Who doesn’t love a good rags to riches story? The rising to prominence of a person who had everything stacked against them – economic status, ethnic background, familial problems, etc. This is one reason that we love the story of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Her father died when she was 9, she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 8, and she was raised in the projects in the Bronx. Yet, she managed to attend Princeton University and Yale Law School and then become a judge in the Federal court system – eventually nominated for SCOTUS.
In Jesus, rather than a rags to riches story, we find a riches to rags story. While enjoying fellowship with his Father in heaven, Jesus was rich. He had everything desirable - except a relationship with us. In love, he voluntarily became a man. But, rather than coming as a wealthy king, he came as a poor carpenter from Nazareth - a town of less than two thousand people. Because of his background, he faced prejudices – even from his own disciples.
After Philip enthusiastically accepted Jesus’ invitation to become a disciple, he went to Nathaneal to tell him about Jesus being “the one Moses wrote about.” Nathaneal responded,
Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?
Did you notice that he did not say, “Can the Messiah come from there”? but rather, “Can anything good come from there?” Can you hear the prejudice seeping out?
Having been raised in the South and now living in New York City, I hear geographically prejudicial statements all the time. Many New Yorkers think that Southerners are ignorant, unintelligent, fundamental, and lazy. Most Southerners think that New Yorkers are rude, pretentious, and morally corrupt. Were the Messiah to come today to either the South or to New York, each side would say, “Can anything good come from there?”
Although the rags to riches stories are amazing, the riches to rags stories are even more unique and astounding. For who voluntarily chooses to suffer the prejudice when they have another choice? Jesus not only chose to suffer the prejudice and humiliation, he did it out of his love for us. These truths should leave us speechless with thankfulness and overflowing with joy!