THE 12 APOSTLES: BARTHOLOMEW
A. HUMOR: CHRISTMAS PRESENT
1. Louis (‘Loo-ee’) Boudreaux asked his little daughter, Louise, what she wanted for Christmas.
2. Louise said what she wanted the most was a baby brother. So the next winter, a baby brother was born!
3. The next year, before Christmas, Louis asked her what she’d want for Christmas that year.
4. Louise said, “Well, if it is not too uncomfortable for mommy, I’d like a pony.”
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 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.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 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.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 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.”
C. IDENTITY: NATHANAEL BARTHOLOMEW
1. Nathanael Bartholomew lived in Cana of Galilee (Jn. 21:2). When Jesus and Andrew, Peter, and Philip went to the wedding at Cana, Philip went and found Nathanael.
2. “Nathanael” means “God has given.” Nathanael was his given name and Bartholomew, which means, “Son of Talmai,” was his surname (like Simon Bar-jona).
3. Bartholomew is coupled with Philip in Mt.-Mk.-Lk., leading to the conclusion he and Nathanael are the same person.
4. Some scholars believe that he was the only disciple who came from royal blood, or noble birth. His name means Son of Tolmai or Talmai(2 Samuel 3:3). Talmai was king of Geshur whose daughter, Maacah, was the wife of David, mother of Absalom.
I. THE JUST SKEPTICISM OF NATHANAEL, vs. 46
A. THE MESSIAH NOT FROM NAZARETH
1. Nathanael expressed skepticism that anything good could come from so small and inconsiderable a place as Nazareth in Galilee.
2. Nathanael didn’t speak from a solely natural perspective, but from a spiritual perspective. Nothing and no one great were prophesied as coming from Nazareth. This view wasn’t his alone.
3. The Jewish leaders said the same thing to Nicodemus. “They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.’” John 7:52.
4. Nazareth is in the center of Galilee.
B. THE MESSIAH IS FROM JUDAH
1. Mic. 5:2 says, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
2. Gen. 49:10 “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come…”
3. Judah’s territory is far to the south beside the Dead Sea. Nazareth is in Zebulun’s area. The Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem. The taxation of Caesar had made it so for Jesus!
II. JESUS’ 2 WORDS OF KNOWLEDGE – Vss. 47-48
A. DESCRIBED HIS CHARACTER
1. We see Jesus exercise here the spiritual gift of the word of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8; 14:6), where “the secrets of [their] heart will be laid bare” (1 Cor. 14:25).
2. Jesus commended Nathanael for his integrity; “Here is an Israelite indeed!” Not all Israelites live up to the name (Rom. 9:6), but Nathanael did! He was a Jew inwardly (Rom. 2:29) as well as outwardly.
3. He was a man in whose religion was nothing false or insincere. Ps. 32:1-2 says, “Blessed is the man whose transgressions are forgiven…and in whose spirit [LXX, ‘mouth’] there is no guile (LXX & N.T. = “dolos”).” Jesus was quoting Ps. 32 of Nathanael!
B. FOREKNOWLEDGE OF A DIVINE MOMENT
1. Nathanael said, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
2. When spiritual Jews went to meditate – i.e., spend time communing with God – they often did so by sitting under a fig tree, the emblem of the promised land. Rabbi Akiba did so (Confessions, 8:12,28).
3. So earlier that day, Nathanael had his prayer time, and evidently he had a visitation with the Living God, a God-moment; a moment special to the memory of Nathanael.
4. When Jesus explained how He knew Nathanael, He said, “I SAW YOU…under the fig tree.” More than just optics, Christ had penetrated (eidon) all that was passing in Nathanael’s mind and reached out and connected with him during his prayer time.
5. When God “looks at the earth, it trembles; who touches the mountains, and they smoke” Ps. 104:32. When Jesus “looked” at Nathanael, he also trembled! Nathanael could feel it again.
III. THE GREAT CONFESSION (not Peter!) – vs. 49
A. SON OF GOD
1. So powerful had been the experience of Nathanael with God under the fig tree, that as soon as Jesus made that declaration, Nathanael immediately recognized Him as Son of God.
2. John the Baptist had heard God the Father say, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I’m well pleased.” Ps. 2, Prov. 30:4, Dan. 3:25 & Zech. 12:10 all mention God’s Son.
