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John 1:43-51 Sermon

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Scripture

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip 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.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Main Idea: To follow Christ is to see Christ!

Introduction

Luke 9:57–62 ESV
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
To follow Jesus.
Question: What has it cost you? And how can we overcome the loss of following Jesus Christ?
Question: What has it cost you?
Question: Who can open the eyes of the blind?
And let’s say we went over to him and prayed for them.
Question: How can we overcome the loss of following Jesus Christ?
Question: Another question we should ask is has it cost you anything to follow Him?
Have you said, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But then followed that with “Lord, let me first go and bury my father?” Or “Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home?”
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Question: Does following Jesus Christ mean loss? Answer: Yes. If you consider the things of this world gain.
But when one sees who Jesus is and believes in who He said He was and they don’t look back to what is temporal and not worth comparing to Him, then one has gained all that they need.
The problem in the visible church is that we have lost sight of who Jesus is. We have bought into a culture of looking back to what we have.
We have deceived ourselves into believing that what we have is all we have. But this is a symptom of a soul that has not cherished Christ as enough!
If we only knew of the magnificence of Jesus Christ, we would gladly trade everything for the sake of knowing and being with Christ!
If we only knew of the magnificence of Jesus Christ, we would sing songs in the night when heartbreak and ruin happens.
If we only could remember of the magnificence of Jesus Christ, we would count all is loss and not worthy to be compared to Him.
In our text, we see how the eyes of one opens. And we also see who it is that open them.
And what he sees is what every person needs to see. Every person we share the gospel with needs to see Jesus Christ as the Son of God!

Outline

Every person
1. Jesus tells Philip to follow Him (v.43-44)

Verse 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”

Read Verse 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter

2. Philip finds Nathanael (v.45-46)

Read Verse 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

3. Jesus sees Nathanael (v.47-48)

Read Verse 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

Verse 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

4. Nathanael sees Jesus (v.49-51)

Read Verse 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Verse 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”

Verse 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

1. Jesus tells Philip to follow Him (v.43-44)

1. Jesus tells Philip to follow Him (v.43-44)

Verse 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”

This portion of Scripture gives us the fourth day since John the Baptist gave witness to Jesus Christ.
Jesus decided to go to Galilee.

1:43–51 This section introduces the fourth day since the beginning of John the Baptist’s witness (cf. vv. 19, 29, 35).

Galilee is known for being the home of Jesus Christ.
The lower part of Galilee, where Jesus grew up, was where He spent part of His earthly life and ministry.
Galilee was roughly 60 miles north from Jerusalem.
It is equivalent to walking from here to Carlisle or from here to King of Prussia.
The name Galilee comes from two Hebrew words meaning “circuit” or “district.
Galilee does not play much of a significant role in the Old Testament for the people of Israel.
But in the New Testament we see that it is heavily populated.
The region sits west from the Sea of Galilee, making it the right place to be for water and agriculture.
The prophet Isaiah prophecies of it as the place where Jesus would live in which is confirmed in Matthew 4:12-15.
Isaiah 9:1 ESV
1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
Matthew 4:13–15 ESV
13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
Matthew 4:12–15 ESV
12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
This is where our Lord finds Philip and says to him, “Follow me.”
Throughout the gospel of John Jesus talks about following Him and it is a call to one to walk with Him and to come under His teaching.
About 17 times Jesus speaks of following Him as:
Jesus speaks of following Him as walking with Him
Jesus speaks of following Him as the way not to walk in darkness
Jesus speaks of following Him as the result of those who hear His voice
Jesus speaks of following Him as one who has come to serve Him
There was one point where Jesus said they couldn’t follow Him and it was when He would die.
There was one point where Jesus said they couldn’t follow Him and it was when He would die.
But He did say that they could follow Him after. Pointing to His resurrection.
Here in our text Jesus is calling Philip to follow Him which was a call to walk with Him and to come under His teaching.
Philip was from Bethsaida in Galilee (; ). It

Read Verse 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter

Philip was from Bethsaida in Galilee (; ). It was also where Andrew and Peter were.
Philip is first seen here sharing with Nathanael about Jesus.
Later, we see Philip being approached by the Greeks from Bethsaida who asked Philip to introduce them to Jesus ().
Philip would count the money it would take to feed the 5,000 ().
In the Last Supper, Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, which led to Jesus’ statement, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” ().
The last time the Bible speaks of Philip is when they gathered in Jerusalem to pray after the Lord’s ascension ().
Tradition states that Philip went to Turkey as a missionary where he was martyred. Which is usually the case historically for the disciples.
We see in the gospels that Philip answered the Lord’s call to follow Him.
And he does what those who follow Christ should do. He shares with someone else.

