The disciple I am studying today is named Nathanael, also known as Bartholomew. He experienced an interesting first encounter with Jesus. When another disciple, Philip, asked him to come and meet Jesus, Nathanael was skeptical, but he followed along anyway. As Philip introduced him to Jesus, the Lord declared, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” Immediately Nathanael wanted to know, “How do you know me?” Jesus responded, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Shocked and surprised Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” This is when he made the decision to become a loyal follower of Christ. He put aside his prejudice against Nazarenes and declared Jesus as Lord! Read the whole story here:
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 truly is 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.”Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that. ”He then 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 1:43-51
WOW! What a great introduction! Nathanael wasn’t just skeptical at first. He was also prejudice. Yet Jesus saw Him under a tree so far away that it was impossible for any normal human eyes to see. Plus, Jesus declared that Nathanael had no deceit in him. ‘Lord, find no deceit in me! You’ve washed me clean!’
Something else that stands out in this encounter is Jesus’ words about the angels of God. He must of known Nathanael would remain a faithful follower in order to predict the experience of seeing angels. When Jesus calls you, it’s a big deal. I want him to find me faithful and without deceit and declare to me that greater things will I see. But wait… He does find me faithful! He has removed all deceit through His own righteousness in me! And He has promised I would see greater things! Look it up if you don’t believe me.
There’s not much else in the Bible about Nathanael, also known as Bartholomew, except that he witnessed the resurrected Jesus on the Sea of Galilee and also the Ascension of Jesus after His resurrection. We know only one disciple betrayed Jesus and left Him, and that was not Nathanael. He served the Lord and preached the Gospel for many years until he was martyred for his ministry. He had been witnessing to the king of Armenia according to history and the king declared Jesus as Lord. This outraged the king’s brother who either beheaded Nathanael or flayed and crucified him upside down.
I hope I won’t care if people write much about me when I’m gone. I pray that I care more about what I do with my life now as ministry to others and that I also preach the Gospel of Jesus, the only way of salvation.