Summary: # 5 in series -A Study of the Book of John - “That You May Believe.” We learn four things about the Lord from Nathanael’s personal encounter with Jesus.
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 5
“A Personal Encounter With Jesus.”
Last week we looked at “The Requirement of Following Jesus” by looking at the call of Andrew. What stands out about Andrew is that he is a very ordinary guy. In the story of Andrew we witnessed him engaging in a type of evangelism we referred to as invitational evangelism. Any one can do this! There can be no question that the most effective means of bringing people to Christ is one at a time, on an individual basis.
You don’t have to memorize some special plan. You don’t have to memorize the New Testament. You don’t have to be licensed or ordained or have the church’s permission. All you have to do is spend time with Jesus and then go and tell someone about it!
Today we look on as Nathanael has a personal encounter with Jesus. From this encounter we are going to learn four things about Jesus!
First, He Reaches Out No Matter Who We Are.
Like Andrew, Philip was not one of the most well known of the disciples. If Andrew is remembered as just an ordinary guy, Philip would be remembered as being a practical guy. We are introduced to Philip in verse forty-three, “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” (44) Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.”
Philip was from the same town as Peter and Andrew. Bethsaida was a small town on along the Sea of Galilee. Philip seems to have been an ordinary kind of guy who was at times in over his head. I don’t know about you but I can identify with that. Last week we noted that every time we saw Andrew he was bringing someone to Jesus. We noted in John 6 that it was Andrew who brought the young boy to Jesus who had the loaves and fishes from which Jesus fed the multitude. But earlier in that same account as Jesus looked out over the multitude who had gathered to hear him teach he turned to Philip and in order to test him asked, “Where can we get enough to feed all these people?” (John 6:5). Philip in true analytical style did his calculations and said, “If we had more than six months wages it would not be enough to give them all even a taste” (Jn. 6:7). Philip did not really have a clue.
Again in John 12 when some Greeks came to Philip in Jerusalem asking to see (literally have a private appointment) Jesus, Philip again clearly did not know what to do. So he went to Andrew and Andrew took them to Jesus.
But we have to give Philip some credit when his first reaction after Jesus found him was to go to his friend with the news. Verse forty-five says, “Philip found Nathanael.” We really know very little about Nathanael. In fact all that we know about him we find here in this story of Philip bringing him to Jesus and on the occasion of the fishing expedition recorded in John 21. There are some good reasons for supposing the Nathanael is the Bartholomew mentioned in the synoptic gospels.
• Philip’ Statement (v. 45)
Philip’s opening words to his friend were
“….and he said to him, We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Philip was a very happy man and he told Nathanael all about it so that he could share in his joy. Philip’s opening words to Nathanael are, “We have found him of whom the scriptures speak. Nathanael we have found the one whom we have been searching for all of our lives.” Nathanael, however, fails to be as impressed as Philip would have wished.
• Nathanael’s Response (v. 46)
“And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
One thing Nathanael heard seems to bother him a great deal. It is not that Jesus is referred to as “the son of Joseph” but that He is “Jesus of Nazareth.” We know that in Jesus own time as well as ours, that there is prejudice towards certain places and people groups. For example there are certain attitudes toward people who live in the Ozarks or Appalachia. There is an assumption that great people come from certain areas, while those in other areas are somehow inferior.
For example my folks are genuine hill folks from the Ozarks. Sometimes people from some other parts of the country do not think too kindly of “Hillbillies.” They say that the only thing to come out of the “Hills” is moonshine, bluegrass, coon dogs and men that are none to bright. It may have been my kinfolk that Jeff Foxworthy was talking about when he originated his “You may be a Redneck If - Jokes.” In fact I can make up a few Hillybilly jokes based on my family. “You may be a HillBilly if your father was ever injured when the family still blew-up. No I am not kidding.” You may be a HillBilly if your family ever engaged in a feud where someone was killed! NO I really am not making this up.