2. Philip finds Nathanael (v.45-46)

Read Verse 45 Philip 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.”

What Philip shared with Nathanael sums up what we are to share! At least the first half.
“We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote.”
Question: What did Moses and the prophets write about Jesus?

How small was the measure of Philip’s faith appears from this circumstance, that he cannot utter a few words about Christ without mingling with them two gross errors. He calls him the son of Joseph, and says, that Nazareth was his native town, both of which statements were false; and yet, because he is sincerely desirous to do good to his brother, and to make Christ known, God approves of this instance of his diligence, and even crowns it with good success. Each of us ought, no doubt, to endeavour to keep soberly within his own limits; and, certainly, the Evangelist does not mention it as worthy of commendation in Philip, that he twice disgraces Christ, but relates that his doctrine, though faulty and involved in error, was useful, because it nevertheless had this for its object, that Christ might be truly known.

Deuteronomy 18:15 ESV
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—
There are over 300 messianic prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus (examples).
Jesus’ birth in fulfilled in .
Jesus’ flight to Egypt in fulfilled in .
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in fulfilled in .
And Jesus’ death on the cross in and fulfilled in .
We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote
Moses and the prophets have spoken of Jesus Christ. Philip had already been convinced. And he sought to share about Him.
Philip would also mention that Jesus was of Nazareth..
We know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Philip had already been convinced that Jesus was
the son of Joseph.
Although Bethlehem was the place of Jesus’ birth, Nazareth was the place where Jesus had lived until He began His public ministry.
Philip said that Jesus was:
of Nazareth
the son of Joseph.
Philip would also mention that Jesus was of Nazareth.
Nazareth was a very small town, south of Galilee.
Philip would also mention that Jesus was of Nazareth..
We know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Although Bethlehem was the place of Jesus’ birth, Nazareth was the place where Jesus had lived until He began His public ministry.
Nazareth seems to be a place thought as not being a good place according to verse 46 of our text.
Jesus living there was a fulfillment of prophecy.
Matthew 2:23 ESV
23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Nazareth is seems to be a place thought as not being a good place according to verse 46 of our text.
Philip would call Jesus the son of Joseph, which according to John Calvin’s commentary, was foolish.
Foolish because He should have addressed His Messianic title. Telling Nathanael this would have probably misled him to believe that Jesus was physically a son of Joseph.
Which makes sense that Nathanael would respond the way he did in verse 46.

Read Verse 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
The idea then was that no prophet would rise from Galilee according to .
In , we see that Nazareth was seen negatively and it was used to degrade people.
The two other times where Jesus was addressed as the son of Joseph, we see that it was connected to doubts people had about Jesus being the One of whom the prophets spoke of.
Jesus after rolling up the scroll and telling them of the Scriptures being fulfilled when speaking Himself, they said in
Luke 4:22 ESV
22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
Jesus after telling people that He was the Bread that came down from heaven they said in ,
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
John 6:42 ESV
42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
I agree with Calvin on the foolishness of presenting Christ to someone as the son of Joseph.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .
But it is very encouraging to see Christ overcome this with what He does next.
This also should encourage us to be careful in how we present Jesus Christ to others.
Question: What are some of the things today that we could say about God that can entangle one more into their skepticism and doubt?
We should care in our evangelism. Though the gospel message is simple and clear. The Christian must treat it as sophisticated and complex. Because it is.
All the mechanics involved in our theology must produce a strong, clear and simple gospel message.
We should care in our theology so that our practice is evident and our words careful and faithful to what the gospel is.
We will make mistakes and as we see here, God can overcome our mistakes when sharing the gospel.
Another pattern I’ve seen briefly here in is that disciples shared Jesus to others.
We often go to the book of Acts to prove this but we see it here in John 1
John the baptist witnesses and makes disciples (which meant that he was sharing)
Andrew shares with his brother Peter
And in our text Philip shares with Nathanael
Question: What stops us from sharing with others?
Sharing the gospel should be normal for those who say they follow Christ.
Especially the church. When a church ceases to evangelize they cease to hold the title followers of Christ.
Sharing could look differently within the local church.
But how are you sharing the gospel?
This is a good question for us to ask ourselves. Especially in our couched culture and generation.
Philip faced Nathanael’s response here where he said “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” with urging Nathanael to go see Jesus.
Philip would then urge Nathanael to go see Jesus regardless.

