A Hick Named Josh

Jesus (Greek) = Yeshua/Jeshua (Hebrew) = Joshua (Hebrew variant)

Nazareth was a small village in the northern rural province of Galilee. It probably had only about 400-500 people living in and around it. These would have been mostly farmers, herdsmen, and some tradesmen. Like carpenters. Carpenters were considered lower than farmers. Being a carpenter meant they had no farmable land and had to learn some other vocation to make a living. Many of these rural carpenters did not do much more than build the scaffolding for stone workers. This scaffolding would have been removed after the work was complete. It was definitely not a prestigious career. Jesus of Nazareth, or Josh, probably did this type of unglamorous work.

When he returned home after beginning his ministry his fellow villagers pointed out that he was the son of the carpenter. This was to discredit him. He had no position, only that of a low class laborer’s son. Who was he to preach to them from the scriptures and then have the audacity to proclaim himself God? Isaiah even points out that he will be plain and have no “stately position”. Josh fulfilled this prophecy both in appearance and credentials.

The priests recognized Peter as one of the guys who followed Josh around because of his accent. Josh probably had this Galilean rural accent as well.

It would not be too surprising that a country guy like Josh would be born in the place of the house where the animals were brought in at night. It is a story that emphasizes the environment he was born in.

This scenario is important for 2 reasons. First, imagine that this story happens in your lifetime. On the surface would this person have any appeal for you whatsoever? Some guy wanders into town from the wilderness and tells you that your traditions, religious practices, and doctrines are wrong. He is critical of your leaders, both religious and political. He tells you that you are doing church wrong. How likely would you be to listen to him? Give yourself an honest assessment. At one point in my life I know I would have quickly and wholeheartedly rejected the person in this scenario. If you do the same, you might just be a Pharisee.

The Pharisees are a much more relatable group than we generally view them.  They were strict in their beliefs and orthopraxy. The obeyed all of the rules, kept the traditions, they did religion right. When they brought the adulterous woman before Josh to ask him what should be done they were just obeying their own religious law. They fasted often and observed the Sabbath.

They were the older son in the parable of the prodigal son. But is it not the older son that the father dresses in regal attire, it is the younger some who “comes to himself” has a change of heart and repents. Merely obeying the rules did not get the older son an inheritance. Likewise it was the commitment to their religion that impeded them from hearing their savior’s message.

Second, Mark tells the story of how Josh became divine. The oldest gospel forgoes the story of immaculate conception, divine birth, and pre-existent power. Not that those things couldn’t also be true, but Mark’s story is one that does not emphasis birth but re-birth. This rural guy, a nobody, an every man, the least of these, became the perfect union of human and divine. The beauty of his status is that it can apply to anyone. There was no worldly qualification that allowed him to do what he did. He taught us that we could also become one with God and that all was required was a broken heart and contrite spirit. It didn’t require political position, wealth, priestly authority, or formal schooling. You too, regardless of your circumstances, can become one with the divine and follow the path that Christ did.

What’s more important to you, your religion or the message of some hick named Josh?

Choose wisely.


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