3 1/2 years earlier

When Jesus made His famous Triumphal Entry into the city of Jerusalem at the beginning of His Passion Week, the people shouted a peculiar phrase. They said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matthew 21:11). The phrase was peculiar because 3 ½ years earlier, people mocked Jesus’ humble, Nazarene roots, and yet now as He entered the city atop a donkey with its colt, they hailed Nazareth as the birthplace of a mighty prophet.

There is something in storytelling called a non-linear narrative where stories get told out of order. You have likely experienced this when you watched an opening scene of a movie or television program that was so shocking and gripping that it left you struggling to figure out what was going on, and then the screen faded into the words, “Six months earlier” allowing the storyline to back up and start over. That form of non-linear storytelling is an art form that uses dramatic changes in the timeline of a story to engage the viewer. When Jesus entered Jerusalem at the outset of His final Holy Week, the people were freaking out and exclaiming, “This is the prophet from Nazareth!” Yet 3 ½ years earlier, when Philip introduced Jesus to Nathanael, Nathanael vocalized the general sentiment, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46)

The answer to Nathanael’s question is yes. The heartbeat and ethos of the Gospel story is, “Yes! Good can indeed come from Nazareth. Life can come from death. Easter Sunday can come from the trauma of Good Friday.” That is our story too—that is always our story in Jesus.

When we follow Him we eventually discover that good can come from the places where it formerly seemed like nothing could grow. 3 ½ years earlier Nazareth was a joke, but 3 ½ years later it was sacred. It was the origin of the prophet who had come to set the people free.

So, the question to ponder today is where will you be in 3 ½ years? 3 ½ years earlier your life looked one way today it looks different. What will it be 3 ½ years from now? In 3 ½ years, what will God have done in your life? How will He have come through for you? How will you have changed and become healthier, more loving, and more filled with a radiating passion to follow God, love people, and see the Holy Spirit bring change to our struggling world? He is for you today, and the message for you in this season is a heightened reminder that good can from Nazareth.

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