3. Jesus sees Nathanael (v.47-48)

Read Verse 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

Here having no deceit does not mean having no sin.
Jesus is speaking of Nathanael’s real desire to examine what Philip told him.
John 1:47 KJV 1900
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
The term deceit or guile was meant to communicate that one ceased from being a supplanter. Which pointed to Nathanael’s genuine desire to see Jesus.
Some scholars pointed out the Jacob and Esau story to explain this.

The reference here may be an allusion to Gen. 27:35 where Jacob, in contrast to the sincere Nathanael, was known for his trickery. The meaning may be that the employment of trickery characterized not only Jacob but also his descendants. In Jesus’ mind, an honest and sincere Israelite had become an exception rather than the rule (cf. 2:23–25).

Jacob used trickery to deceive. To take what he wanted from his father.
Jesus may have been pointing out Nathanael’s sincerity in comparison to everyone in Israel.
The reference here may be an allusion to where Jacob, in contrast to the sincere Nathanael, was known for his trickery. The meaning may be that the employment of trickery characterized not only Jacob but also his descendants. In Jesus’ mind, an honest and sincere Israelite had become an exception rather than the rule (cf. 2:23–25).
It may have spoken of him personally being that way or it was Jesus pointing to all of those who would reject him.
Nathanael responds to Jesus in verse 48.

Read Verse 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

Nathanael had in mind the son of Joseph and one who came from Nazareth.
With calling him the son of Joseph, Nathanael thought of Him as just a man.
He wasn’t the One who had come down from heaven.
He came from Nazareth.
Nothing good comes from Nazareth.
But Nathanael came to see Him with no desire to trick or to be tricked into anything.
Jesus would do this through out the gospels.
Jesus responds with with having knowledge beyond the limits of a man. Jesus would do this through out the gospels.
Jesus being truly God saw Nathanael in detail before Philip bringing him to Christ and before Philip called him.
This wasn’t a vague prophetic act. This was an accurate description of something that truly happened. And it was one that would lead to what an act like should lead to.
It lead to Jesus Christ Himself being who He said He was and Nathanael seeing who Jesus said He was!
Jesus sees Nathanael first. Then afterwards, Nathanael was able to see Jesus. Which is what actual evangelism is all about.
Jesus tells Nathanael “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Jesus tells Nathanael “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Nathanael sees Jesus for who He said He was.
Jesus saw Nathanael before being told about Him.
Nathanael, who had his doubts, responds.

