John 1:43-51 Devotional Commentary

He keeps calling, Devotional Commentary for February 28-March 6

John 1:43-51 (NKJV)

This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.

1:43-44
43The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me."
44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

It was the day after Andrew brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. Jesus then decided to return to Galilee, and there He saw Philip and invited him to be His follower. Philip was from the same town as Andrew and Peter. They were all from Bethsaida.

Now Jesus' followers had reached four including: John's two disciples, Simon Peter, and now Philip. Jon's two disciples were encouraged to follow Jesus by John himself with his testimony that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Simon Peter was brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew. And now, Jesus Himself saw Philip and called him to be one of His Disciples. Whatever each one was doing ended right away and these men began their lifelong journey with Jesus. They became Jesus' Disciples.

1:45-46
45Philip 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."
46And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

Perhaps taking his cue from Jesus, Philip did exactly what Jesus did when inviting John's two Disciples to come to His place and see. After responding to Jesus' call to be a follower, Philip found Nathanael and told him about Jesus. Philip said to Nathanael, they found the One about Whom Moses and the Prophets wrote. Philip effectively told Nathanael that the prophetic words of Moses and the Prophets are all fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Philip was deliberate and careful how he identified Jesus when he talked about Him with Nathanael. First, he identified Jesus as the ultimate focus of the prophetic promises of the Old Testament and the teachings of Moses. This was very important to the Jewish people because they were waiting for the promised Messiah to come at any time. Philip also mentioned Jesus by His contemporary identity as the son of Joseph, by which He was known in the community.

As far as Philip was concerned, there was no confusion as to Whom he meant when he told Nathanael about Jesus. But Nathanael was skeptical. He did not expect anything good to come out of the city of Nazareth, much less, the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy or the coming of the Lamb of God. Nathanael considered Nazareth's disrepute and doubted the Truth about Jesus. But Philip took the Truth to heart and shared the Good News with Nathanael patiently, in person. Philip invited Nathanael to come and see for himself Who the Messiah is.

1:47-51
47Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"
48Nathanael 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."
49Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
50Jesus 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."
51And 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."

Nathanael accepted Philip's invitation and came to see Jesus, the Messiah, the Lamb of God. But he did not know that he was in for a great surprise. Jesus welcomed Nathanael and gave a remarkably positive assessment of his character.

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He said, there! is an Israelite in whom there is no guile. Jesus affirmed that Nathanael was a man of integrity. He was honest. Nathanael was surprised by Jesus' remarks. As far as Nathanael was concerned, he just met Jesus for the first time. How could He, Jesus, say anything about him, much less, make complimentary remarks?!

Nathanael responded to Jesus' remarks with a question of his own. He wondered, how could Jesus know Him. He sort of asked, have we met before? Jesus told him that He saw him sitting under a fig tree, before Philip brought him to meet the Messiah.

Jesus took notice of Nathanael before Nathanael ever heard that Jesus is actually the Messiah. When Nathanael realized that Jesus already knew him, he exclaimed that Jesus is indeed the Son of God and Israel's King. Nathanael realized that he was in the presence of the Omniscient God in Jesus Christ clothed in human flesh. But Jesus told Nathanael that he should not be surprised by His prior knowledge of him. There is more to come.

Jesus assured Nathanael that he would yet see greater things in Jesus. He would observe heaven open and see God in Jesus Christ. He would see angels busy in the service of God. Perhaps referring to Jacob's dream of a stairway to heaven, Jesus told Nathanael that he would see in Him a stairway to heaven bridging the gap between man and God. So Jesus encouraged Nathanael to hope for more in Him, to see God and experience His Grace, Mercy, and Power.

Notes/Applications

As we meditate on the closing verses of the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we observe a series of personal encounters of different people with Jesus, with a wide spectrum of experiences and testimonies. We have already heard the testimony of John the baptizer who introduced Jesus to us as the Lamb of God Who came to take away the sin of the world. Then we met Andrew, one of the two Disciples of John who followed Jesus. Andrew brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus after having spent time alone with Jesus. He found the Messiah and wanted his brother to do the same.

Then we met Philip who was called to discipleship by Jesus directly and in person. Philip confirmed Who Jesus is and invited Nathanael to come and see the fulfillment of God's promise in Jesus Christ and become a Disciple himself. Now we meet Nathanael the honest skeptic who did not suspect Nazareth to be the home of the Messiah. But Jesus' Truth was irresistible. Nathanael acknowledged the Deity and the Lordship of Jesus the Christ.

Now totaling five, the Disciples of Jesus had become the followers of Messiah. Even though they were all different from each other, the Power which worked in them was the same. It was irresistible. They saw Jesus, they believed. They heard from Jesus, they believed. They understood that Jesus is the Way Who bridged the gap between man and God. They individually came to Jesus and walked across the Bridge from death to Life and from darkness to Light.

Here at Practical Christianity Foundation we believe that God has mercifully extended His Grace toward us and has given us His living and Holy Word to guide us in our journey in this world. We count it privilege to come alongside you and minister to you through prayer and the sharing of God's living and holy Word. Please contact us if you have any questions concerning your faith and journey as a Christian.

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