Daily Reading: (John 1:43-51):
“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Philip follows Jesus and then seeks out Nathanael and extends an invitation for him to do the same thing to follow Jesus (John 1:45). The simple thing that Philip does here is discipleship in a nutshell. I spend time with Jesus and then I go out seeking others who I might extend an invitation to follow Jesus.
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).
Nathanael, you have got to check this guy out. Come and see and decide for yourself who Jesus is. Everyone needs to come to a decision for themselves who Jesus is. And really there are only three options. Jesus is either Lord, a liar, or a lunatic. C.S. Lewis created this trilemma. He said, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Jesus: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. Jesus said he had the authority to forgive sins, to have always existed, to intend to come back at the end of time.If He isn’t God’s Son don’t call Him a great moral teacher if these things weren’t true.”
Philip puts it out there for Nathanael, “could Jesus be the Messiah?”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.“Come and see,” said Philip. (John 1:46).
Nathanael is skeptical. He had in his mind what the Messiah would be like, where he would come from, and Nazareth didn’t fit the bill.
He made a generalization based on multiple experiences of Nazarenes. Based on my life experiences can anything good come from there? His view of these people is so negative that he sweeps all of them into this negative stereotype, including Jesus. His reaction is immediate. He is temporarily blinded by his prejudice.
Look at how Philip responds and this is how we should respond when we put out a Gospel invitation and we are rejected. Respond in grace.“Come and see,” said Philip. These words aren’t pushy but continues the invitation forward and allowed Nathanael the opportunity to further investigate, even if it is only to prove himself right and everyone else wrong. So often we want to make it believe first in Jesus and then follow Him, but that is not the way it works. Follow and then believe (John 1:46). As people spend time investigated Jesus for themselves, this is how they can have their spiritual eyes opened by the Holy Spirit to see Him for who He is.
Now let’s see how this goes as Jesus meets a man who is very skeptical about who He is.
“When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47).
Jesus breaks the ice with a joke that compliments Nathanael.Jesus’ joke is a play on words. “Here comes an Israelite”… Where did the Israelites come from? The line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The name Jacob means deceiver. Jacob cheated his brother, he deceived his father, and was involved in a shady work relationship with his uncle to try and marry one of his daughters. Jacob even got into a wrestling match with God and God changed his name to Israel which means “struggles with God.” When Jesus said, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” He is literally saying here comes the lineage of deceivers who doesn’t deceive. Nathanael you are a straight-shooter who tells it like it is. Jesus eased the tension and used the moment to make Nathanael feel known.
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked (John 1:48a). Discipleship flourishes as a result of knowing another person.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you” (John 1:48b).
The fig tree was a place of prayer for Israelites. Many scholars believe Nathanael was praying for the coming Messiah. When Jesus says that He saw him under the fig tree Nathanael makes a connection.
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel” (John 1:49). Jesus you are the one I have been praying for.
Then to conclude the conversation, Jesus started with a joke about the name change of Jacob and then He quotes a dream that Jacob had in Genesis 28:12: “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.”
Jesus used humor to break the tension that Nathanael would have had in meeting him. The humor was a compliment of Nathanael character and it soften his heart to receive Jesus. The story of Nathanael is a reminder that Jesus sees us in our pain. He sees us in our places of doubt, anger, disappointment, and deepest longing. He knows you better than you know yourself and He loves you. His grace will lift up as it did Nathanael, and upon listening to Jesus’ words your faith will grow. He extends to you the greatest adventure you could ever be a part of to follow Him.