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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE CALL OF PHILIP AND NATHANAEL

John 1:43-45 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 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.

The day following, that is, the day after He had selected Andrew, Simon Peter, and probably John, and had asked them to follow Him, Jesus went forth into Galilee. He began His earthly ministry by coming from Nazareth of Galilee, to be baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, which is in Judea. Then following the recruitment of His first three disciples, He left Judea and came once again into Galilee. There He findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me. Although they were first called to be disciples by hearing and believing Jesus to be the Savior, they were later called by Him to be among His twelve apostles (See Matt. 4:18). To distinguish between the two, a disciple of Christ was one that studied under Him, a "learner" that accepted His teaching, and a "follower" that became His devoted servant. Although the twelve apostles were first His disciples, Jesus had many disciples other than these twelve. The meaning of an "apostle" is different from a disciple. "Apostles" were, and continued to be, His disciples, but Christ Jesus also designated them to be His special "messengers" to whom He delegated, through the Holy Spirit of God, certain powers, duties, and authority, in order to establish His church and usher in God's plan of eternal salvation through His Son, Jesus.

Philip's home was in Bethsaida, of Galilee, which was the same city of Andrew and Peter. Being asked by Jesus to follow me, Philip did so immediately, because he recognized and accepted Him as the promised Son of God. Having done so, 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. John 21:2 tells us that Nathanael was a native of Cana of Galilee. He was also known as Bartholomew (See Matt. 10:3), and was evidently a close friend, or possibly a relative, of Philip. One can only imagine the excitement Philip displayed when he told Nathanael about finding the Savior that filled the numerous prophecies found in the Old Testament inspirational writings of Moses ...and the prophets. Upon hearing this from Philip, Nathanael questioned that Jesus was the promised Messiah, by asking, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth (Vs. 46)? It is evident that Nazareth had a bad reputation, an insignificant city of Galilee, which was apparently despised by many Jews. There was probably nothing Philip could say to convince Nathanael that Jesus was the Son of God. Giving the best possible answer to his skepticism, Philip told Nathanael, Come and see (Vs. 46), that is, come see for yourself. Similarly, the best thing a Christian can say when telling others of Christ is, "don't accept what I may say on this matter, but, together, let us searchGod's Word, the Bible."

Now look what happens when Nathanael meets Jesus face to face. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile (Vs. 47)! To recognize Nathanael, as an Israelite, was a compliment, however the compliment went further when Jesus said that within his manner of life there was no guile, or no deceitfulness. Jesus recognized Nathanael as an upright man in a very corrupt nation. Nathanael then asked Jesus, 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 (Vs. 48). No doubt, this incident had occurred recently, and Nathanael was amazed that Jesus knew of it, since they had never met before. Startled by this, and realizing the all-knowing power of Jesus, the unbelief of Nathanael completely disappeared and was replaced with a believing confidence that this man, Jesus, was the promised Messiah. With that, Nathanael confessed unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel (Vs. 49), that is, the promised descendent of David. Jesus answered, if you believe in Me just because I knew of you before we met, thou shalt see greater things than these. 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 (Vss. 50-51). Not only did Nathanael, Philip, and all the other apostles live to see it take place, but we can experience it today. Jesus is our Redeemer; He is the pathway between heaven and earth that reconciled mankind with God, and provided the hope of eternal salvation.