THE WAY TO THE FATHER
"The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, He said to him, 'Follow me.' Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 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.'
"'Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?' Nathanael asked. 'Come and see,' said Philip." John 1:43-46 (NIV)
John gives us some interesting little exchanges between these would-be disciples and Jesus. The other gospel writers focus mainly on Peter and John, the ones who were always getting into scrapes or had the most to say. Andrew and Philip were the evangelists among them. Their first encounter with Jesus was enough to put them on the right track.
Andrew had already done his little bit by introducing his brother Peter to Jesus. What if he had kept his discovery to himself and left Peter out? Meeting this unique Man was something he couldn't keep secret.
Philip was so convinced that he had come face-to-face with the one who fulfilled Old Testament prophecy that he unashamedly declared his faith to Nathanael. He brushed Nathanael’s skepticism aside by inviting him to come and see for himself. It was no use getting into a theological argument about it. An encounter with Jesus would be enough to convince Nathanael that He was the Messiah they were expecting.
"When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, 'Here is truly an Israelite, in whom there is no deceit,' 'How do you know me?' Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, 'I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.' Then Nathanael declared, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.'" John 1:47-49 (NIV)
Nathanael was blown away when he overheard Jesus' comment about him. 'Now this is a really good guy! He's a true Israelite, not a fraud like some of them.' How did Jesus know that? He'd never met Nathanael, let alone spent enough time with him to watch and listen to him so that He could sum up his character.
'How do you know me?' Nathanael demanded. 'I know you, Nathanael. I knew you long before you came here today.' Is this a subtle hint that Jesus was referring to His pre-incarnate existence with the Father when He knew Nathanael from before the foundation of the world? Where was Jesus when He saw him under the fig tree? Was He actually observing him?
What prompted Him to discern in Nathanael a wholesome sincerity that pleased Him? Nathanael's conclusion was the only one he could come to. This man must be more than a man. There was no other explanation. His spontaneous outburst, 'You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel!' may have been accurate, but he was yet to see and hear much more -- marvellous truths and miracles that would flesh out the conviction that would bind him to Jesus and send him out to tell the world that Jesus is the Son of God.
"Jesus said, 'You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.' Then He 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: 47-51 (NIV)
The purpose of John's gospel was to convince his readers that Jesus is the Son of God. "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life through His name,’ “John 20:31 (NIV). Andrew and Peter, Philip and Nathanael found that out by meeting Jesus and spending time with Him.
The witness of brother and friend was not enough to convince them. When they spent time with Jesus over the next few years, they would see for themselves that it was He who would open the way between the unseen realm of the spirit and the earthly realm in which they lived and functioned. He was the link and the key to restoration of fellowship with the Father and personal access to the heavenly realm which sin had denied them.
There is no one other than Jesus who can take us to the Father.
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