At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
At that time. What time? Is it, in the words of singer Andy Williams, the ‘most wonderful time of the year’? Time certainly seems at a premium now as we hurtle towards Christmas with a host of tasks, which seemingly need to be accomplished before we can fully enjoy the great day itself!
Just before that time in Mark’s Gospel John had been in the wilderness preaching a baptism for the forgiveness of sins. And for four hundred years before that time the people of Israel, meanwhile, had been in a spiritual wilderness, hearing nothing from God.
Suddenly Jesus appeared from Nazareth in Galilee, a place that appears from archeological excavation to have been no more than a poor, insignificant Jewish village. It’s no wonder that in John’s Gospel Nathaniel asks “Can anything good come from there?” when Philip invites him to meet Jesus.
At this time you may feel as if you are in a spiritual wilderness, either overwhelmed with the preparations for what has become a celebration of materialism or overcome by life’s circumstances. However, this is the time when we remember Jesus coming as Immanuel, God with us. Jesus tells all the disciples at the end of Matthew’s Gospel “surely I am with you”, both those who worshipped him AND those who doubted. Know that he is with you, even when you feel alone and doubtful, and expect to find him in the places - like Nazareth - which seem most unlikely.