03 Jesus’ Encounter with Philip and Nathanael


Last week we studied about the calling of the first disciples. 4 people got up and left their fishing nets to follow Jesus. They were Peter, Andrew, James and John. Jesus is not done yet with calling more disciples.

John 1:43-44
43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

Jesus now calls Philip who happens to be from the same city of Andrew and Peter. We don’t know much about his background at all. Was he a fisherman? Don’t know. But Philip doesn’t stop there. After Jesus call him, what does he do?

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.

Philip goes and finds Nathanael.

  • Who is Nathanael? We don’t know if they are related or not. Definitely good friends seeing that right away Philip goes and looks for him.
  • Who is Nathanael though? Luke 6:13 talks about the 12 disciples. They are all listed out here. Look at this:
  • Luke 6:13-16
    13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
  • Notice that Philip and Bartholomew is put together. And then look at what it says in John.
  • John 21:1-2
    1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
  • Here we see the disciples and Jesus appears to them. Nathanael is among them. So he is definitely one of the disciples and most likely he is known also as Bartholomew. In other words, Nathanael would eventually become one of the disciples.

What lesson we can learn from what Philip did though?

  • He went and told his friend. He was actually excited about finding someone who matched the description of whom the Bible had been speaking about. In other words, Philip was a student of the Bible. Not just in regards to lessons that he could learn for his own life. But he was looking for the promised Messiah! He was a student of prophecy. He could say to Nathanael – we have found him whom the Bible is talking about!
  • We need to be searching our scriptures today as well to see how the Bible will reveal itself in how prophecy is being fulfilled today! Notice Philip says the Moses in the law and the prophets spoke about. Obviously this is referring to the Old Testament. Yes, we can find Jesus in the Old Testament! The people living before the first coming of Christ had enough evidence of His first coming as we do of His second coming today.
  • Not only was Philip a student of the Bible, he was sharing his faith with his friends. When he saw its fulfilment, he went looking to share his faith with his friend.
  • You know, the importance of sharing what you find in the Bible is necessary to growth in faith. But today we also need to be searching the scriptures for the second coming and the signs!

But look at Nathanael’s reaction:

  • John 1:46
    And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
  • Nathanael replies – can anything good come out of Nazareth? He doubted! Really? Messiah come out from Nazareth? Nazareth was known to be a really wicked city. Surely the Messiah would not come out from a place that wicked!
  • Jesus never made the excuse from his background and where He grew up. He never pointed to others saying that they had an unfair advantage. The spotless Son of God was brought up in a wicked part of town. Not only that, He was from a poor family!
  • I think we need to learn to be content with the background of our up-bringing. Too often we give ourselves excuses as to why we are allowed to act a certain way, or why we sin. We point to our parents. We point to our up-bringing. If only you knew how we grew up, or where I grew up. We point to all the disadvantages that life threw at us.
  • But Jesus never used that as an excuse. Yet Nathanael’s faith faltered in this Man. Really? The Saviour has come out of Nazareth? Can ANYTHING good come out from there?

How did Philip reply though? He didn’t try to justify. He didn’t try and give his friend a Bible study. He just said – Come and see for yourself.

Sometimes when we think that God calls us to the mission field, we need to be able to preach, teach, sing, or whatever. But Philip was a successful evangelist and he didn’t even use one Bible text! He just said – come and see!

  • You know I think many more people would come to know about Jesus if we would just turn on the TV and let them watch a sermon. Or just invite them to church. Or invite them to CARE group. Or just handout a book or a DVD. Or just share a link on Whatsapp. We can use all these tools to be a blessing.
  • Many of us are maybe praying for our family members tonight who have not accepted the Lord fully. But we need to go beyond praying for them. We need to buy a Bible for them to read maybe. We need to send them a sermon. We need to invite them to a church program. Or maybe you say your church doesn’t have any program that you can invite them to. Then you need to ask your pastor if you can organize a program! You got to get involved in the ministry of the church maybe! You just have to say something or do something or try something!
  • So Nathanael goes. His curiosity is stirred.

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

  • Wait what did Jesus just declare of Nathanael? He said he was an Israelite who had no guile!
  • What does guile mean? It means deceit. Where else do we see this word guile used?
  • Revelation 14:5
    And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
  • Nathanael represents a faultless group of people that will stand before God one day.God Himself will judge them and call them faultless.
  • And in this story, Jesus declares Nathanael to be without guile! This was the same Nathanael who said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
  • While yet doubtful, Nathanael still went though. It was just like what we studied about Peter. When Jesus asked him to throw his net over for a catch. Even though Peter was doubtful – he said, Master we have fished all night and caught nothing! But he didn’t stop there. NEVERTHELESS – at your word, we will try it!
  • Nathanael said – nah, nothing good can come out of Nazareth. BUT, let me go and have a look for myself. Even though in doubt, he still tried. He still tested.
  • Why? Obviously he was also a student of the word as well. Obviously he had been waiting for the man whom Moses in the law and the prophets were talking about. He was willing to check. He didn’t allow his personal bias, his own prejudice, to get the better of him.
  • I’m not saying it is OK to doubt. But let’s not allow our doubt to stop us from trying. When all odds seem stacked up against you, at least give God a fair chance before you write Him off.

