About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Jesus Calls Philip And Nathaneal (ch 1:43-51)


In verse 43 we see that the next day Jesus decided to cross from the east side of the Jordan River and return to the west side, which was Galilee.  Isaiah 9:1 predicted the day when a great light would shine in Galilee.  Many believe that this prophecy was fulfilled right here in John 1 when Jesus entered Galilee to begin His ministry.  Jesus said to Philip, "Follow me".  The verb "follow me" is a Greek present imperative verb.  It was pretty much a command spoken to Philip by Jesus.  


In verse 44 we learn that Philip was from Bethsaida , which would have been Bethsaida of Galilee.  


In verse 45 Philip found his brother Nathanael and brought him to Jesus.  In the other gospel accounts Nathanael is called Bartholomew.  Bethsaida means "the house of fish."  Bethsaida was clearly a fishing city.


Philip told Nathanael that he had found the one that Moses and the prophets wrote about.  He was Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph.  As I stated earlier in my commentary Deuteronomy 18:15 states that there would be a prophet like Moses who would rise within Israel.  This is what Philip would have meant when he said that he had found the one Moses spoke about.    


In verse 46 we note Nathanaelís first
impresion was, "can any good thing
come out of Nazareth?"  Why would
he say this?  Nazareth was a small hill side
village.  It was not a place of culture
or refined type people.  Their dialect was unpolished as one might say.  It also was a place of moral laxity.  So Nathanaelís question was valid and reasonable.  It is interesting that Jesus was from such an unlikely city, not a place for royalty to have grown up in.  The fact of the matter is that the King of Kings grew up in what you might call a hillbilly hick town in the hills of Galilee.   


Another reason why Nathaniel might

have questions  Jesus being the Messiah is that the Old Testament predicts that the Messiah would be from the city of David, Bethlehem.  Well, we all know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem but He grew up in Nazareth.    


In verse 47 Jesus has some good things to say about Nathanael.  He says, "Here is a true Israelite, whom there is nothing false."  Quite impressive words to hear from the lips of Jesus, Iíd say.  This tells me that Nathanael was an honest and straight forward person. He had no hidden agenda.  Such a quality was a good start to be a disciple of Jesus. 


In verse 48 Nathanael asks Jesus how He knew of him.  Jesus replies by saying that He saw Nathanael while he was still under the fig tree.  When Philip found his brother, he must have been sitting under a fig tree.  Once again, we see a word of knowledge come from the lips of Jesus.  This was supernatural knowledge about Nathanael that could not have been known naturally.


Many people have speculated over what
Nathaniel was doing under the fig tree but the Bible just doesn't tell us so there is no use trying to figure that one out. 


In verse 49 we note that Nathanael was quite impressed and replied, "You are the Son of God, the King of Israel."  Obviously the words spoken by Nathanael were true, but as we see the disciples at work over the next few years we note that even though they may verbally acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, they still have a hard time understanding what that all means.


It's hard to say if Nathaniel really understood what he was proclaiming.  Many Bible teachers believe that Israelis, especially in the days of John 1, did not associate their Christ, the Messiah, with being the Son of God.  Whatever the case, his confession was accurate.  


In verse 50 Jesus told Nathanael that he believed because he saw a miracle from Jesus, that is the word of knowledge, but this was nothing compared to what Nathanael would see.  In verse 51 Jesus told him that he would see heaven open and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. 


Note that Nathaniel called Jesus the Son of God but Jesus called Himself the Son of Man.  The term Son of Man comes from Daniel 7:13 where the text states that one like the Son of Man would come on the clouds and approach the Most High.  The point in Daniel is that the Son of Man is a designation of divinity.  The one spoken of here is both bully God and fully man.  That is exactly who Jesus was.   


What does the reference to the angels mean?  It is my thinking that angels helped Jesus in the circumstances in which He found Himself.   Whether Nathanael and the others actually saw angels coming down upon Jesus or not is hard to say, but they certainly saw the effects of these angels and how they ministered to Jesus.                


If you remember in Genesis 28:10 Jacob saw angels ascending and descending from heaven in a dream.  I'm not sure of the connection, but it is my guess that there is some connection between Jacob's dream and Jesus' words here.  Jacob's dream might well have been prophetic of Jesus, as many Bible teachers believe

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