Prejudice and the Kingdom
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 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 is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” “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.” John 1:43-49 (NIV 1984)
You’ll note from the above passage Nathanael’s response when Phillip says, “We have found the one..” Nathanael’s prejudice is verbalized in his reply, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” In other words, those Nazarenes are not worth much in my opinion – especially considering that you are asking me, Phillip, to believe that the Messiah is from Nazareth!
Prejudice is a prejudgment of a person or group, usually based upon stereotypes. It is a strong bias or an opinion formed before encountering the facts. If ones prejudice manifests itself in actions it becomes discrimination.
Nathanael expresses his prejudice against the Nazarenes and is then confronted by a choice. Phillip simply says to him, “Come and see.” Fortunately, Nathanael does not allow his prejudice to overcome him. He’s willing to investigate this one whom Phillip is so excited about.
When meeting Jesus face to face, Nathanael is told by Jesus that He saw him under the fig tree when Phillip invited him. Immediately Nathanael’s prejudice is changed as he responds, ” Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
All of us have our own prejudices, some being more obvious than others. If these prejudices are negative or critical towards others what hope is there for lasting change? For Kingdom citizens we have the hope of a personal encounter with Jesus.
Just as Nathanael had his prejudice removed when he personally met Jesus, we too can have our own prejudices removed and permanently transformed. There is hope for those of the Kingdom and that hope is found in meeting the Messiah. He will reveal to us our true selves and with that will come the power, through the Holy Spirit, to put off our old self and put on the new.
Perhaps it may prove helpful to ask the Lord to show you any prejudices that you may be harboring. And once revealed, ask Him to change you-removing the old and putting on the new Christlike one that He desires for you to be.