World English Bible translation
1:43On the next day, he was determined to go forth into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, "Follow me." 1:44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. 1:45 Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
1:46Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"
Philip said to him, "Come and see."
1:47Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said about him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"
1:48Nathanael says to him, "How do you know me?"
Jesus answered him,"Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
1:49Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are King of Israel!"
1:50Jesus answered him, "Because I told you, 'I saw you underneath the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." 1:51 He said to him, "Most assuredly, I tell you, hereafter you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
In today's lesson we have a story very similar to the one before it. Yesterday we read of Andrew and Peter. Today we read of Philip and Nathanael. Jesus decides to leave the area of the Jordan where John was baptizing and return to Galilee. He finds Philip and tells him to "Follow me." Philip obeys and also tells his friend Nathanael about Jesus. Philip's words are similar to those of Andrew. "We have found him..."
Nathanael's first response is to question whether anything good could come out of Nazareth. There had been no prophecies of the Messiah coming from Nazareth. It was a rural town much as their own. There were many greater cities in the area within a day's walk.
Philip's response to Nathanael's questioning is instructive. He does not argue with Nathanael or rationalize. He tells Nathanael the same words that Jesus has already said, "Come and see." First Philip has seen and now he tells his friend to come and see. Nothing is more convicting in the lives of people than the sincere, direct testimony of experience. Come and see. God has done this in my life. God is working. Come and see.
To understand what happens when Nathanael sees Jesus one must be familiar with the story of Jacob in the book of Genesis. God had made a promise with Jacob's grandfather, Abraham. God had told Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation, that he would be blessed and protected. "I will be your God and you will be my people."
Jacob had gotten himself into some trouble and was fleeing in the wilderness. In the night, he had a dream that the heavens opened up and angels were ascending and descending between heaven and where he was. In this dream God renewed to Jacob the promise that He had given to Abraham.
Jesus says something that amazes Nathanael; something about what Nathanael was doing before Philip came to speak with him. Jesus says, in effect, don't be amazed that I knew what you were doing before Philip came and spoke with you. Greater things than this are happening. The promises that God made to Abraham are being renewed. God was again calling out a people unto Himself through the work of His Son.
The promises of God are being fulfilled today in the work that Jesus does even now through His church. Are we willing to accept His work and become a part of that promise?
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