What good can come from there?
I distinctly remember in the spring of 2004 having a conversation with my son, Reed. We were listening to all the hype surrounding the NFL draft. Most of the “talk” revolved around one young man, Eli Manning. Reed was dismayed to hear all the analysts talk so poorly of a guy who was predicted to be (and later was) the #1 draft pick. Most of the talk went something like this, “Well, he’s good, but he’s no Peyton. He will be an NFL player, but he will never, mark my words, never win a Super Bowl. He just doesn’t have that kind of talent.”
I remember how perplexed Reed was by all these not-so-nice comments. Reed and I had a long talk about how controversy creates buzz, and buzz sometimes creates dollars in this world of instantaneous entertainment. I also told him that I believed that the Manning family members are Christians that as Christians we don’t have to believe what our world is telling us. We also said that we shouldn’t define greatness by the world’s standard. Reed’s heart was cheering for one whom many perceived as the understudy, and he didn’t like that he was being beaten down when he hadn’t even started his NFL career.
Unfortunately the talk surfaced again, when older brother Peyton and his team (Indianapolis Colts) won the Super Bowl in 2006. “Blah, blah, blah, it’s too bad that little brother Eli (of the New York Giants) will never have a Super Bowl ring like his big brother.” And on and on, it went. That is until two years later, when the little brother and his team won the 2008 Super Bowl.
I was so glad that Reed was still alive (as it was his last Super Bowl to watch on earth) to see that win. Despite all the dire glass-ceiling predictions about Eli, he had the kind of fortitude to just keep showing up and using the talents that God has given him.
Last night’s victory led by the “lesser talented” Manning must have made one little red-head in Heaven laugh out loud. Not only did Eli win a Super Bowl in 2008, but he and his teammates went for an encore performance four years later, winning in 2012.
Recently, as I have been reading through the Bible, I came across a verse that made me sit up straighter and do a double take.
John 1:43 – 46 (NCV)
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip was from the town of Bethsaida, where Andrew and Peter lived. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the man that Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets also wrote about him. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” 46 But Nathanael said to Philip, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Oh no – he didn’t! But, yes, he did! Can anything good come from Nazareth? You have to be kidding . . . but he wasn’t. This Jesus couldn’t be as good as Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and all the other prophets. Nathanael then finds out that Jesus is the real deal, but his initial thoughts were simply on this rival town and nothing good comes out of that. After learning the truth by meeting Jesus, Nathanael becomes one of the disciples and follows him.
There are other countless examples throughout the New Testament of Jesus standing living and breathing right in front of people, yet they would not believe that he is the Messiah. At times even his own family doubted him. The Pharisees, the Sadducees, the high priests, the government officials, and just average people – all doubted him.
He continued to walk humbly and serving God his father, and people doubted and diminished his works. People denied his abilities, and denied the prophetic claims that he was the one true Son of Man.
I, in no way, wish to imply that Eli Manning be equated with godliness, but I do want to parallel how we all have the tendency to miss the boat. This Jesus cannot be who he claims to be because it just doesn’t fit our (historically and now) idea of greatness.
The Savior of the World, this Messiah, should be powerful, debonair, suave, magnanimous, and larger-than-life goes our thinking. He would deserve a 60 second Super Bowl ad. A loving, caring, and humble servant does not seem to fit the picture of the “idols” we have today. But oh, we would be so wrong.
The hands that cradle us in our weakness were strong enough to take the nails for the sins of the world. The heart that loves us despite our flaws (and right we are in life) was large enough to take on a burden that no other ever would be willing to take. No, nothing good ever came out of Nazareth, but something absolutely, positively SUPER did!