Throughout our lifetime, we will come in contact with many skeptics on a variety of subjects. But, there has never been a skeptical phrase more noted and more lingering than the one spoken by Nathanael, the disciple listed in the original twelve as Bartholomew.
When John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, was preaching in the wilderness "The kingdom of heaven is at hand", he preached this message right up until the day he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." So John was not surprised when two of his disciples immediately left him to follow Jesus. He knew he would decrease as the Lamb of God increased.
When the two disciples, Andrew and John, began following Jesus, they didn't know what to think when Jesus turned and asked them, "What seek ye?" Of course, Jesus already knew what they wanted; so He wasn't surprised when they just answered His question with a question: "Rabbi, where are you staying?" On the surface, that wouldn't seem like a sufficient answer to Jesus' question. But, in calling Jesus Rabbi, which means Master, the disciples were professing Jesus to be a great teacher from whom they wished to learn. And when there is a genuine desire to learn more of the Savior, the Savior never turns anyone away. Jesus answered, "Come and see." And evidently they went and saw enough because they ran back and convinced their brothers, Peter and James, that they had found the Messiah.
Now, Jesus and His four new followers go into Galilee where they find Philip, and without any previous introduction to Philip, Jesus says to him, "Follow me." And once Philip was found, he went to share his new-found joy with his friend Nathanael. But, when Philip told Nathanael, "We have found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth", Nathanael had a problem with that. Of Nazareth? The despised city of Galilee? Nathanael couldn't begin to imagine the Messiah coming from the remote, good-for-nothing, hick town of Nazareth, with its population of about two thousand people. So he voiced his concern with the question that still lingers over two thousand years later, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip detected the skepticism, but he didn't argue. I can imagine him thinking, "Seeing is believing. It's not about the town, it's about the Man from the town. Nathanael, if you don't believe me, "Come and see."
When Jesus saw Nathanael, He said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile. I saw you under the fig tree." I'm sure Nathanael must have made a nervous little chuckle as he thought, "Under the fig tree? No one sees me when I'm under the fig tree! The branches hang real low and there's plants and leaves all over everywhere. No one knows when I'm there because that's my private time with God. I'm praying under the fig tree, I'm praising and worshiping my God under the fig tree, so no one knows I'm under that fig tree but me and ............GOD. Oh, what a revelation! And Nathanael cried out, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." In that moment, Nathanael realized the ALL GOOD comes from Nazareth. The Omniscient Lord who knows everything, even the very heart of man comes from Nazareth. Then the Omniscient Lord told Nathanael, in so many words, "You believed because I saw you under the fig tree, but you will see greater things than that. You ain't seen nothing yet! In fact, follow me; we've been invited to a wedding in Cana.
You all the story of the wedding in Cana. But what you may not know is how embarrassing and disgraceful it was for hosts to run out of wine. What you may not know is that in Scripture, many times wine represents joy. So when Mary, Jesus' mother, came to Him and said, "they have no wine", in essence she was saying, "they're out of joy. And that's the way it is for the unsaved. They have no joy. But, Jesus is the "J" in joy! One songwriter even said, "Jesus is the Center of my Joy." Hallelujah! So Jesus, who could have performed His first miracle to satisfy His hunger after forty days in the wilderness, chose to perform His first at this wedding feast in Cana. Fortunately for the bride and groom He had been invited. Jesus told the servants, "Fill these six waterpots to the rim with water." He told the servants, not the disciples, because He didn't want anyone to claim He and His disciples had used some sort of trickery. He said fill them to the rim, and you know when something is filled to the rim, nothing else can go in. So, no one could say wine had been added to the water. Jesus wanted nothing to prevent the servants and disciples from recognizing that He is indeed the Son of God. And you know the rest of the story. Almost two hundred gallons of water was turned into the best wine the guests had ever tasted. And the Scripture says the disciples believed.
