Nathanael - Bartholomew

The Spiritually Rewarded Sceptic

DATE: 6 Apr, 2003 AM          PLACE: BBC Blarney


I.         Introduction (Matthew 10:2,3)


A.      We are continuing our study through the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ.


1.        Peter – man of Zeal

2.        Andrew the Soul-Winner

3.        James the Hot-headed

4.        John the Beloved

5.        Philip, the Active Apostle

6.        This morning we examine the life of Bartholomew, or Nathanael as he is called in the Gospel of John


B.       We have two names


1.        Bartholomew –son of Tolmai, BAR (son of) THOLOMEW (Tolmai)

2.        Nathanael – Gift from God


C.       According the Jesus, Nathanael was a good guy – and yet was a sceptic. How can that be? Aren’t we all supposed to just believe the Bible without question? No way! I believe the Bible because I tested it. I totally trust Jesus Christ because I proved His promises to be true!

D.      This morning, we all need a revival of Biblical scepticism!


II.       Message – Nathanael, the Spiritual Sceptic


A.      Nathanael’s Friend – Philip (Jn 1:38-45a)


1.        Out of the crowd, Jesus approached John the Baptist, and was baptized – all the while, John the Baptist kept proclaiming, Jesus is the Lamb of God

2.        Jesus has just started His ministry that would last the next 3 ½ years, culminating with the crucifixion

3.        Jesus speaks to Andrew, and calls him to leave everything, and follow Him

4.        Andrew quickly goes and gets his brother Peter, who also drops everything, and begins to earnestly follow the life of this Man from Galilee

5.        But it doesn’t stop there

6.        Jesus goes out of His way on the road back home to Galilee, to find Philip!

7.        Then Philip did just as Andrew did – went and tried to get somebody else to meet Jesus!

8.        Thank God Nathanael had a friend who was a Christian!


B.       Nathanael’s Conflict (Jn 1:45)


1.        The Promise of the Messiah


a.       Philip presents the facts

b.       Moses wrote about a coming Messiah


1)       Dt 18:15

2)       Gen 3:15


a)       A deliverer from the curse on this life, including death

b)       A conqueror of the devil


c.       Isaiah prophesied the same thing (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6,7)

d.       Over 300 prophecies made by God promising to come as the Messiah

e.       Daniel prophesied the same (Dan 9:24-26)

f.        Everyone KNEW these prophecies like the back of their hands

g.       It was the hope of Israel

h.       Now the Messiah was here, and He had a NAME


1)       Jesus

2)       And He is from Nazarerth

3)       He is a Man, the son of Joseph – nobody had surnames yet – their second name was their father’s first name


2.        The Exploitation of People’s Expectation


a.       Lots of religious leaders used the expectation of the people to their own advantage (Acts 5:34-37)

b.       Brought a lot of doubt, and destroyed a lot of people’s faith in the promises of God – same has happened today (Mt 24:24)!

c.       Most people turned to mocking, and scoffing at God’s word

d.       Some became sceptical whenever they heard of “miracles” and messianic events


3.        The Result is Scepticism


a.       Scepticism is the same as


1)       Caution

2)       Carefulness

3)       Studious

4)       Prudent


b.       Not all necessarily bad – you need to be sceptical about:


1)       Foods you eat nowadays (remember PCP, and DDT, etc?)

2)       Doctors and medicines (EX: Nita’s Chemist giving him the wrong medication that was just one letter different)

3)       Priests

4)       Religions

5)       Supposed Miracle cures

6)       Government leaders and promises!!!


c.       Most people today fall into one of two categories


1)       Scoffers – don’t believe in the Bible anymore at all

2)       Sceptics – never have been convinced, only disappointed


C.       Nathanael’s Doubts (Jn 1:46)


1.        Nathanael analyses what Philip just said – didn’t just believe everything that people said - The same ought to be true with reading the newspapers, and watching the TV, etc!

