JESUS: COME AND SEE
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 1:45a APhilip findeth . . .@
The found became a finder. AOne lighted torch serves to light another@ (Godet). Christianity has been defined as one beggar telling another where to find bread.
John 1:45b A. . . Nathanael . . .@
This is probably the same person as Bartholomew. Nathanael would be the first name; Bartholomew, son of Tolmai, the last name.
In lists of the Apostles (Matthew 10:3; Luke 6:14; Mark 3:18), Philip and Nathanael (Bartholomew) are always mentioned together, as if the two were riveted not only to Christ by this experience, but also to each other. Bringing a person to Jesus results in a deep bond of friendship. Nothing endears us to another more than their knowing we brought them their first knowledge of the Savior.
I had the privilege of leading Orie Fritts to the Lord. Orie once stood close to me and said, AI like standing near the man who led me to Jesus.@
John 1:45c A . . . 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.@
AWe@ shows Philip was already identifying himself with the little group around Jesus. It doesn=t take long to fall in love with Jesus, and with His people.
From Philip=s blunt report, we assume Philip and Nathanael had previously conversed about the Coming One. Everyone in Palestine was concerned with the issue. Messianic expectation had reached a feverish pitch. Edersheim says the Rabbis interpreted no less than 456 Old Testament passages messianically.
While the rest of Israel continued to search, Philip=s quest was over. He had found Messiah. Nothing else mattered. Be ever thankful if your spiritual search resulted in your finding Jesus. Many are tormented at this point in life..
John 1:46 AAnd Nathanael said unto him, can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?@
There are five possible reasons for this outburst of prejudice. First, Nathanael was from Cana in Galilee (John 21:2), located eight miles north of Nazareth. There may have been a rivalry between these two closely-located towns. Neighboring villages are often known for their bitter feuds and jealousies.
Second, Nazareth was located in Galilee, which was famous for its spirit of sedition and rebellion. The area was constantly producing hot-headed fanatics and fake messiahs. Nathanael may have feared another false alarm.
Third, the more polished Judeans, who held religious sway in their day, looked on Galileans with disdain. Judeans, who often had trouble understanding the rough dialect of Galileans, mocked the latter=s pronunciation of words and accused them of being rude, illiterate, and devoid of culture.
Fourth, the Orthodox also viewed Galileans as loose backsliders who were liberal on points of doctrine. Nathanael would be convinced that anyone claiming to be Messiah would have to win over to his cause these religious leaders in order to succeed. Such a task would be impossible for a Galilean.
Fifth, Nazareth is never mentioned in the Old Testament. No Bible scholar believed a prophet would rise out of Galilee (John 7:52). Everyone was looking to Judah=s territory for deliverance.
Nathanael=s skepticism made him speak instinctively. His rashness resulted in the first slur against Jesus recorded in this Gospel. Jesus would hear many more; He has a devil, He perverts the nation, He is a friend of sinners. People slurred Jesus because He did not fit their mold.
The world met its match in Jesus. He could not be shaken. They foamed, fumed, threatened, flattered, and cursed, but Jesus could not be moved. He could be neither bought nor frightened away from His calling. When all else failed, they crucified Jesus, buried Him, and brushed off their hands.
But early on Sunday morning the fist of God rammed through the sepulcher, shook Earth, and brought back from the dead this Man who loved the applause of God more than He feared the slurs of people.
Nathanael=s was the first slur. Many more followed. Fortunately, Nathanael quickly changed his mind once he met Jesus face to face.
John 1:46 APhilip saith unto him, come and see.@
Nathanael=s challenge put Philip in a quandary. He heard his beloved Master slurred. What will he do? He could dive into a deep philosophical argument, sull up, spit on the ground, or walk off. He could kick some dirt on Nathanael, kick his shins, or roll up his sleeves and go at it.
No, Philip had more faith in God than this. Philip may not have been a particularly resourceful man. He certainly did not attempt to convince his friend by arguments. Philip=s goal was to win a convert, not an argument.
Philip hasn=t known Jesus long, but long enough. He knows if Nathanael will come and see Jesus, there will be no need for arguments.
What a challenge is, ACome and see.@ It denoted something the two would do together. Philip did not say, AGo and see.@ He will instead personally see to it that Nathanael has a good look at the Savior.
Unbelievers often hide behind their prejudices: church people hurt me, I knew a preacher who fell into sin, church members are hypocrites, you=re interested only in numbers, you want my money, church services are dull.
C.S. Lewis said people would always be able to find arguments against Christianity. He confessed, AI well remember how eagerly I looked for such arguments when I began to be afraid it was true.@
Lewis especially took issue with those who used hypocrites as an excuse to repel Christianity. AWhat can you ever really know of other people=s souls B of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbors.@
Prechristians sometimes build walls of prejudice to hide behind. There=s no need for believers to jump behind the wall with them and argue. Instead, challenge them to come and see. ANathanael, put your money where your prejudice is.@ Many are afraid to come because they might like what they see.
Don=t argue with unbelievers. Simply tell them to come and see Jesus. That boozer and womanizer at work ought to be in church with us now, as should those we know who are gamblers, thieves, drug addicts, etc. Why aren=t they here? We have not issued the Acome and see@ challenge.
Our churches are to be not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners. Pharisees saw Jesus as a friend of sinners, but now sinners see Jesus as the friend of Pharisees. This is the worst slur anyone could put on Jesus. Let=s tell prechristians to come and see Jesus. He is our best argument.
Lord Peterborough, a deist, once visited Archbishop Fenelon. The dear saint would not argue, but lived a loving, good life. The deist finally exclaimed, AIf I stay here much longer I shall become a Christian in spite of myself.@
Huxley, a famous agnostic, was impressed by a man who displayed a simple, radiant Christian faith. Huxley requested, ATell me what your Christian faith means to you and why you are a Christian.@ The man replied, AYou could demolish my arguments. I=m not clever enough to argue with you.@ Huxley said, AI don=t want to argue. Just tell me simply what Christ means to you.@ The man stated how precious was his faith and trust in Jesus. With tears in his eyes, the famous agnostic said, AI would give my right hand if only I could believe that.@
Clever words did not touch Huxley=s heart. He could have devastated any argument. The simple presentation of Jesus caught his heart.
Lost friend, you may have looked everywhere for contentment, peace of mind, satisfaction. Let me offer you one more alternative. Come and see Jesus, your friend.