Nathanael: He Could Have Been A Disciple


The story of Nathanael went this way:

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. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” “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.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig-tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:43-51

When Philip was called by Jesus to follow Him, he immediately left what he was doing and did follow Jesus. He also shared this experience to his friend Nathanael. However, Nathanael’s initial reaction to the invitation to follow Jesus was skeptical. He was anxious to know that the Messiah came from a place called Nazareth, known for its bad reputation. Philip had to coax him once more to “come and see”. He could have been one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, but he did not become one.

We often hear the statement “To see is to believe.” Nathanael operated in that belief. He only believed that Jesus is the Messiah when Jesus Himself told him that He saw him while he was still under a fig tree far away. Nathanael saw that this was impossible for an ordinary person to do, thus, he believed that Jesus is the Son of God. Sadly, Jesus rebuked him and told him the true condition of his faith.

Following Jesus takes a faith beyond what we can see. In fact, being a Christian takes believing first before seeing. Abraham obeyed God when he was told to leave his country and his relatives and go to a land promised by God, a land so far which he did not even heard of. Esther decided to step out in faith and face King Xerxes unsummoned even if it cost her life; she did this to save her people, the whole nation of Jews. Daniel did not stop praying to the True God albeit the punishment is to be thrown into the lion’s den. Abraham received his promised land and God made his descendants a nation. Esther saved her people from total annihilation. Daniel’s life was spared when the angels of God shut the mouth of the lions.

When the Lord tells us to do something, usually He doesn’t give us all the details we need. Instead He provides us with only the first step. He wants us to learn to let go of the common attitude of being “segurista”. As soon as we take the first step in the journey, He will show us the next, and so on, until we have fully obeyed. It takes one step at a time.

So, let us not wonder why we do not have all the answers. This life is supposed to be an exciting one, when we learn to trust God and His words to take us step by step to His will for us.

Father, You hold all the answers in life. I will continue to trust You. Help me to bear in my heart the knowledge that You always want the best for me and that all things are possible with You. I will not be anxious even when I do not see. Amen.

 

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