I Saw You

I Saw You

I saw you

John 1:43-51

Nathanael/Bartholomew

Sunday 26th September 2021

8am and 10am

I am not sure about you but I can definitely own many times when I have questioned things or been a skeptic. 

A lot of highly intelligent and scientific minded people want to know the facts and they make a commitment to the Lord it makes our faith grow. 

A few examples of these are :

Professor John Lennox, the Irish mathematician from Oxford university, who not only is incredibly intelligent but also among the world’s most effective apologists for Christianity.

Francis Collins -Before that he oversaw the Human Genome Project, one of history’s biggest research projects. Collins was an atheist until 1978, when he underwent a conversion experience while hiking in the mountains and became a devout Christian. In his 2006 bestselling book The Language of God, Collins declares that he sees no incompatibility between science and religion. “The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome,” he wrote. “He can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory.” Collins just won the $1.3 million Templeton Prize, created in 1972 to promote reconciliation of science and spirituality.

Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)”I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them. He would not require us to deny sense and reason in physical matters which are set before our eyes and minds by direct experience or necessary demonstrations.”

Maria Mitchell (1818 – 1889)was America’s first female astronomer and the first woman to be named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was born into a Quaker family, but began to question her denomination’s teachings in her twenties. She was eventually disowned from membership and for the rest of her life, didn’t put much importance on church doctrines or attendance. Instead, she was a religious seeker who pursued a simpler sort of faith. 

After hearing a minister preach about the dangers of science, Mitchell wrote: 

“Scientific investigations, pushed on and on, will reveal new ways in which God works, and bring us deeper revelations of the wholly unknown.”

Albert Einstein(1879 – 1955), one of the most well-known physicists of the 20th century, was born into a secular Jewish family. As an adult, he tried to avoid religious labels, rejecting the idea of a “personal God,” but at the same time, separating himself from “fanatical atheists” whom he believed were unable to hear “the music of the spheres.” 

In a 1954 essay for NPR, Einstein wrote:

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the Mysterious — the knowledge of the existence of something unfathomable to us, the manifestation of the most profound reason coupled with the most brilliant beauty. I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, or who has a will of the kind we experience in ourselves. I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with the awareness of — and glimpse into — the marvelous construction of the existing world together with the steadfast determination to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature. This is the basics of cosmic religiosity, and it appears to me that the most important function of art and science is to awaken this feeling among the receptive and keep it alive.”

I could go on and on but I think you have hopefully heard the testimonies of these profound thinkers.

We encounter in our story this morning a profound thinker and disciple of Jesus and his name is Nathanael.

Read John 1:43 -51

John 1 is full of very important theology from the beginning of THE WORD to light in darkness to John 1: 14 – Logos Pathos Ethos Theos to John the Baptist’s testimony, Peter James and John and Andrew and then Philip and Nathanael. You will discover a lot of next day’s vs 29,35,43 and the third day the wedding at Cana.(Nathanael’s hometown !!!)

Background to Nathanael

He was from Cana in Galillee

He is also known as Bartholomew -Jewish given name that derives from the Aramaic name meaning “son of Talmai”. Bar is Aramaic for “son”. Talmai either comes from telem “furrow” or is a Hebrew version of Ptolemy. Bartholomew is either “son of furrows” (i.e., rich in land) or “son of Ptolemy”.

Nathanael has the distinction of being the first recorded person to confess belief in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior. When Nathanael accepted Jesus’ call, he became his disciple. He was a witness to the resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus Christ and became a missionary, spreading the
gospel.

Bible References: Nathanael’s story in the Bible can be found in Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; John 1:45-49, 21:2; and Acts 1:13.

Hometown: Nathanael was from Cana in Galilee.

Father: Tolmai

Occupation: Nathanael’s early life is unknown. Later he became a disciple of Jesus Christ, an evangelist, and missionary.

In Judaism, the mention of the fig tree is a symbol for the study of Law (Torah). In rabbinic literature, the proper place to study the Torah is under a fig tree.

The Calling of Nathanael

1.“We have found the One…”

The Gospel of John describes Nathanael’s call by Philip. The two disciples may have been friends becaue Nathanael was brought by Philip to Jesus:

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)

2. Can anything good come out of Nazareth ?

At first, Nathaneal was skeptical about the idea of a Messiah from Nazareth. He scoffed at Philip, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46). I hear many of us connecting with the skeptic in Nathanael. We also need to understand that he came from Cana and Nazareth did not have a good reputation due to the fact that the Romans occupied this northern territory and Sephoris was close to it.

3. Come and see

But Philip encouraged him, “Come and see.”

Philip uses powerful evangelical methodology by inviting Nathanael to come and see for himself and make up his own mind.

As the two men approached, Jesus called Nathanael a “true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false,” then revealed that he had seen Nathanael sitting under a fig tree before Philip called him.

4. The enormously gracious and powerful way in which Jesus deals with Nathanael’s skeptical heart !!

Jesus saw Nathanael.

When Jesus called Nathanael a true Israelite within whom their is no deceit – truthful and honest – The Good Doctor illustration, the Lord affirmed his character as a godly man, receptive to the Lord’s work.

Jesus’ greeting not only to capture Nathanael’s attention but also, by its penetrating insight, threw him off guard. Nathanael was stunned to learn that the Lord already knew him and that he was aware of his movements.

Jesus affirmed that Nathanael was a man of integrity and openness to the work of God. Calling him a “true Israelite,” Jesus identified Nathanael with Jacob, the father of the Israelite nation. Also, the Lord’s reference to “angels ascending and descending” (John 1:51), strengthened the association with Jacob. Genesis 28:12 – 15

5. The fig tree and the link to being either a scholar or even a rabbi !!

Then Jesus astonished Nathanael, demonstrating supernatural power by referring to Nathanael’s experience under the fig tree.

Jesus’ personal knowledge of Nathanael and the recent event under the fig tree caused Nathanael to respond with an amazing confession of faith.

He could have stayed under the fig tree, but the Lord shifted him and his spitual attitude. Some of us need to get out from under the fig tree. We are still sitting there with our religious skeptic minds and Jesus is calling us deeper to experience Him in a powerful and authentic way.

6. Nathanael recognises Jesus as the Son of God and King of Israel

He is one of the first to do this and it is profound in it’s simplicity and profession of faith – Jesus, the  Son of God, the King of Israel. 

7. Spiritual eyes opened to see so much more.

Finally, Jesus promised Nathanael that he would see a stunning vision of the Son of Man:

He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)

As our spiritual eyes are opened we are able to experience so much more and this is what the Holy Spirit wants to lead us into – Spirit and Truth !!!

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