But not all believed. In Judea, the Jewish people were always looking for signs or miracles, and although Jesus performed miracle after miracle, they still did not believe. So you can imagine what they thought when Jesus told them of a prophesy that would take place in a few years, "You will destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again." They thought He was crazy! The only temple they could think of was Herod's temple that had taken forty-six years to build, and surely no man could rebuild it in three days, so that made them reject Him all the more. They didn't even realize that Jesus was speaking of His death and resurrection. His own people rejected Him. So, Jesus took His message of salvation elsewhere. He and His disciples left Judea, and the Scripture says, "He must needs go through Samaria."
Why did Jesus need to go through Samaria? Although it was the most direct route to get to Galilee where He was going; few Jews ever took that route. They would take the long way around just to avoid any contact with a Samaritan. And surely there was nothing in Samaria that Jesus needed. But, there was someone in Samaria who needed Jesus. So, a Jew met a Samaritan and never has a request for a drink of water meant so much in someone's life.
Jesus and His disciples came to a little village called Sychar. Jesus sat down by the spring known as Jacob's well, while the disciples went to buy food. As Jesus was sitting, a woman came to draw water from the well. Since the woman was drawing the water herself, this meant that she was poor, which could account for the sin she had fallen so deep into. But, this day sinner would meet Savior and acknowledge her sin. This day, a Jew would teach a Samaritan all about a well far better than Jacob's well. A well where one could get a drink of "Living Water" and never thirst again. Jesus first asked relief of the woman, but then He got to the real reason He was in Samaria. He offered the woman relief: all the spiritual blessings which come through faith in Him. And the Samaritan woman did something that changed her life forever, she accepted the "Living Water".
And the Scripture says, "The woman left her waterpot and went into the city", where she immediately became a witness for Christ. She told the people, "There's a man at the well who told me everything I ever did." But Jesus didn't really tell the woman everything she did, although He could have. But what He told her was too personal for any outsider to know. The woman knew that the Samaritans and the Jews wouldn't even speak, so no Samaritan would have told Jesus about the five husbands and the one she was claiming. So the woman was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. She told the people, "This man at the well has to be the Christ. Come and see." And because of the woman's testimony and the teachings of Jesus, the people of Samaria believed. But again, not all believed.
The more signs and miracles Jesus performed, the more others believed. But not the Jewish leaders. Their unbelief led to opposition, hostility, and persecution. Since compassion was something they knew absolutely nothing about, they started an open conflict with Jesus when He healed the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda. This man had been invalid for thirty-eight years, even before Jesus was born. The story goes that an angel would come down at a certain time to stir the water, and the first person to get into the pool was healed of his sickness. For years this poor man had crawled to the pool but had no chance of being the first to get in because he was all alone with no one to help him. But one day Jesus saw the man and had compassion on him. I can imagine Jesus telling the man, "You're not alone anymore. I know you can't make it to the water, but I'm here now. I made that water, and I created the angel who stirs the water. I say to you, you don't even have to get in the pool, just"Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." And the man did just that, but this miracle took place on the Sabbath. When questioned by the Jewish leaders, Jesus anwered, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." In other words, I work because my Father works. To the Jewish leaders, Jesus had not only broken the Sabbath, but had claimed equality with God. This stirred up their anger and hatred so much that they began to pursue His life.
Jesus was never discouraged by the Jews reaction to Him. He Knew that all His Father's purposes and plans would be fulfilled. So He went on preaching and teaching, healing and forgiving, and performing miracles. He taught some Jewish leaders the errors of their understanding, He showed mercy on a woman caught in adultery, He healed a man born blind, fed over five thousand with five loaves and two fish, and He walked on water to rescue His disciples. Then, Jesus performed the greatest miracle of His public ministry. He raised Lazarus from the dead. This wasn't the first time Jesus had raised someone from the dead, but the other two had been raised on the first day of death. By the time Jesus reached Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days.
