Pay Much Closer Attention

Jesus: King of Israel, Son of Man, John 1:43-51

23 May 2010, AM
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
Pastor Kevin A. Pierpont


Download MP3

John 1:43-51

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Who is Jesus? As we’ve been studying here in John 1 we’ve been seeing the answer to that question. Everything we see here points to the deity of Christ. As we’ve been studying here through chapter 1 we’ve been seeing several different names for Jesus that help us understand who He is.

1) First we saw that Jesus is the Word. As such Jesus reveals the heart and mind of God. 2) Then we saw that Jesus is the Light. Light reveals truth and light means life. 3) Then we saw the Jesus is the Son of God. And God the Son reveals God the Father. 4) Then we noted that Jesus is the Christ, which means He is the Messiah, THE anointed one. 5) We’ve also seen that Jesus is the Lamb of God. He’s the once for all sacrifice for sin to all who believe. And today we come to the last two names we’re looking at here that help us see Jesus for who He is. 6) The sixth name is seen in verse 49, King of Israel 7) and the seventh name is seen in verse 51, Son of Man. And again these names for Christ are all helping us see and understand who Jesus is. We’ll get to how these last two names help us see who Christ is in the course of our time together today.

Now, in the account we saw the last time together here in John, two Sundays ago, we saw that Jesus did not take the initiative in calling the two disciples of John the Baptist to follow him. And note that when we call them disciples of John we mean that they followed his teaching. So they had followed John’s teaching and the natural outcome of that teaching was that when Jesus was introduced to them they followed Him. Then in Simon Peter’s case he was brought to Jesus by Andrew.

We see something different in the passage before us this morning. In the setting that develops beginning in verse 43 Jesus is taking the initiative. It says that, the next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee.

And whom does Jesus go looking for? He goes to Philip.

Now everything we know about Philip points to him being simply an ordinary individual. And obvious in the text is that Philip wasn’t seeking Jesus. But Jesus was seeking Philip. Be encouraged by this, that Jesus seeks out ordinary individuals like Philip (and like you and me). God has use for what we might call, ordinary people. The Bible is full of examples of ordinary people whom God chose to use to do His work and bring Him glory. And God chose you before you were ever thinking of Him.

Now, what does Jesus call Philip to do? It says here that Jesus said, “Follow me.” Let’s understand here that what Jesus is saying isn’t simply, “walk this way”. He’s saying “be my disciple”, that’s what the meaning of the original language points to. And that’s not uncommon in the New Testament. When we see in our Bibles Jesus saying “follow me”, he’s saying, “follow me for the purpose of being my disciple.”

We’re going to see three important truths about Jesus in the text. Here’s the first:

Jesus: the one with authority

Now, who is Jesus to say, “you come follow me and be my disciple”? Who is he? He’s no ordinary man. Jesus is the God-man. Jesus is the one with authority.

We would have very good reason to consider someone to be arrogant who approached us and said, “you follow me and be my disciple.” But it’s certainly not arrogant for Jesus to say this because He has the authority to do so. Let’s note that because this is important for us to understand if we’re going to see Jesus for who He is and believe in Him. Jesus is the one with authority. Let’s keep that in mind. We’ll come back to that thought.

Look at what happens next.

44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Did you notice what just happened? One disciple finds another. Jesus find Philip and Philip proceeds to tell Nathanael that they’ve found who? “him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph”. That’s another way of saying, “We’ve found the Messiah”, which is what Andrew had said of Jesus when he took Simon Peter to Him.

Notice another thing Philip is saying in verse 44. He’s pointing back to the Old Testament prophets. And in this we see once again as John writes this Gospel that he’s pointing to who Jesus is. Jesus is the Messiah. He’s God’s anointed one. He is God come to man. Remember that John’s purpose in writing this Gospel as he states in chapter 20 verse 31 is that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John is still on message.

Then in verse 46 we see Nathanael is surprised that Philip is calling this man the Messiah.

46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”…

It’s likely that Nathanael’s response was due in part to the fact that Nazareth was a town that was little known. It was a place of little significance as far as Nathanael was concerned. Add to this that Nathanael was from Cana and he may have been showing a little bit of the rivalry that likely existed between these two towns.

Note Philip’s response. Did he try to argue with Nathanael? No.

46b …Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Philip essentially says, “if you can’t believe me, just come and see for yourself.”

And this is often still the best answer there is to someone who questions who Jesus is. Have you ever met a professional arguer? They just love to debate and question and argue. Do you realize that you don’t have to be a great Bible scholar who can debate every detail of doctrine to take someone to Jesus? Sometimes the best answer to a skeptic or to one who seems to have endless questions or reservations is simply, “why not come and see for yourself?” How do you do that? Invite them to join you for a study of God’s Word that will help them see for themselves who Jesus is. We have access to several good resources that will help you begin a study with a friend who’s questioning who Jesus is. You can also invite then to join you for Sunday services as we study the Word together as God’s Word is preached. Take them to Jesus — say to them as Philip did, “come and see.”

