Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.…
I. Nathanael himself. He was —
1. A guileless man, childlike, simple-hearted, transparent, neither credulous nor mistrustful, honestly ready to receive testimony and to be swayed by the force of truth.
2. An earnest seeker. "We have found the Messiah" would be no gladsome news to any one not looking for the Messiah. This is the universal condition of finding.
3. Ignorant up to a certain point. He knew not Christ although so near his home, like so many now so near His gospel. He knew not Christ although he knew his Bible. Again the parallel holds good.
4. Prejudiced. Yet his prejudice was excusable, for it was due to the faulty testimony of Philip. Jesus was neither of Nazareth nor the son of Joseph, which shows us how a blundering and prejudice-raising testimony may notwithstanding be owned of God.
5. A godly man up to the measure of his light — a man of secret prayer.
II. NATHANAEL'S SIGHT OF JESUS.
1. Though prejudiced he was candid enough to investigate Christ's claims. If you are prejudiced give the Gospel a fair hearing.
2. He came to Christ with great activity of heart. As soon as he was told to "Come and see," he came and saw, without waiting, as many do, for Christ to come to him. Indifference and lethargy the crying curse of the present day.
3. He saw Jesus —
(1) Not merely with his bodily eyes, but —
(2) With his mental eyes he formed a just judgment of Christ. He saw one who could read his thoughts and knew his secret actions. So we must see the Divine in Christ to be saved.
III. CHRIST'S SIGHT OF NATHANAEL was not that of an acquaintance or a physiognomist, but of a searcher of hearts. He saw —
1. His guilelessness.
2. What he was doing under the fig-tree known to no one but themselves. What this was we can only surmise. As devout Easterns are accustomed to have a special place of prayer, Nathanael may have been engaged under the fig-tree —
(1) In confession of sin, and Christ brought it to his recollection, which convinced him that He knew the secret burden and the resultant peace.
(2) In heart investigation.
(3) In earnest prayer like Jacob at Peniel.
(4) In making some solemn vow.
(5) In sweet communion with God.
3. And so Christ sees all sincere seekers, their tears, their prayers.
IV. NATHANAEL'S FAITH.
1. Note its grounds. Christ's omniscience, as in the case of the Samaritan woman and Zacchaeus. So some sermons seem made for certain people, although the preacher is ignorant of them. It is Christ's word piercing the hidden depths and revealing secrets.
2. Its clear and comprehensive character. The Son of God to be adored; the King of Israel to be served.
3. Its positiveness. "Thou art."
V. NATHANAEL'S AFTER-SIGHT.
1. He had owned Jesus as the Son of God; he was to see Jesus in His glory as the Son of Man; Christ in His mediatorial capacity as the great link between earth and heaven.
2. The providence of God as ruled by Jesus Christ, who ordereth all things for the good of Hie Church.
3. The second coming of Christ in His glory. These greater things were afterwards. Christians should not clamour to know all about Christianity at first.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.