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.

  • Nathanael was shocked at Jesus’ declaration about him. Jesus, how do you know me that you can say such a thing? And Jesus gives Nathanael evidence of His divinity, “I saw you even before Philip called you. You were under a fig tree.”
  • What was Nathanael doing under the fig tree? Most likely praying and meditating on the announcement that John the Baptist had made when he pointed out Jesus amongst the crowd and declared Him to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!
  • Jesus gave Nathanael enough evidence to believe. He still does the same today. What helps us to believe today? We don’t have Jesus standing before us telling us that He knows where we were and what we were doing. But we have something just as powerful.
  • John 14:29
    And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
  • What helps us to believe? When God can predict the future, tell us what is going to happen, so that when it happens, we can believe. What do we call this? It’s called prophecy! It’s called the books of Daniel and Revelation! And not just Daniel and Revelation. But the whole Bible has many prophecies that even up to this day will be fulfilled at the right time.
  • Why does God give us prophecy? To help us to believe!
  • And yet to some that is still not enough. Sometimes we choose not to believe like Thomas who was also a disciple of Jesus. Jesus had risen from the grave already and he did not see Jesus when all the other disciples saw him. But he received a testimony from the disciples about what happened. This is his response.
  • John 20:24-25
    24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
  • He chose not to believe! He wasn’t willing to listen to the testimony of his friends. Brothers that he had walked with for the past 3 ½ years! On top of that he had forgotten Jesus’ words that He would rise from the dead after 3 days. He just chose to stay in unbelief.

Friends, if your faith is waning and it seems like the fire that was started in your heart so many years ago seems to be going out, then you need to go back and re-study the prophecies! God will re-ignite the flames of your faith again!

Maybe you’ve studied Daniel and Revelation already. Maybe you’ve heard many Daniel and Revelation seminars. Maybe your church organizes such a seminar every year. Maybe you’ve even taught parts of it before.

  • Then my next question to you is, “Are you like Philip?” Have you been inviting your friends and family to come and taste Jesus? To come and see for yourself? Have you found Jesus for yourself and it has gotten you excited to tell others about Him? Is your heart burning in you to tell people what a precious friend you’ve found who is the healer of your life and heart and mind?
  • If not, maybe the truth has only been head knowledge to you and hasn’t become heart knowledge, it hasn’t become experiential or experimental.
  • Creation isn’t just a story, it’s an experience. So it is with the books of Daniel and Revelation. It’s not just books telling us about the future – the mark of the beast, Nebuchanezzar’s dream. It should be life changing!

Jesus proved Himself to Nathanael. And now look at his response:

  • John 1:49
    Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
  • Nathanael right away acknowledged him to be the Son of God. He believed! Not because he is a person easy to believe anything or what we call gullible. He believed because he had been studying scriptures. And he believed because he had a simple faith!

Then Jesus replies:

  • John 1:50-51
    50 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. 51 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.
  • What does it mean when Jesus said he would see angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man? The Son of man was obviously Christ.
  • But the angels of God? What did it mean by that? What is the purpose of angels?
  • Hebrews 1:13-14
    13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
  • The ministry of angels is to bring salvation to all men. They are the ministers of God. It is through the ministration of angels that Jesus would bring blessing to the whole world. Christ Himself declared in John 5:30 that He does nothing of His own self – meaning the power that He had on earth to perform miracles, convicting of men’s hearts through his teaching and preaching. That was all through the ministration of the angels. Angels of God ascending and descending. Carrying up the prayers of the saints, and bringing down blessings from heaven.

Basically, Christ was calling Nathanael to the gospel ministry, to be one of the 12 disciples. And today, God wants His angels still to ascend and descend upon earth. Bearing up the prayers and bringing down the blessings.

  • Christ’s disciples on earth are still to have the same work.Not studying the Bible for own self and for blessings on our own life. Not praying just for blessings upon our own life, but to be ministers of God. To study to be a blessing to others. To pray to be a blessing to others.
  • Do you want to experience answered prayers? Learn to pray for others. Pray for the salvation of others. God will always answer that sort of prayer.
  • 2 Peter 3:9
    The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  • God is not willing for anyone to perish. But He wants to use us as instruments of salvation.
  • Just as angels of God ascended and descended on Christ, it is still through Christ today that we work for the salvation of our fellow men and women in this world.

Let’s learn to pray prayers that are blessing to this world.

  • Not only prayers for self.
    • My work.
    • My studies.
    • My money.
    • My investments.
    • My family.
    • My health.
    • My LIFE!
  • Let’s learn to pray for blessings, spiritual blessings, to be poured out on others around us.
    • Our families who don’t know Christ.
    • Our neighbours – we all have neighbours.
    • Our friends from high school, college, university.
    • Our work colleagues.
    • Even customers we come in contact with for work.
  • As the prayers go up, SURELY the blessings will come down.

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