6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: This is the 6th sermon in the "Getting Acquainted With The 12 Apostles" series.

Series: Getting Acquainted With The 12 Apostles [#6]


John 1:45-51


The 1st time we see Nathanael, his heart is filled with prejudice. Prejudice is a strange thing. Where does it come from? Why is it so strong? Are we born with prejudice? Yet, in the presence of Christ, we are transformed from prejudice to purity. Who was this man Nathanael, anyway? Bartholomew is listed as an Apostle in the 1st 3 Gospels and in Acts. John does not mention Bartholomew, but he does tell of Nathanael. Most scholars identify these 2 as the same person. Bartholomew is not itself a 1st name. It is a distinguishing 2nd name. It identifies a man by the name of his father, “bar” meaning “son of.” So, Bartholomew means “Son of Tolmai.” In John’s Gospel, Philip is shown leading Nathanael to Jesus. Close friendship with Philip is indicated in each case. Moreover, Bartholomew and Philip are mentioned together each time in the 3 Gospels, so Philip and Nathanael Bartholomew were friends. We do not know much about Nathanael, but when we put the several verses that we have about him together, his character clearly emerges.

John 1:45-46 (NIV)

45 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.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

Nathanael was a man…

1. Who was seeking the truth.

The way in which Philip put his announcement is proof of that. This shows that Philip and Nathanael had spent time in the Scripture. They searched for information on what the Messiah would be like and when He would come. Nathanael was skeptical at 1st. He could not understand how anything good could come from such poor, despised people who lived around Nazareth. Philip was a practical man. Remember, he did not argue with Nathanael or try to plead Jesus’ case. He simply said, “Come and see.” A little demonstration is worth a lot of argument. Nathanael went to see for himself.

John 1:47 (NIV)

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

Nathanael was a man…

2. Who was sincere.

Jesus could see his sincerity. In the presence of Jesus, Nathanael is transformed. Jesus says, “Here is a man who is completely transparent, sincere, and honest- A true, humble man.” It is hard to detect sincerity these days. People work very hard to be politically and socially correct. People have been taught to hide their true feeling. How about you? Are you sincere?

John 1:48 (NIV)

48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Nathanael was a man…

3. Of prayer.

Nathanael wanted to know how Jesus knew him. This reveals to us that Nathanael spent time in prayer. In Palestine, many went to a quiet place for prayer; they could find it beneath the shade of a fig tree. Jesus tells him, he saw him there. We need to find a quiet place and go to God in prayer often- No TV’s, radios, or screaming kids will interrupt your time and you will grow in Christ.

John 1:49 (NIV)

49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Nathanael was a man…

4. Of devotion.

Nathanael was overwhelmed when he heard what Jesus said. This man knew everything about him. Nathanael surrendered and yielded completely. When he discovered Jesus Christ, none but the highest was good enough for Him. Nathanael held nothing back but gave his all to God. To be a disciple is to live a life of obedience to God. To accept Jesus Christ as Lord is to live a life of complete obedience and trust.

John 1:50-51 (NIV)

50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 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.”

Nathanael was a man…

5. Who had staying power.

Jesus told Nathanael that he would see greater things. Nathanael died from a brutal scourging at the hand of King Astyages in Armenia.


As we stay close to the Lord, we too can experience great things. Nathanael stayed with the Lord. How about you?

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