Fri, May 15th - 7:03AM
BOOK OF JOHN
"And Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael said to Him, "From where do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel." ~John 1:46-49
Curiously, John is the only one who mentions Nathanael. But the other three gospels do mention a disciple that John does not, Bartholomew. These two names could very well refer to the same person, being the first and last name of that person. At any rate, it is rather easy to observe the prejudicial attitude of Nathanael in these verses. He does not believe that anything good could possibly exist in and come out of Nazareth which was a rather small community of no importance within Israel. And yet, he still responds to Philip's "Come and see." We can tell that Nathanael was a student of the Old Testament scriptures, he knew the importance of someone finally discovering the Messiah had come. Philip must have been a good friend of Nathanael's, for he wasted no time in going to find him sitting under that fig tree. And we also know that Nathanael was a person who spoke his mind, he did not play games nor speak falsehoods.
So Nathanael rejected Philip's initial claim of having found the Messiah. He did it in a rather negative, skeptical, reactionary spirit. He questioned it; he would not accept it nor believe it. Apparently he had tried to follow so many voices in his world that he had just lost hope. There were so many in his world who had promised much, only to leave him still empty and searching. Why should he now believe and follow another man's voice? Isn't this what we are faced with when we share with people what Jesus has done for us? Are we not shown skepticism, negativity, and rejection? All that we can say is, "Come and see!"
Today there are still many voices in the world around us promising the path to life and fulfillment and joy and satisfaction. However, their claims are eventually discovered to be false, and they still leave the human heart empty and wondering. People caught up in despair wonder about the real purpose, meaning, and significance of their lives.
Nazareth was an obscure village in Galilee. Galilee bordered Gentile nations; and so it was sometimes called in those days Galilee of the Gentiles. The Jews were so deeply prejudiced against the Gentiles that they considered anyone or anything touched by a Gentile to be unclean in the sight of God. Nazareth was despised by the Jews because it was on the border of Gentile country and was so commercially touched by Gentiles. It was despised by the Romans because its citizens were a conquered people. This was the source of Nathanael's bigotry/prejudice concerning Nazareth.
Despite this man's preconceived beliefs, Jesus declared him to be a Jew without guile. Jesus knew the man's beliefs and his lineage. This man was definitely a Jew. Jesus clearly knew his character as well, saying that he had no guile, or deceptiveness. Nathanael was the epitomy of an Israelite, what an Israelite should be. He believed the promises of God. He tried to live up to the covenant name, the standard God had set for Israel, and he was looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the Messiah. Jesus knows what our beliefs are, that which we set our hearts upon. He knows both the good and the bad beliefs, the godly and the evil thoughts of our human hearts. Just as Jesus knew the character of Nathanael He knows our character as well. Nathanael was a man without guile (dolos). He did not deceive, bait, or mislead other people. He did not hide what he thought; he said what he thought and acted what he felt. He was straightforward, open and honest, not deceptive or hypocritical. One huge tragedy in our society is that too many people are full of guile. Many deceive and mislead others, they are not straightforward, open, and honest.
The end result of this interaction of Jesus with Nathanael is that Jesus knew the man's innermost being, what he was yearning to know. Nathanael realizes that Jesus has to be the Promised One, the Messiah. Who else could have seen him sitting under that distant fig tree? And let us not miss the importance of the fig tree. Nathanael sat under a tree that stood for peace, security, rest, and worship (I Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4). Jewish men often would seek solitude and worship under this tree and no doubt Nathanael had been doing this very thing. In telling him that He saw him sitting under the fig tree, Jesus was telling Nathanael that He knew why he had been sitting there. Jesus knew he was longing for peace and release and freedom. This was enough to cause this man to give his life to Jesus forever, declaring Him to be the Son of God and the King of Israel. This man quickly grasped who he was in the company of. Generation upon generation of Jews had ached for and looked for the promised Deliverer of Israel. The people expected Him to be a great general who would rescue and restore the nation to its prior greatness. They expected Him to make Israel the center of universal rule. Jerusalem itself would be the epicenter of the glory and majesty of God Himself. From His throne in Jerusalem God would then execute the Messianic fire of judgment upon the nations of the world. (Matt 1:18, 3:11, 11:1-6; Luke 7:21)
But we have to deal with peoples' misconceptions about Jesus today as well. Nothing has really changed in two thousand years, has it? Mankind remains the same. What does this mean then? It simply means that we must declare God's Word clearly and extend the same invitation that Philip did: "Come, and see!" If we do this, then we can allow God's Spirit to touch their hearts and reveal Himself to them. It will be up to them to choose to believe or reject Him.
Have a blessed day.
Wed, May 6th - 9:19PM
THE BOOK OF JOHN
"The following day Jesus would go out into Galilee, and find Philip, and said to him, "Follow Me." Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, "We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
Here we witness Jesus finding Philip and telling him to come follow Him. Philip did not hesitate, he did not procrastinate nor did he make up excuses as to why he could not follow Jesus. We need to burn that into our brains. Philip discovered and witnessed Jesus. He obviously knew the Old Testament Scriptures for he told Nathanael that Jesus was the one that the scriptures had spoken about and they had found Him.
Let's look at three points involving Philip's experience: First, Jesus Himself went out and found Philip, Philip did not go looking for Jesus. The initiative came from Jesus completely. Jesus chose to find and save Philip and then to enlist him in His mission. Jesus had walked a long way to find Philip and He will go a long way today to find those whom He knows will believe in Him. It does not matter how terrible their sin may be, or how hidden or shameful it is, nor how hopeless or helpless they may feel. Christ will see that every person has some chance of turning back to God. It is completely up to the person to heed the seeking of Christ, to respond before He turns away. We believers should be willing to go any distance to reach people for Christ. Too many people are considered and treated as being untouchable: alcoholics, immorals, poor, prisoners, addicts, and the diseased.
Secondly, Jesus Himself called Philip. Philip was aching for deliverance, aching to find the Messiah. Therefore, Philip had sought out the company of those who were like-minded. In doing this he had reached a point where Christ went to where he was. Thirdly, Jesus called Philip of Bethaida to follow Him. Follow meant to become a close companion, a close follower, a disciple. The two big ideas in this word: union and likeness, or cleaving and conformity. So to follow Jesus means to cleave, to be united to Him, to be in close union with Him and to become like Him, to be conformed to Him. Now doesn't that cover a majority of what a Christian is supposed to be, or not?
Of course, we then observe what Philip immediately did. He went and found Nathanael to tell him who they had found. See, Philip did exactly what Jesus had just done: he went and found someone and told him who he had found. Philip exhibited conviction, the One prophesied was Jesus Christ. The Messiah has been found! Notice his joy, his jubilation and excitement, rejoicing to Nathanael. Philip's needs and craving heart had been satisfied by Jesus.
Isn't this what we yearn for Jesus to do for each of us today? To come and find us? To come and satisfy our needs and our broken hearts? Do we not wish that our hearts could be filled with joy, jubilation, excitement, and rejoicing? Sure we do. And it will be done for us, if we accept Christ into our hearts and repent of our sin. We merely need to totally commit ourselves to Christ.
Blessings and peace,