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Lesson 09 - Nathanael - John 01 45-51

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  1. Who is this Nathanael?
    1. His FULL name may have been Nathanael Bartholomew

  1. We know LITTLE about Nathanael
    1. Very little WRITTEN about him
    2. From the few verses we get a good insight though into his CHARACTER



A. This is seen in the way Philip TELLS Nathanael about Jesus


John 1:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph


1.      Think we can ASSUME that these two had spent a lot of time in STUDY

    1. They SEARCHED the scriptures
    2. They wanted to KNOW what the Messiah would be LIKE
    3. They wanted to KNOW when the Messiah would COME
    4. They were SEEKERS – are WE?

  1. Philip’s FIRST concern was to reach his FRIEND Nathanael
    1. Jesus has challenged PHILIP to FOLLOW Him #. PHILIP is just doing what Jesus asked

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

3.      SEE the JOY in Philips WORDS – “we have found him

a.       The ONE WHO he had been SEARCHING for, he FOUND

b.      Philip and Nathanael - KNEW the SCRIPTURES   

B. BUT Nathanael was SKEPTICAL at first


John 1:46   And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

  1. Jesus worked with TWO doubters
    1. Nathanael, one of the first disciples called
    2. Thomas, one of the last disciples called

1.)    We looked at Thomas last week

2.)    Started out slow in his faith but crossed the finish line in glory

    1. Nathanael too started out skeptical

  1. Nathanael could NOT understand how anything GOOD could come from such POOR people who lived around NAZARETH
    1. We see some PREJUDICE here #. He had allowed himself to be INFLUENCED by the world’s foolishness

  1. Nazareth
    1. Small village in GALILEE
    2. GALILEE bordered the GENTILE or heathen nations
    3. Sometimes called ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’
    4. The Jews had deep PREJUDICE against the GENTILES
    5. They considered anyone or anything TOUCHED by a GENTILE to be UNCLEAN in the sight of God
    6. Nazareth’s problem was that it TOUCHED the Gentile land
    7. Nazareth had COMMERCIAL ties with the Gentiles

  1. Story goes that when the Wright brothers were working on their first AIRPLANE in Dayton
    1. Word SPREAD about Dayton
    2. One local is reported as saying: “No man will ever fly, and if any man does fly, it won’t be anybody from Dayton.  If any man from Dayton does fly it won’t be the Wright brother.”
    3. He was wrong in all 3 cases

1.)    Man does fly

2.)    He was from Dayton

3.)    And he was a Wright brother

  1. Jesus SPOKE of such an attitude – PREJUDICE would prevail

Matthew 13:57  And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

C.  Philip was a PRACTICAL man

1.      He did not ARGUE with Nathanael

a.       He did not JUSTIFY Nazareth

b.      He SIMPLY said “Come and See

c.       He simply INVITED Nathanael to SEE Jesus

2.      Nathanael - being a TRUE seeker - went to see for HIMSELF

Jeremiah 29:13  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.



A. What a DIFFERENCE it made when Nathanael MET Jesus face to face


John 1:47   Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

1.      Jesus KNEW Nathanael

a.       Jesus KNEW that Nathanael was a SEEKER

1.)    Jesus called Nathanael an Israelite indeed

2.)    Nathanael symbolically represented ISRAEL

3.)    He BELIEVED the PROMISE of God

4.)    He tried to live up to the COVENANT name

5.)    He looked for that BLESSED hope

6.)    Jesus KNEW Nathanael

b.      Jesus KNEW his CHARACTER

1.)    Nathanael was a man without GUILE

2.)    Nathanael did not DECEIVE or mislead people

3.)    Nathanael did not HIDE what he thought

4.)    Nathanael was straightforward, open, honest

B. But now Nathanael MET the Master

1.      What more could he SAY

a.      Nathanael was a SEEKER, Nathanael was SINCERE, AND:




