Summary: This is about Nathanael’s encounter with Jesus.
Jesus is beginning his ministry. John the Baptist had baptized him. He has just called Andrew and Peter. He had been a carpenter.
Read John 1:43-51.
Jesus makes a proposal to Philip: “Follow me.” He was from the same town as Andrew and Peter.
It was a simple and direct proposal. There was no effort to try to convince Philip to follow.
God had prepared his heart ahead of time. J. Wesley called this “prevenient grace.”
There is no record of Philip’s response. He doesn’t pursue additional questions. From the scripture we can discern that he did in fact follow Jesus. He goes to find his friend Nathanael.
Jesus offers the same proposal to us: “Follow me.”
Philip’s decision to follow Jesus was based on his perception and belief that Jesus was the Messiah. He tells his buddy, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
His perception drove him to tell his friend and Bible study partner. He went looking for his friend after he had his encounter with Jesus. The simple proposal of Jesus to follow him prompted Philip to seek out others who would want to follow Jesus.
Do we have an accurate perception of who Jesus is? Do we perceive him as Savior of the world?
Philip’s faith in Christ was proven by his efforts to tell others about him. Our faith in Christ is demonstrated by willingness to share it with others.
Through Philip’s actions, the band of disciples was made larger. That’s quite a concept for church growth.
Nathanael displayed a certain degree of prejudice when he says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
No one is sure what the extent of the prejudice was. It could have been contempt for Nazareth, as Nate was from a neighboring town. (Rivalries often exist between neighboring towns.) It could have been from the fact that Nazareth was nothing special. It was a very mediocre town.
Notice that Philip didn’t argue or debate with Nate. He didn’t try to persuade him. He simply said, “Come and see.”
Noted NT scholar, Wm. Barclay wrote, “Not very many people have ever been argued into Christianity. Often our arguments do more harm than good. The only way to convince a man of the supremacy of Christ is to confront him with Christ.”
Don’t try to convince people to follow Jesus through reasoned debate. Don’t try to argue people into faith. Show them Jesus in your life.
Nate doesn’t allow his prejudice to cloud his vision. He goes to see Jesus.
Jesus makes two pronouncements regarding Nate: “An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” and “When you were under the fig tree I saw you.”
This pronouncement shows that Jesus knows our hearts even better than we do. The Lord had told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer. 1:5).
These pronouncements are telling. Psalm 32:2 says, “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit is no deceit.” Would Jesus say that about you? There is so-and-so in whom there is no deceit.
The fig tree was a refuge for people who lived in one-room homes. The fig tree was a place of prayer and meditation. It is what we would call a prayer closet. Would Jesus say to you, “I saw you in your prayer closet”?
Nate makes a proclamation that Jesus is “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel.” All of his prejudices were wiped out at this instant. He didn’t totally understand everything about Jesus at the beginning. Who of us knows everything about Jesus? Theologians with multiple PhD’s don’t understand everything about Jesus.
Our acknowledgement of him as the Son of God is the beginning of our journey in our relationship with him. While Philip wasn’t able to convince him about Jesus, Nate believed when he met Jesus face-to-face.
In a God encounter we have to acknowledge who Jesus really is.
Jesus is a bit surprised that Nate believes on these few words.
Jesus promises that we will see even greater things. Often when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we don’t fully realize everything that it entails. Jesus simply promises, “You will see greater things than these.” What could be greater than meeting Jesus?
Jesus later said (John 14:6-7), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you know him and have seen him.”
Jesus gives us access to God. He is the one who bridges the gap between God and humanity.
YOUR GOD ENCOUNTER
Jesus makes a simple proposal to us: “Follow me.” He promises us that we will see great things. Where are you when it comes to your faith in Jesus?