Jesus: the one who knows you

Look at how Jesus addresses Nathanael.

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

There’s another pointer here to the deity of Christ, because when Jesus Christ looks at you he sees more than anyone else can see — he sees who you are. Jesus gives this knowing, omniscient declaration that Nathanael is a man who is without deceit, a man who is free of cunning craftiness. Who else could look at an individual he’d never met and say such a thing. This is much like when Jesus looked at Simon and saw what He would make of him declaring that he would be called, or he would become, Peter, Rock. Jesus now looks at Nathanael and shows him that He knows who he is.

You see, Jesus isn’t only the one with authority, He’s also the one who knows you. He knows who you are. And let’s clarify here that Jesus didn’t call Nathanael to be His disciple because he knew he was an upright man. God choses no one to be His child because He knows he or she will “turn out” to be a good person.

The Bible makes it clear that God chooses a people for His own and they come to Christ on no merit of their own. For example, in John 15:16 Jesus says to His followers, You did not choose me, but I chose you… And in Romans 3:23, 24 it says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

God’s Word repeatedly makes this clear that God choses a people for his own and saves them by no merit or good of their own. Yes, Jesus’ statement about Nathanael is fairly remarkable because this is rare that a person be found without deceit. But He’s not suggesting that this is a perfect man, he’s still a sinner. Nathanael is unusually upright, but he still needs Christ and the forgiveness of sins that all sinners receive who trust in Him. Jesus just made it clear, “I know who you are, I know what you are.”

Now look at the exchange in verse 48.

48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”…

Nathanael is surprised that Jesus could know him. They had never met. How could this man know who he is? Jesus could know him because He is no mere man. Jesus is God’s revelation of Himself to man and all mankind are known by Jesus because He is fully God. Look at it here in verse 48.

48b …Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

What is this time Jesus points to when Nathanael was under the fig tree? Some believe that this is in reference to a place where Nathanael went to study the Old Testament scriptures. The point is that Jesus supernaturally saw him and having never met Jesus this got Nathanael’s attention. To say the least.

That ought to get your attention too. Christ sees you and knows you, even though you may give Him no thought. He not only knows where you are, He knows what you are, He knows your heart.

In verse 49 it’s obvious that this became clear to Nathanael because of the way he responds to Jesus.

49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

This is the second time in chapter one that we’ve seen the use of the name Son of God; we saw it back in verse 34. Here, Nathanael recognizes who Jesus is because of the knowledge Jesus had of him. Remember, the name Son of God, points to the truth that Jesus is the Messiah. The Messiah had been predicted in the Old Testament. Then he adds, You are the King of Israel. This is the sixth name for Christ we’re looking at here in chapter 1. And this name for Christ also points back to Old Testament prophesy of the coming Messiah.

Now, at this early contact with Christ Nathanael certainly didn’t have a full understanding of all the details of Christ’s sonship. But with all that Christ obviously knew about him, Nathanael confidently verbalizes his understanding that this has to be the Son of God, this is the long awaited Messiah.

Notice here too that Nathanael is verbalizing his recognition of Jesus authority over him and his submission to Christ when he says, You are the King of Israel.

This is what happens when you fully understand that Jesus knows you and you believe in Him and you place your trust in Him. The natural response of one who believes is to submit to Christ as King of your life and then verbalize your heart felt belief in Him. That’s the truth Romans 10:10 points to when it says that, with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Which is to say that if you have a deep, heart felt belief in Jesus Christ you will make a natural expression of that belief with your mouth. And your verbal expression of faith in Christ is an affirmation to you and to others that you truly believe in Christ and recognize His authority over your life.

You need to see Jesus as your King. He may have come in lowly circumstances. He may have been cruelly crucified for your sins but that in no way diminishes His divine royalty. And when you see Jesus for who He is you too will recognize Him as your King.

Look at Jesus’ answer to Nathanael.

50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”

Jesus is essentially saying to Nathanael, “you may have been moved to belief by what I told you about yourself but we’re only scratching the surface here compared to what you will see. I’m only getting started.” Then in verse 51 we see the example of what Nathanael was to witness.

Jesus: the one who reveals the love of God to man

51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Jesus is telling Nathanael to listen closely because this is important when he says Truly, truly. Listen up Nathanael, you’ll see the things of heaven revealed to you. You’ll see the realities of heaven made clear to you. And Jesus points to himself as being the one who will make things clear for him. It’s a figurative statement here when Christ says, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

Here’s this seventh name for Christ we’re noting in chapter one; Son of Man. And Jesus, as the Son of Man is the revealer of God to man. Jesus is the one who reveals the love of God to man. Jesus is the one who communicates heaven to earth. Jesus is like the ladder upon which the communication of God’s love for mankind is sent from heaven to earth, from God to man. It’s the truth we know so well echoed in John 3:16, 17:

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Who is Jesus? Jesus, is the Son of God, the one with authority; Jesus is the one who knows you; and Jesus is the one who reveals the love of God to you.

The question for you is will you believe in Him? And if you have believed in Him will you yield to Him daily?