Summary: Nathan had a pure spirit that found Jesus
Disciple #6 Pure Nathanael
The sixth disciple we are going to look at is Bartholomew and/or Nathanael. Most Bible scholars believe Bartholomew’s other name is Nathanael. Nathanael is mentioned in John but never mentioned in Matthew, Mark or Luke. Because ‘Bartholomew’ follows ‘Philip’ in three of the lists (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16), some scholars have identified him with the ‘Nathanael’ whom Philip brought to Jesus (John 1:45-51; Bartholomew is never mentioned in John, nor is Nathanael in Matthew, Mark, or Luke).
43 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. 45 Philip found Nathanael and 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.”
46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
I call Nathan pure because Jesus said Nathan had pure motives verse 47. Nathan was a true Israelite, he was looking for the messiah and knew all about Him from the scriptures (vs 44). This is an account that shows if a person is truly seeking after God, and not the god they want, they will find God. The parallel to Nathan is Jacob, who was the father of the Israel nation. Israel got their name from Jacob in Genesis 32:28, when God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. The focus of the story of Nathan is more about the focus on Jacob.
Jacob’s name means “supplanter” or to trade with another by means of trickery. Nathans name means a gift from God. Perhaps the reason these two men had such different character traits is how their parents viewed them. One parent saw their son as a schemer, the other saw their son as a gift from God. Jacob is well remembered for his trickery with his dad, Isaac.
Isaac was old in years and Jacobs’s older brother Esau, by about one minute, was to receive the birthright and blessing from Isaac. Jacob swindled his brothers birthright from him with a bowl of stew, when Esau came back from hunting, hungry. Jacob grew up swindling because he knew Esau was his daddy’s favorite son. As Isaac was dying in bed with poor eyesight, he called Esau in to his bedside to receive the blessing, Jacob and his momma devised a plan to put sheep’s wool on Jacob’s arms and neck so he would appear like his hairy brother. Jacob and his momma pulled the scheme off and Jacob received Esau’s birthright. When Esau found out about the trick he was so mad he wanted to kill Jacob. When momma found out Esau wanted to kill Jacob, she told Jacob to go to her brother’s house in a distant land (Gen 27).
On his way to uncle’s house, Jacob stops at a place to camp overnight. During the night Jacob has a vivid dream that gave him a glimpse into the future. Jacob dreamed of a ladder going from earth to heaven and angels going up and down that ladder. This dream was symbolic that through him, he will be a link between heaven and earth. That link later became the Israel nation and ultimately Jesus. However, this dream caused Jacob to think about God, but he still didn’t end his deceitful ways. When Jesus tells Nathan he will see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man in John 1:51, this is a direct reference to Jacob’s ladder.
Jacob continues his journey and goes to his uncle’s house (Laban) and falls in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel. Laban in turn tricks Jacob into serving him for fourteen years to get Rachel as his wife, he also got beautiful Rachel’s ugly sister Leah, from one of Laban’s deceptions. Jacob continues with his deception with a sheep breeding program of Laban’s herd, so Jacob ends up with a large flock of sheep (Gen 30:42). Jacob and Laban finally part ways and Jacob hears the Lord tell him to go back to his fathers land.