Jesus could have gotten to Bethany sooner, because as soon as Lazarus became ill his sisters sent word to Jesus saying, "Lord, the one you love is sick."But Jesus stayed where He was for another two days. He told the disciples, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." Jesus didn't mean that Lazarus wouldn't die. He meant that the final outcome wouldn't be death. He already knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead. So when Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, Martha greeted Him with the words, "Lord, if you would have been here, our brother would not have died; but now it's been four days and by this time he stinks. The Jews had the idea that the soul hovered about the body until the third day, when corruption began, and then it took off.
Although Martha knew Jesus had raised others from the dead, she believed four days was too late for her brother. She didn't realize Lazarus could have been in the grave four weeks, four months, or even four years, Jesus was going to be glorified through Lazarus' resurrection. So Jesus assured Martha, "Your brother will rise again because I am the resurrection and the life. Now tell me, where have you laid him?" And they answered, "Lord, come and see." Jesus went to the grave and told the onlookers to take away the stone. Then He lifted His eyes toward Heaven, prayed to His Father, and afterwards cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." And Lazarus came forth, still bound from head to toe. He had life, but he needed liberty from the grave clothes, so Jesus told the people, "Loose him, and let him go." And Lazarus was given back to those who loved him.
The miracle of Lazarus, which took place about a month before Jesus' own death and resurrection, caused many to believe, even more of the Jews. After all, who else but God could raise a body from the grave after four days? But still, not all believed. Some of the Jews who witnessed the miracle were unwilling to accept Jesus as their Messiah, so they went and reported what happened in Bethany to Caiaphas and the Jewish council. Caiaphas, the high priest was a Sadducee, which was someone who did not believe in resurrection, so he suggested to the council that it would be better to go ahead and kill Jesus rather than take the chance of losing their nation. So it became official that Jesus must die as soon as possible.
In the following month, many things occurred leading up to the close of Jesus' public ministry (far too many to mention them all). But all these things occurred in accordance to the will of God, that His Son might be glorified. You know the stories! Jesus' anointment in Bethany; The plot to kill Lazarus; Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem; Judas' betrayal, Peter's denial, Jesus arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane; and ultimately the cross of Calvary. And I'm sorry but I just can't rush through the cross of Calvary. There's too much to learn there.
One of my favorite songs is, "There Is Room At The Cross For You." Those who loved Jesus were at the foot of the cross. Mary, John, and Magdalene were there. Those who hated Jesus were at the foot of the cross. Satan and the Jewish leaders were there. But as the song says, "Many have come and there's room for more, there is room at the cross for you." I dare you to come with me to the cross. Come and see, the perfect Lamb sacrificed for you and me. Come and see the head wrapped in thorns that lifted high and bowed low in prayer on behalf of mankind. Come and see the pierced hands that healed the sick and raised the dead, but were reserved for this Roman cross. Come and see the nailed feet that walked sixty miles to be baptized, but had no sin of which to repent. Come and see the body that was broken for the remission of our sins, and finally, Come and see the heart that loved so much that He willingly laid down His life for all, even the haters at the foot of the cross. Come and see, the Savior of the world. Come and see, Jesus of Nazareth.
The last six hours on Calvary is another story in itself, but there was lots of sadness and crying on Calvary that day. But weeping may endure for a night, or two nights, or even three nights, but joy cometh in the morning. And early that first Easter Sunday morning, joy came. Mary Magdalene went to Jesus' grave where she heard the angels say, "He's not here! Come and see! Look at the empty tomb. He has risen just as He said." Glorious Resurrection!! Our Lord had defeated death to redeem mankind to God. And because of the precious blood shed by Jesus, we can Come and see the alcoholic now dry; we can Come and see the prostitute now happily married; we can Come and see the drug dealer preach his first sermon. We can Come and see what Nathanael saw. We can see that the carpenter's stepson who lived in despised Nazareth is indeed the Son of God, and the King of Israel. Now, all mankind can know that something good did come out of Nazareth, but you have to be willing to Come and see.
|HOME||from pastor's pen||vision prayer||our son's memorial|
|family & friends||related links||SALVATION PLAN||news & events|
|guest book||today's meditation||mission lessons||search the Scriptures|
|personal testimonies||Father's Love Letter||inspirational reading||test your knowledge|