3. The Son of God is of the same nature as His Father – Divine! Hebrews says the Son of God is “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life” (7:3). What an awesome thing to say about Jesus!
B. THE KING OF ISRAEL
1. This refers to the greater Son of David, the Christ, who should reign on the throne of David and reestablish Israel as the head of nations.
2. It’s always been said that it was Peter who first made the great confession of Jesus being the Christ & Son of God, but we see that it was actually Nathanael, in the 1st 50 days of Jesus ministry, that made the first great confession!
C. ARE YOU ONLY AUDITING?
1. Many people want salvation but don’t want to spend the time to become strong disciples of Christ.
2. It’s like students who go to college and “audit” a class. The good part is, they don’t have to do all the homework and take the tests.
3. The bad part is – you guessed it – they don’t get any permanent credit for taking the class. They’re just attending for informational purposes.
4. They want data without the responsibility. That’s an audit. That’s what some folks do every Sunday. They audit Jesus! [Tony Evans, p. 77]
IV. JESUS’ PROMISE OF HEAVENLY VISION
Jesus’ response to Nathanael’s confession is remarkable and elaborate: “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.” John 1:50-51.
A. PARALLEL TO JACOB AT BETHEL
1. In verse 51, the Lord Jesus quotes from Gen. 28:12, a dream that God gave to Jacob, in which he saw a stairway
from heaven extending to earth, with angels ascending and descending on it. To Jacob, this dream probably meant that heaven was open to him and that God’s angels were being dispatched to assist and serve him.
2. Gen. 28:13 says “the Lord stood above it” or beside it. Jesus here says that what Jacob saw, Nathanael would see. “The Lord” was interpreted as a reference to Jesus. And the angels would be descending & ascending – i.e., attending on Christ, to wait on and serve Him.
B. GOD’S REVELATION TO US
1. Our God is not a God who shuts Himself up in heaven. The God of most men is:
a. Impotent, powerless;
b. Deaf and dumb, and dead;
c. If alive, then unfeeling & unconcerned. It's no wonder they don't pray to him.
2. But our God has opened a communication line:
a. Thank God there's something between earth and heaven!
b. This ladder/stairway -- is meant to be traveled.
c. At the head of the stair – is our Lord Jesus! He’s the Way, the Truth, and the Life! He is the Door (John 10:9) to the Father.
d. The base of the Ladder rests on Earth; Christ was born in the manger at Bethlehem. He toiled among us as a common laborer.
e. But see where it rises: He is equal with God, co-equal in power and wisdom.
f. The bottom reaches to man and the top to God. He’s the only Mediator between God and man. God and the lost are depending on us to be bold in proclaiming Jesus as the only Savior and means to eternal life.
3. So John 1:51 is an identification of Jesus as the Lord in Jacob's dream. The Angels are at His disposal and are sent to minister to us. Praise God!
A. NATHANAEL: WHAT TRADITION SAYS
1. Tradition indicates he was a great searcher of the Scripture and a scholar in the law and the prophets. He developed into a man of complete surrender to the Carpenter of Nazareth, and one of the Church's most adventurous missionaries.
2. He is said to have preached with Philip in Phrygia and Hierapolis; also in Armenia. The Armenian Church claims him as its founder and martyr.
3. However, tradition says that he preached in India, and his death seems to have taken place there. He died as a martyr. He was flayed alive with knives. His apostolic symbol is three parallel knives.
1. If you were in jail and I posted bond for you and did all the paperwork to document that you were free. You would have been legally declared free. The problem is you’d still be in jail.
2. Why? Because there’s a gap in time between the bail being posted & actually getting out. The cell door still has to be unlocked!
3. Jesus has posted bail for you because He put the price for your sins on His tab. You’re now accepted in heaven.
4. However, you may still feel like you’re in your cell, because you have yet to have your door unlocked.
5. How do you get your cell unlocked? Believing in Him gets you free on record. Walking with Him and growing in Him makes you free in actuality. [Tony Evans, p. 78-79]
6. He who knows the Son is free in deed!
C. THE CALL
1. How many of you are tired of feeling like you’re still restrained from serving the Lord all the way?
2. Let’s don’t audit Jesus, let’s go all the way!
3. Let’s make up our minds now to walk with the Lord and let Him transform us into His image. Prayer.