Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.…
I. THE PREPARATION. A soul brought to Christ by a brother. Two men, friends before, had their friendship riveted and made more close by this sacredest of all bonds, that the one had been to the other the means of bringing him to Jesus Christ. Note
1. The hesitation of Nathanael, His prejudice was —
(1) Harmless, and soon melted when Christ beamed upon him.
(2) Natural. We all know the jealousies of neighbouring villages. But this prejudice brings into relief what a real obstacle to His Messianic recognition our Lord's lowly origin was. We have got over it. But Judaea was then ruled by the most heartless of aristocracies, that of cultured pedants.Why did Christ come from "the men of the earth" as the rabbis called outsiders?
(1) In accordance with the general law that reformers always come from outside these classes; and in politics, literature, science, as well as religion, not many wise and mighty are called.
(2) Because He was the poor man's Christ, and because His word was not for any class.
2. Philip's invitation.
(1) He did not argue.
(2) "Come and see" carries in it the essence of Christian apologetics. The wisest thing is to push Christ forward and let people look at Him and let Him make His own impression. And, on the other side, you have not done fairly by Christianity until you have complied with this invitation.
II. The second stage: THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN CHRIST AND NATHANAEL, when we see a soul fastened to Christ by Himself. Christ manifests His Messiahship by a supernatural knowledge of him.
1. Before he had come, before Christ could read him, or learn anything about him — while he was coming, Jesus said, "Behold an Israelite," etc. The reference here and in ver. 51 is to Jacob. At Jabbok the crafty Jacob became Israel. So Nathanael was One of God's princes who had wrestled with Him in prayer. How was the guile drawn out of him? See Psalm 32:2. Nathanael's astonishment. Under the fig-tree he must have wrestled in prayer, confessed his sins, longing and looking for the deliverer. Yet so solitary was it, that Christ's knowledge of it led to the glad confession, "Thou art the Son of God." Nathanael was right. So was the woman of Samaria when she drew the same conclusion from the same premises.
3. This was the first miracle that Christ wrought. His supernatural knowledge is as much a mark of His Divinity as any other of His earthly manifestations.
(1) This omniscience shows us how glad Christ is when He sees anything good in us. Not a word about Nathanael's prejudice, but cordial praise that he was an honest, a sincere man, following after God and truth.
(2) This omniscience is cognizant of all our inward crises and struggles. We can all look back to some place or other, under some hawthorn hedge, or boulder by the seashore, or back parlour, or crowded street where some never-to-be-forgotten epoch in our soul's history passed unseen by all. Let us rejoice to feel that Christ sees all these moments.
III. THE RAPTUROUS CONFESSION which crowns the whole.
1. Where did Nathanael learn these great names? Prom the Baptist's proclamation of the Son of God and the kingdom of heaven.
2. The enthusiasm of this confession. It is no mere intellectual acknowledgment, but warm loyalty and absolute submission. So the great question for us is not, Do I believe, as a piece of my intellectual creed that Christ is the Messiah? etc. That will save no man. What we want is the element of rapturous.acknowledgment, loyal submission, absolute obedience, unfaltering trust.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.