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Chapter 1:43-51 (ESV)

Posted on July 18, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:43-51 (ESV) - The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. 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.” 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 there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Question to consider: What was Jesus’ historical reference regarding the ascending and descending of the angels of God?

Given that Philip was from Andrew and Peter’s home town, I think Jesus purposefully went to Galilee in search of him after spending the day with John and Andrew. My guess is that John, Andrew, Philip and Nathanael were all active disciples of John the Baptist. Peter might have been loosely associated with the group, but he was married and dedicated to his fishing trade in order to provide for his wife and mother-in-law. The other boys were younger, single and convinced by John the Baptist that Jesus was the Messiah. There were three events in particular that I believe ultimately led to Peter dropping everything and following Jesus:

  1. Jesus spoke boldly in Peter’s synagogue and cast a demon out of someone in the assembly
  2. Jesus went to Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law
  3. Jesus gave Peter the miraculous catch of fish on the shore of the Sea of Galilee

Jesus actually spent most of His ministry in Capernaum, the city in which Peter lived, so Peter was able to serve Jesus and his family.

In yesterday’s study, I mentioned that I believed the apostle John to be a bold personality with a good sense of humor. Evidence of his boldness was in the nickname Jesus gave John and his brother: Boanerges which was Aramaic for “Sons of Thunder”. I believe Jesus started using that nickname after they expressed a desire to call down fire from heaven on the heads of some Samaritans. James and John also had the boldness to ask Jesus to be His top officials in the new kingdom. John’s sense of humor is demonstrated throughout this gospel account in the way he recalled some of the narrative.

A good example was the reaction of Nathanael to Philip’s proclamation that the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets was a man from Nazareth named Jesus. John conveyed Nathanael’s no-nonsense personality through his question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The initial reaction of Jesus to Nathanael confirmed this. In calling him a true Israelite “in whom there is no deceit,” Jesus was saying that someone always knew where he stood with Nathanael.

We aren’t told what Nathanael was doing under the fig tree, but when Jesus called him a true Israelite and referred to Jacob’s dream, we can guess that Nathanael may have been praying for this very moment, the coming of the promised King. Jesus’ response was to speak of Himself as the fulfillment of Jacob’s vision and assure Nathanael that his prayers would be answered. As the embodiment of the ladder in the dream, Jesus hinted at what He would eventually make plain with the statement, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Prayer

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for listening to our prayers and bringing about Your will in a way that considers our ultimate good. Give us a desire to intercede for others in a way that draws them closer to You. Amen.