Summary: Nathaniel provides the example of the kind of honest skeptic Jesus delights in meeting, changing, and sending into ministry.

Jesus and the Honest Skeptic

John 1:43-51

Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

A little preschooler came home from her first time at Sunday School. Mom wanted to know how things had gone and what the little girl thought about the experience. Mom hoped she would like it and want to keep going. “How was it?” mom asked.

“Oh, it was fine and it was fun. But I think my teacher was Jesus’ grandma!”

“What makes you think that?” asked the surprised mom.

The little girl answered without hesitation, “Because she kept showing us pictures of baby Jesus. And he’s all she talked about!”

John chapter one introduces a number of people who kept talking about Jesus. John the writer of the book we are reading was one of those. This entire book is about Jesus first, last, and always. John had so much to say about Jesus that he couldn’t write it all down. Do you remember how he closes the book: (John 21:24-25) "This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. {25} Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."

John’s whole purpose for his book is revealed a chapter earlier: (John 20:30-31) "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. {31} But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

He couldn’t be clearer: Christianity, eternal life, heaven—are all based on what you know and think about Jesus. Some religions require an intimate knowledge of rituals, ceremonies, or philosophies and laws. Christianity is about a person. Those who would point others to heaven must point to a person—Jesus Christ. Imagine what an impact we might have if folk thought we might be Jesus’ grandmother or grandpa, because we talk about him so freely.

Another person who talked about Jesus was John the Baptist, so named because he was immersing so many people in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. “Someone is coming a whole lot more important that me,” he told any who would listen. (By the way, note how John 1 is organized by the calendar as if someone were keeping a daily log of events: 28—This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing; vs. 29, the next day John saw Jesus; vs. 35, the next day John was there again; vs. 43, the next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee; 2:1, On the third day a wedding took place.) When Jesus showed up, he said, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” He soon faded into the background so all of the attention could be given to Jesus. Another worthy and difficult trait!

Andrew was one of the first to follow Jesus. Once convinced that Jesus was the one he had been waiting for, he immediately found his brother Peter and brought him to Jesus. Andrew would never be the bright light that his brother would be among the Apostles, but Peter might never have known Jesus if his brother hadn’t insisted on talking about Jesus.

This brings us to Philip. Jesus invites him to join him on his road trip to Galilee. But note what Philip does first. He finds his friend (some Bible scholars think he was a cousin, perhaps even a brother) Nathanael and tells him about Jesus. Nathanael is the focus of our study today, but think about Philip for a minute. He was a brand new disciple. He may not even have half understood what he believed yet. But he knew Jesus was the best thing he had ever heard of. Jesus was simply too good to keep to himself. He couldn’t help himself. He had to talk about him. He had to tell his friend.

Interesting, it is most often new followers of Jesus who are the most effective and most enthusiastic about telling others about Jesus. This is true for a number of reasons. New believers still have more contacts with those on the outside. Often, they haven’t yet gotten their faith all cluttered with opinions and traditions. They find it easier to keep the main thing the main thing. But most importantly, they haven’t yet come to believe that other people aren’t interested. After all, they were interested.

Oh, Lord, give us more Philips. What a difference it would make in this church and in this town, if more people were so impressed with Jesus that they couldn’t help talking about him! Oh, how we need men and women and teenagers who love their friends and family so much that they want more than anything to bring them to Jesus. It doesn’t take a lot of learning, education, or experience. The only real requirements are a love for Jesus, a love for our friends, and the kind of faith that believes no one is beyond the reach of God’s love.

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