4. Nathanael sees Jesus (v.49-51)

Read Verse 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

This should be the desired result for every disciple who shares the gospel!
Nathanael went from Jesus the son of Joseph, who came from Nazareth to Jesus a Rabbi, the Son of God and the King of Israel.
Nathanael saw Jesus from the son of Joseph to:
Rabbi which means teacher. This shows his admission to Jesus being a true teacher.
Son of God. This shows his belief in His deity and His Messianic title.
King of Israel. Which shows what all of Israel needed.
Notice also who convinced Nathanael. It was Jesus and not Philip.
This is basic evangelism. Jesus is the One who opens eyes. Our responsibility is to share.
Nathanael had his doubts. But Jesus overcame his doubts!
This is an example of the doctrine of irresistible grace!
The doctrine is also known as “effectual calling,” or the “efficacious call of the Spirit.”
The doctrine of irresistible grace (effectual calling) refers to the biblical truth that whatever God decrees to happen in the salvation of individuals will come to pass.
Irresistible Grace means that when God moves to save a person, the sinner cannot successfully resist God's gracious will upon him and that they will be regenerated.
Some have had misinterpretations to this doctrine.
R.C. Sproul said,
“However, the idea of irresistibility conjures up the idea that one cannot possibly offer any resistance to the grace of God. However, the history of the human race is the history of relentless resistance to the sweetness of the grace of God. Irresistible grace does not mean that God’s grace is incapable of being resisted. Indeed, we are capable of resisting God’s grace, and we do resist it. The idea is that God’s grace is so powerful that it has the capacity to overcome our natural resistance to it. It is not that the Holy Spirit drags people kicking and screaming to Christ against their wills. The Holy Spirit changes the inclination and disposition of our wills, so that whereas we were previously unwilling to embrace Christ, now we are willing, and more than willing.”
Nathanael came with wanting not the be deceived but had the wrong ideas of Jesus Christ.
And Jesus, who had already seen Nathanael even before being told by Philip who he was, he ends up professing opposite of what he came with!
Jesus overcame his carnal disposition with exactly what he needed.
Jesus convinced Him
Which was the exposure of Jesus as the Son of God!
Jesus answers
Jesus would answer Nathanael in verse 50.

Read Verse 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”

The language could actually say, “I told you, I saw you when you were under the fig tree. Is it just because of that that you believe?”
Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Gospel of John, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 51.
Jesus is saying no. Nathanael believed because of Jesus being the Son of God.
The sign or act of having this knowledge didn’t save Him. It was the reality of who Jesus was that caused Him to believe.
Never confuse methods in evangelism with grace.
People are not saved because of events, music, eloquent words or good information.
People are not saved because of your zeal, your faithfulness, your gifts and talents.
People are not saved because of cultural relevance or good church programs.
They are saved by grace through faith which can only happen when God sees someone and shows mercy. As was done with Nathanael here in our text!
Question: So what could be greater than seeing Jesus as the Son of God?
Well, Jesus the Son of God in His humiliation is what Nathanael saw and believed!
The greater would be Jesus the Son of God in His exaltation.
In fact, it is what we are promised to see when He returns!

Verse 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Jesus here refers to Jacob’s dream in .
Jacob had a dream about a ladder from heaven.
This was Jesus’ admission to Him being the way to heaven.
Meaning that the way to the Father was through the Son.
Pointing to Jesus as the incarnate ladder of Jacob.
Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man over 80 times.
It was a title that was given by the prophet Daniel in
Daniel 7:13 ESV
13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

Jesus’ point to Nathanael was that just like Jacob experienced supernatural or heaven-sent revelation, Nathanael and the other disciples would experience supernatural communication confirming who Jesus was.

The other point Jesus was making to Nathanael was that just as Jacob saw a heaven-sent revelation, Nathanael and the other disciples would experience supernatural communication confirming who Jesus was I believe through the resurrection.
The way to the Father was only through Jesus Christ. And the way the disciple Nathanael would get revelation from God was through Jesus Christ.
This is pointing to Jesus Christ being the full revelation of God. The Word of God! Which is how this chapter began!
Nathanael in the other gospels is also called Bartholomew.
Nathanael in the other gospels is also called Bartholomew.
Nathanael would be one who saw the risen Lord Jesus () and was present at the Ascension ().
Tradition says that Nathanael would go to minister the gospel in Persia and India.
The Bible doesn’t record of his death, but tradition has it either he was tied up in a sack and dropped into the sea or that he was crucified.
What all the traditions do point to is that he died a martyr’s death.
Question: How can we overcome the loss of following Jesus Christ?
The answer to how can we overcome the loss is found in the worth of Jesus Christ. Which comes from a son of Joseph belief to Jesus being the Son of God!
Nathanael believed, not because of the sign but because of the reality of who Jesus Christ is.
He is the incarnate ladder of Jacob. The full revelation of God that saves and still saves today!
This is who we are to share today!
Jesus came from heaven to make a way to heaven.
He ascended into heaven to present Himself before the Father as our inheritance and reason to come.
The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ!
That is why we share what we share. Jesus is the only way to the Father.
He is the incarnate ladder of Jacob!
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