Yesterday I was reading In John 1 and came across this story about Jesus encountering Nathanael that reads, “43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, be my disciple.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. 45 Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from there?” “Just come and see for yourself,” Philip said. 47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Here comes an honest man — a true son of Israel.”
I find this interaction intriguing. Philip meets Jesus and believes that He is the Messiah. He goes to find his friend Nathanael to share the great news and Nathanael does not respond very enthusiastically at first. He initially struggles in seeing Jesus as the Messiah because of the word ‘Nazareth’. To the Jewish people, to be from Nazareth, was to be from the wrong side of the tracks. Yet that is what God does in the incarnation. Perfect and holy God chooses to identify with the least of these. He chooses to feel the sting of being the butt of everyone’s jokes. That is why He is our perfect high priest who knows our pain and struggles.
Even in the midst of Nathanael’s judgment of Jesus, Jesus declares Nathanael an honest man. Nathanael seems to be the guy who just shares what’s really in his heart and doesn’t just tell you what he thinks you want to hear. Nathanael honestly had difficulty with Jesus the first time he met him. But what I love about Nathanael is that he was willing to go and meet Jesus himself before writing Him off completely. Once Nathanael meets Jesus, his life is changed forever. I also love Philip’s role in this story. He was that person who wouldn’t give up on his lost friend and was able to love his friend through his struggles to believe. Eventually he experienced the joy of introducing his friend to Jesus.
Maybe you know a Nathanael today who is searching but struggling with Jesus. Maybe today is a day to pray for them and maybe even reach out to them through a phone call or a get together and lovingly lead them towards a life-changing encounter with Christ.