Nathanael’s encounter with Jesus revealed the secrets of his heart and gave him hope for greater things in life than he ever thought possible. The following message is by Pastor Greg Harvey, pastor of CornerStone Worship Center. He’s a powerful preacher and great Bible expositor. His messages are well worth the read and even more worth listening to.
“The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 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.’ And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!’ Nathanael 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.’ Nathanael answered and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus 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.’” (John 1:43–50 NKJV)
Nathanael the Skeptic – Someone We Can Relate To
I love the story of Nathanael becoming a disciple more than all the others. I can relate to a Nathanael more than the others. The stories of a Peter, James, and John, just dropping their nets and following Him, just don’t relate to most of us, like the story of Nathanael.
Jesus had just found Philip, Philip then goes and finds Nathanael to introduce him to Jesus. Isn’t that a great picture of evangelism? As soon as Philip meets Jesus, he goes and finds someone else so they can meet Jesus too. He’s excited and tells Nathanael, we found Him, we found the Messiah, the One the prophets spoke about, Jesus of Nazareth.
Nathanael’s response is, “How can anything good come out of Nazareth?” In other words, I don’t believe you. I have been around this area my whole life and I have seen what has come out of that area and it hasn’t been hope. I have heard about the Messiah coming my whole life and I haven’t seen Him yet. I don’t believe that you have found the answer. Not here, not in my lifetime, and certainly not out of Nazareth.
Nathanael made a stereotype from what he had seen. We all do this same thing, I think that’s why it’s easy to relate to a Nathanael. We base our faith, hope, and trust on what we have seen in the past. When we have a problem we say, “How can anything good come out of this? How can Christ come out this sickness? How can Jesus come out this trouble? How can find hope come out of this despair?”
How can anything good come out of Nazareth? I have seen what has come out of Nazareth before, and God wasn’t in it. Like Nathanael, we base where God can show up, from our past experience. Philip simply says to Nathanael, “Come and see.”
I challenge you, come and see. Just come and see what my God will bring out of your despair. Come and see that love will show up out your hurt. Come and see that hope will rise up out your pain. Quit judging from your past and come and see Him for your self.
Jesus Reads Nathanael’s Mail
Jesus says, “here comes a true Israelite in whom is no deceit.” Jesus was speaking of his character. He was saying, “I really know who you are Nathanael.” Before Philip could even introduce him to Jesus, Jesus is saying, I knew you. You are a real Israelite, doing your best to follow the law of Moses. You aren’t a hypocrite like some of the others that say their Israelites, you really want a relationship with God, you really want to know Him.
Nathanael responds with, “How do you know me?” Jesus said, “I saw you under the fig tree, before Philip found you. I saw you when you were all alone, when no one else saw you. I knew you before you knew me.”
Isn’t that the thing that draws us to Christ? He sees your lonely moments. In your quiet moments, He’s there. He knew you before you knew Him. He loved you before you loved Him. He was there for you when no one else was. When you were saying, “How can good come out of this,” He was there.
Nathanael says, “You are the Son of God.” When you encounter Him, you really know who He is. That is the moment it gets real in your life. When God reads your mail, peels back your layers of hurt, pain, and despair, and says, “I was with you even then,” that’s when you find out who He is.
Greater Things Are Yet to Be Seen
Jesus lets him know greater things are yet to be seen. He says, “Because I was with under the fig tree, you believe? Because I knew you before you knew Me, because I loved you before you loved Me, do you believe in Me? You haven’t seen anything yet. Follow Me and you will see greater things than this.” Don’t just believe in Me, but follow Me. Trust in Me. Follow Me and you will see greater far things.
Believing in Jesus is just the beginning. I’m afraid to many Christians are just believing in Him, but not following Him. Christ is saying, if you follow Me, you’ll see greater things. I have more to show than just that I know you. I want to reveal to you My power. I want to show you who really I am.
Jesus then takes Nathanael and performs His first miracle. Nathanael saw the water turn to wine. He saw Jesus raise the dead, cast out demons, feed the multitude, cause the blind to see, heal the sick, get money out of fishes mouth, and so on. He saw greater things because he followed Jesus.
Jesus wants to show you greater things if you will go beyond just believing in Him to actually following Him. He has greater things in store for you. Trust Him! Greater things are coming your way than you could ever imagine. “Christ came as High Priest of the good (GREATER) things to come” (Hebrews 9:11).
It is amazing to think of all the wonderful things Nathanael witnessed, because he responded to Jesus and followed Him. What is even more amazing is what Jesus said would take place after His departure through His followers. Jesus told Nathanael at an encounter moment, you’ll see greater things, but he told Him later, those who believe in Me will do even greater things. He said,
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even GREATER THINGS than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:12–14 NIV)
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21 NKJV)
God is about greater things! He’s wanting to do greater things in your life than you ever imagined. He’s just asking you to trust Him enough to follow Him.