Year 2 Day 169
Read - John 1v43-51
Message - Scott Woodburn
You may have noticed that John talks about an Apostle called Nathanael while the other Gospels talk about Bartholomew. What do we do with this? Who should we trust? The issue disappears when we give the Apostle his full title - Nathanael Bar Tolmai. Nathanael is the son of Tolmai and so regardless of whether we talk about Nathanael or Bartholomew, we are talking about the same person.
Aside from a discussion around his name, we don’t have too much else to say about Nathanael. We know that he was from Cana in Galilee (John 21v2) but after the first chapter of John little else is said. Yet what we do learn is that Nathanael was without guile. We may know little about him but we can say for sure he wasn’t cunning or deceitful.
Philip had come to Nathanael and said “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (v45) with Nathanael’s response being “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (v46). Nathanael didn’t dress up his words nor did he hide his feelings. Nazareth was an insignificant place - could the Messiah really have come from there?
Philip invited Nathanael to see for himself and as he approached Jesus the Lord declared “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (v47). Jacob had used guile to deceive his father and win Esau’s birthright, but Nathanael wasn’t such an individual. Christ acknowledges him as a straightforward and honest man. Nathanael was amazed by Christ’s knowledge of him and declared in response “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (v48-49)
Jesus then promised that Nathanael would “see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (v51) If Nathanael lacked the guile of Jacob he would also see the reality of Jacob’s vision. Jacob saw a ladder from heaven to earth with the angels of God going up and down (Genesis 28v12), Nathanael would come to realise that Christ is the ladder of Jacob’s dream. He is the one sent from heaven to earth and He is the only way for sinful humanity to reach glory. Nathanael’s life would never be the same again. He would continue to preach the truth of Christ and would lose his life because he would not and could not deny Jesus.
It has been said that in an age of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. I believe we find ourselves in such an age. Good is called evil and evil is called good. Truth is what the spirit of the age declares it to be and woe betide anyone who speaks against it. In such an age may our lips be found without deceit and speaking the truth in love may we share the Gospel with the lost. Christ is Jacob’s ladder, a Saviour without guile or cunning, the Word of God come in the flesh. As the Apostle would write “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1v1-2) Listen to Him!
Q54 What is required in the third commandment? The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works.