A. Hearing Jesus describe him as an ‘Israelite indeed’, Nathanael asked  “how do you know?”


John 1:48  Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

1.      The Palestine house of common people had only 1 room

a.       If you wanted a place of QUIET meditation

1.)    You sought the SHADE of the FIG tree

b.      There Jesus saw Nathanael PRAYING under the FIG tree

2.      It is NOT easy finding QUIET time for meditation and prayer in our MULTI room homes

a.       The radio, the TV

b.      The telephone, the computers 

c.       Silence seems to be so HARD to come by

3.      Historian writer Arnold Toynbee in his work on the ‘Rise of Civilization’

a.       Toynbee points out that the CREATIVE personalities who FOUNDED the great civilizations

1.)    THEY drew their creative power from the QUIET time

2.)    QUIET time for thinking and mediation

b.      Toynbee uses for examples:

1.)    Moses on the MOUNTAIN

2.)    Jesus in the WILDERNESS

3.)    Paul’s 3 years in ARABIA

4.      In the QUIET places OUR spirits are DEVELOPED

a.       Nathanael was a SEEKER, Nathanael was SINCERE, Nathanael was a man of PRAYER, next:


A. Nathanael was OVERWHELMED by what Jesus said

1.      How could Jesus KNOW so much about me?


John 1:49  Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.


2.      Nathanael FOUND his MESSIAH

a.       Guess something GOOD did come out of Nazareth after all

b.      No more could he RETURN to the PAST

c.       No more would his LIFE be the SAME

d.      No more because he had MET the MASTER face to face

3.      On a slab in the cathedral of Lubeck, Germany are these words:

Ye call me master and obey me not,

Ye call me light and see me not,

Ye call me Way and walk in me not.

Ye call me Life and desire me not.

Ye call me wise and follow me not,

Ye call me fair and love me not

Ye call me rich and ask me not

Ye call me eternal and seek me not

Ye call me gracious and trust me not

Ye call me noble and serve me not

Ye call me mighty and honor me not

Ye call me just and fear me not

If I condemn you, blame me not.


b.      We to are CALLED to live a life of COMPLETE obedience and trust

c.       Nathanael was a SEEKER, Nathanael was SINCERE, Nathanael was a man of prayer, Nathanael was completely DEVOTED:



A. Jesus predicted that Nathanael would SEE greater things


John 1:50-51 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

1.      FOUR times in the gospel of John we find that angels came to Jesus

a.       At His BAPTISM

b.      At His TEMPTATION

c.       On the Mount of TRANSFIGURATION

d.      And in the Garden of GETHSEMANE

2.      Back in verse 47 Jesus makes reference that Nathanael has no guile

a.       Means = craftiness, deceitfulness

b.      In reference to Jacob

c.    NOW, Jesus makes reference to an event in Jacob’s life

3.      Jacob when, as a young man, he had run away from home.

a.       In fact, he had to LEAVE home because his brother Esau was after him to murder him.

b.      His FIRST night away from home was at Bethel

                                                               i.      There the Lord appeared to him.

c.       A LADDER was let down from heaven, and on that ladder the angels were ascending and descending.

d.      The meaning for Jacob was that God had NOT lost contact with him.

e.       He had thought that when he left home, he had LEFT God back there.

f.       At Bethel he learned that God would be WITH him.

4.      Our Lord picks that up here and says that the ladder was Himself.

a.       You'll see NOW the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

b.      The angels MINISTERED to Him

c.       The angels were SUBJECT to Him.

d.      He could SEND them as messengers to heaven

e.       So Jesus says that Nathanael will see heaven OPENED and the angels of God ASCENDING and DESCENDING upon the Son of Man.

f.       He is going to see that the FATHER from the top of that ladder will SPEAK of this One, saying, ". . . This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17).

5.      The ladder is Christ, and only by Him can you and I make contact with God. The Lord Jesus said, ". . . I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

a.       He is the LADDER -- not one that you climb, but One that you trust,

b.      One that you REST upon and BELIEVE in.

6.      Jesus was MAKING a PROMISE to Nathanael 

a.       He would see more and more of the COMMUNION of the SON with the FATHER

b.      And the FATHER with the SON  

7.      What an ADVENTURE Nathanael was about to undertake

 B. TRADITION tells us that Nathanael was WHIPPED to death


1.      Died at the hands of King Astyages in Armenia



1.      Nathanael walked CLOSE to the Lord


2.      Nathanael was

a.    A SEEKER

b.    SINCERE,

c.    A man of PRAYER,

d.      Completely DEVOTED:

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