Welcome back. This week has a New Testament flavour.
Nazareth is most definitely associated with Jesus. Jesus was a tradie and he traded his trade of carpentry in Nazareth where he lived, learning from his earthly dad, Joseph.
Apparently it wasn’t that salubrious a place as indicated by Nathanael, one of the twelve close followers Jesus had while he was conducting his own ministry. When Nathanael was told to meet Jesus (the promised one), someone unwittingly referred to him as ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ to which Nathanael replied “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
Clearly Nazareth was not your upper-middle class area and more like your area of the city where the rent is cheaper, crime rates higher and you might actually be able to afford to buy some housing.
Often you see pictures of Jesus in stained glass looking squeaky clean, rich and like a bit of a sissy. Nathanael’s line about Nazareth helps you to metaphorically smash that glass straight away.
Jesus was a tradie from the lower socio-economic end of town, a bit dirty and driving a ute. Put that in your stained glass image instead.
Oil is effectively a code word in The Bible.
Sometimes oil can be poured on someone head for physical benefit but more commonly if someone (usually a prophet) turns up nearby carrying a jar of oil (usually of the olive variety) then you know someone is probably about to be given a job to do. The person given the job is going to get the jar of oil tipped on their head, which makes for a slightly sticky situation soon requiring some shampoo.
However, being anointed with oil means being set aside (or made holy) for a particular purpose. This is why you might hear Christians talking about “their anointing” in a similar way that they might talk about “their calling”. Both phrases are loosely to do with what they believe God has asked them to do or the skills they’ve been given by God to be used for service.
One time that Jesus himself was involved in the oil anointing process happened when he visited the home of a guy called Simon. While he was there a woman who wasn’t the holy type came and cried on his feet, then wiped up the wet mess with her hair and then decided to wet Jesus’ feet again, but this time by pouring some perfume on them.
A somewhat socially awkward moment.
However, Jesus doesn’t scold the woman. Instead he scolds the homeowner, Simon, because he didn’t put any oil on Jesus’ head when he arrived.
Now this oil when Jesus arrived, could have been for the more physical, cleansing purposes, but when it’s Jesus and something as significant as the code word ‘oil’, you should probably assume something else is going on too.
And this guy called Simon would have understood the code word and all it meant, because Simon was a…
These Jewish guys were one of the powerhouse groups in the temple when Jesus was around. Apparently there wasn’t an excessive number of them but they were popular and influenced people and Jewish policy.
That is until Jesus turned up on the scene. The people quite liked Jesus and he didn’t quite like the Pharisees. Jesus’ descriptive phrases for the Pharisees include compliments such as blind guides, blind fools, hypocrites, snakes, brood of vipers and (my personal favourite) whitewashed tombs.
Jesus’ point with that last one is that the Pharisees look very spiritual on the outside but on the inside they are spiritually dead.
Whatever you might think about Jesus, you have to say that he didn’t pull any punches.
Yours in frankness,