come and see.
A young lady on our flight to London became nauseous and required some medical attention. They wanted to keep her at the back of the plane so the attendant asked if I would move to the seat where she had been for the remainder of the flight. As we deplaned, she thanked me for moving and assured us the young lady was already feeling better. I told her I hoped Georgia had a good season and that she would remember there were some ‘Bama fans that were okay. She laughed and said she would.
To Nathanael’s credit, he was willing to move past his Nazareth fixation and come and see. When he did, where Jesus came from no longer mattered. The invitation to come and see is still open today.