Monday, February 21, 2011

Jesus Talked With Nathanael

Philip had run to his closest friend and told him about Jesus. In response to his friend's understandable skepticism, Philip merely said, Come and see for yourself.

Notice that when he came into view, Jesus saw Nathanael, He saw his heart, and said “Here’s a real Israelite.” That must have been humbling for Nathanael, because he had kind of implied Jesus wasn’t, since Jesus was from Nazareth.

Then Jesus said, “In him is no deceit,” or “no guile.” Jesus was saying Nathanael was honest and up front, he had integrity. This must have made Nathanael pretty uncomfortable! How could Jesus understand him like that?

Then Jesus told him,
"Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." (John 1:48)
What Nathanael said next is remarkable
"Rabbi, you are the Son of God and the King of Israel!" (John 1:49)
That was the most dramatic thing any of these men had said yet about Jesus. How did such a skeptic turn into a believer, just like that? What could possibly have happened in Nathanael’s heart?

The fig tree was the common place for prayer, especially for young rabbinic students. And in Nathanael’s day, the rabbis taught that every time one prayed they were to pray for the coming of the Messiah. So what was Nathanael doing when Philip came to find him? Nathanael put two and two together in his mind. Only Messiah would have seen him praying for Messiah.

Nathanael’s response of faith must have pleased Jesus, because He gave further revelation – that’s what happens when you and I respond to God in believing faith, He opens our eyes to even deeper insight,
"Did you believe me just because I said that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see something even greater. I tell you for certain that you will see heaven open and God's angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man." (John 1:50-51)
This is the first time the term “Son of Man” comes up, and is rich with meaning. We will study more what this phrase means as we get deeper into the blended gospels.

Jesus was talking about Jacob’s dream as he was running away from his brother, falling asleep alone in the desert. Jacob saw the angels going up and down from earth to God and he knew God would be with him. The actual staircase was hidden in plain view! How many people must have read about Jacob’s dream over the centuries and never even thought about the significance of that staircase.

The staircase was Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, connecting God with people.
God uses witnesses to bring people to Jesus
The natural overflow of discovering Jesus for these men was to bring others to Him. So how strong is that natural overflow in your life and mine right now? Which is stronger, self-consciousness, lack of confidence, and wanting people to like you; or a sense of excitement to introduce people to Jesus?

When you and I love God the most, we will point people to Him, and not to ourselves, regardless of the circumstances. How well do you and I do that? How well do we point people to Jesus by urging them to pray and look to the Bible for answers, instead of to ourselves for answers? Who will you ask to “come and see” Jesus this week?

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