(The Fisherman's House in Bethsaida- now in ruins)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.
12/30- John 1:43-51
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 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." 46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit." 48 "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." 49 Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel." 50 Jesus said, "You believe [a] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that." 51 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.
43 “Follow me”- Philip was inflamed by this single word to follow Christ- showing how effective the word of God is. But this call is not universally answered, for God addresses many who do not respond. So external preaching in itself is unfruitful except for rendering the reprobate without excuse. We need to pray that God’s power will be effective for us as well. 33 “Bethsaida”- God was good to the city choosing three out of it. Later Christ curses the city (Mt. 11:21; Lk. 10:13). When God brings some out of a nation of ungodly and wicked people, we ought to view it as if they were brought from the lowest hell. 45 “Philip found Nathanael”- These are the small beginnings of the Church. Philip had the same desire to reach others that Andrew had. His modesty should be noted too- he seeks nothing else than to have others learn along with him. “We have found…Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph”- Here Philip declares he has faith, but he has two inaccuracies: he says he is from Nazareth and is from Joseph. But he was still able to point Nathanael to Jesus of Bethlehem. We should learn that some of the least educated among us are more effective than the greatest theologians who hold the truth in a haughty way. So if any share Christ ignorantly we ought to not disdain them- provided they direct us to Christ. 46- “Can anything good come out of Nazareth”- Nathanael almost loses his opportunity for faith because of his pride and prejudice. Instead he responds to Philip who said, “Come and see” and so he came to see he was the King of Israel. Jesus said that he would see “angels ascending and descending on the Son of God.” We should not focus on how or when this happened to Nathanael but the meaning behind this- which seems to infer that the angels ascend and descend on Christ’s body, the Church, and that heaven is not opened to us (Gen. 28:12), so that we are fellow-citizens and companions to angels (Eph. 2:19), and that they, as guardians of our salvation, descend from the blessed rest of heaven to ease our distress.
Thoughts: We should not limit what God can do through someone from a certain place. In the south, the first question we often ask is, “Where are you from?” Jesus came from the middle of nowhere. Yet certainly he knew Hebrew and the scripture and the leaders of the Church were astounded at his learning at twelve. This story is a check on presuming and prejudice. Some would say that Jesus was from Bethlehem not Nazareth. But years before people said the same thing about David- that he was just a young shepherd boy and not from the big city. The challenge to Nathanael is our challenge too- to open our minds enough to come and see, and let God’s Spirit move us.
Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to not presume against you, or to cherish prejudice in my heart towards others.