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

This month we are going to looking at four different people who meet Jesus. Each came from a different place. Each had a different story. Each had a different reason why others might have thought they would have little interest in Jesus. We will look at one who was a notorious sinner. She could never change! Another was already quite religious! Another had so many problems that people just didn’t want to be around him. And then there was Nathanael. I will term him —our honest skeptic. First some facts:

Nathanael was a Jew from Galilee. His home town was Cana (Jn 21:2), where Jesus would perform his first miracle in a few days. His name meant “a gift of God,” that maybe tells us something about his parents heart when he was born. He probably was a fairly knowledgeable student of the Old Testament. When Philip invites him to meet Jesus, he appeals to his knowledge of the prophesies about the Messiah. But the most obvious characteristic of Nathanael was his skepticism. In fact, he probably could have qualified as a “missourian.” Show me first could have easily been his motto.

Did you catch his first response to Philip. His friend says, "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.

Some think that Nathanael understood the Old Testament so well that he knew the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem, not Nazareth. So if Jesus was from Nazareth, he couldn’t be the Promised One.

But it seems more likely that there was some sort of prejudice or stereotyping going on. Maybe Nazareth had a reputation. Perhaps Nazareth High was the big basketball rivalry to Cana in the All Galilee Conference. If you were from Cana, you just couldn’t say anything good about anybody from Nazareth. You know how it goes. Where I grew up it was Saybrook vs. Colfax. Here maybe its “Can any good thing come out of Curryville.”

Maybe it was a historic reputation like the Hatfields and the McCoys or the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. Maybe Nazareth was the wrong side of the tracks. Some of you know how that is. Some places or regions get a reputation that sticks to you deserved or not.

For example, my kin folk hail from Kentucky. I hope I don’t offend anyone from Kentucky, but you know that a lot of northerners just can’t see much good in Kentucky except, as they say, “bluegrass, moonshine, beautiful horses, and fast women.” My folk are from there so I can say it. It was Kentucky that Jeff Foxworthy was talking about when he said “You might be redneck if . . . .“ “If your front porch collapses and kills more than three dogs you might be from Kentucky.” “If you’ve ever been involved in a custody fight over a huntin’dog . . . . “If your baby’s first words are ”attention K-Mart Shoppers . . . .” “. . . if your family tree does not fork.” And my all time favorite, “If your wife has ever said, “Come move this transmission so I can take a bath!” you just might be from Kentucky.”

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