“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46)
Nathaniel was a skeptic. Philip went looking for Nathaniel 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!” Nathaniel scoffed. “Can anything good come from there?” The Jewish people despised Nazareth because a Roman army garrison was stationed there, making the entire location unclean in their minds.
Philip’s reply is instructive for all of us when we encounter a skeptic. He simply told Nathaniel, “Come and see!” We were all like Nathaniel before Jesus showed up. We were skeptics until someone invited us to “Come and see” the One the prophets wrote about.
It is greatly encouraging to see that Jesus did not rebuke Nathaniel for his unbelief.
When Jesus saw Nathaniel approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” (John 1:47)
Jesus knew Nathaniel was a skeptic, but He refused to see Nathaniel as he currently was. Rather, Jesus saw him for what He had determined to make him. This is the way Jesus sees all of us who were once blind but now see the Truth. Jesus always sees us for what we will become as believers in Him. This is how He sees the skeptic. The key for us to understand in our encounters with skeptics is that Jesus is seeking them — He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) — and it is our job to invite the skeptic to come with us and see Jesus. We bring skeptics to Jesus with our words and with our works . . . in our declaration and our demonstration of the truths of the Gospel.
Think about it this way: How much do you know about the disciple Philip? Not much. Scripture does not tell us a great deal about him. But he is known for being the one who brought Nathaniel to Jesus. A few years later, God used Philip to open the Scriptures for the Ethiopian eunuch, who went on his way rejoicing after seeing Christ in the inspired writings of Isaiah (Acts 8:26-39).
If we are going to be known for anything, let it be for bringing others to Jesus. Because skeptics are sought by our Savior, we also must seek them out and invite them to meet Jesus. It is true that the deepest need of every human heart is forgiveness, but the deepest desire is to experience a love that will last. Make it your passion to show the lost the Savior’s love in word and deed, and God will supply the increase.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!