2.        Nathanael knew all about Nazareth – he was from Cana, right next to it!

3.        It was not a godly place to come from

4.        It shouldn’t be the place where THE Messiah would grow up

5.        He never knew of ANYTHING good coming out of that place

6.        Called, being pragmatic – not into this “blind faith” thing

7.        Just the fact that someone says that the Messiah is here, doesn’t impress Nathanael


D.      Nathanael’s Challenge (Jn 1:46b) “Come and See”


1.        The JOB of the Christian is to react like Philip did


a.       Philip could have given up on Nathanael

b.       Or gotten frustrated

c.       But instead, he did what every soul-winner needs to do


2.        Challenged him! We Christians have to start challenging this world system with something worth looking into


a.       Come and check Jesus out – not Jesus Superstar, but of the Bible

b.       Not my church, or my bank account

c.       JESUS is the Person that needs to be lifted up for all to see and examine (Jn 12:32)


3.        God is completely open for examination


a.       John 5:39

b.       Mal 3:10

c.       Pr 30:4

d.       Isa 1:18; 41:21

e.       1Sam 12:6,7  - Samuel preparing them for the day of his death

f.        Acts 17:2; 18:4; 24:25

g.       That’s why Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified so publicly, and humiliatingly – so that people like the Centurion could see, and conclude, “Truly this was the Son of God!”


4.        Every Christian’s life also needs to be open for examination


a.       Is it different? If not, you are NOT a Christian

b.       Is it any better than it was? If not, then you are NOT a Christian – you are a tare

c.       Is it hungry and thirsty for righteousness? If not, then you are NOT a Christian

d.       THAT’S why the world ignores us – we offer them NOTHING to examine – they only see the same old same old


1)       No greater courage like to stand in the coliseum

2)       No greater faith to trust God IN and THRU the storms

3)       No godliness in our conversation or our lifestyles!


5.        And, every Christian needs to be careful when presented with apparitions, and supposed miracle cures, and “new” bibles, and new methods for “reaching the world” and shallow conversions, and all the emphasis on “peace” and “love” and so-called “revivals” that leave all the pubs in place, and homes still wrecked, and holiness still foreign! AMEN!


E.       Nathanael’s Conversion (Jn 1:47-51)


1.        Jesus speaks first


a.       Jesus saw in Nathanael what a true Israelite was

1)       A careful sceptic, who, when presented with the truth, would follow to the ends of the earth!

2)       THAT is an Israelite indeed, and that’s what WE are all to be


b.       No Guile means Nathanael had no hidden agenda, or ulterior motive in checking out Jesus – no guile, meant, no lie, no tricks up his sleeve


2.        Nathanael is surprised – how does this Man already know me?

3.        Jesus simply mentions one thing – that He saw Nathanael under the fig tree


a.       Jesus must have seen him in he saw him in a supernatural way.

b.       People would spend time meditating on Scriptures in the mornings and evenings, under some sort of shade – devotions

c.       Evidently, Nathanael had way earlier in the morning been sitting under a regular spot, under the fig tree

d.       In secret communion with God, though unseen by men, we are never unobserved by Jesus Christ. He witnesses all our feelings, and is acquainted with our whole character.


4.        THAT one revelation was enough to convince Nathanael that this Man standing in front of him, even though He was from Nazareth, was indeed the Messiah, the promised Son of God, and the King of all Israel!

5.        Jesus was pleased that that was all it took to convince Nathanael – and that because he was careful, and prudent in paying attention to detail, Jesus promises that Nathanael would see greater things than this


a.       Lazarus raised from the dead

b.       Blind eyes opened

c.       Deaf ears unstopped

d.       The empty tomb

e.       Jesus ascending to heaven


6.        Folks, if you have gotten born again, and have a desire to know the truth, and are careful about what you believe, then it is just going to get better, and better, and better, and better! AMEN!

7.        One of these days we will hear a Trumpet, and see heaven open, and Jesus come and get us! The Rapture! AMEN!


III.     Conclusion


A.      Nathanael’s Friend – Philip (Jn 1:38-45a) Thank God for Christian friends

B.       Nathanael’s Conflict (Jn 1:45)


1.        The Promise of the Messiah has been fulfilled – Jesus has really come

2.        But 2,000 years later, the conflict rages – was he REALLY the Son of God, and CAN He really save sinners?

3.        The Exploitation of People’s Expectation still goes on – drugs, rock music, false religions and religious leaders, and even science falsely so-called

a.       Not all necessarily bad – you need to be sceptical about things

b.       Most people today fall into one of two categories


1)       Scoffers – don’t believe in the Bible anymore at all

2)       Sceptics – never have been convinced, only disappointed


C.       Nathanael’s Doubts (Jn 1:46) – Do you have any doubts?

D.      Nathanael’s Challenge (Jn 1:46b) “Come and See”


1.        The JOB of the Christian is to react like Philip did - Challenged people! Check Jesus out – the Jesus of the Bible

2.        And, have a life that you won’t be ashamed of people examining to see if Jesus is in there somewhere!


E.       Nathanael’s Conversion (Jn 1:47-51) – Changed, and committed!

Craig Ledbetter