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Philip and Nathanael

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Following Jesus is a missionary life.

Jesus called Philip to follow Him in the Gospel of John, chapter 1. Philip immediately 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.”

Philip brings Nathanael to Jesus, and Jesus says of Nathanael, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” With Nathanael, what you see is what you get. There is complete integrity. Nathanael is not a stab-you-in-the-back kind of guy. Do you know anyone like this? Are you a person in whom there is “no deceit”? If you do or if you are, you know that a person who is brutally honest can do a lot of damage in relationships unless they are also a person who is deeply compassionate!

Nathanael is shocked that Jesus knows this about him without their ever meeting. “How do you know me?” is his question to Jesus. Nathanael did not know what we know for certain: Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. He can look into us and see what is in our heart.

Jesus responds to Nathanael’s question by saying, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” My reaction to that statement might well have been, “So you were spying on me? Where were you hiding? I didn’t know anyone was watching.”

But Nathanael immediately sees the implication of Jesus’ claim. Jesus seeing him before Philip came to him and knowing about his character without ever meeting him meant that something supernatural was going on. This was a God thing! And Nathanael responds with, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

And Nathanael began to follow Jesus, too.

Jesus knows us before we know Him. He sees us when we are living without Him, and even when we are trying to hide from Him. And through the Philip’s of the world—through those who already follow Him—He reaches out to draw us to Himself.

Following Jesus is a missionary life.

When Jesus catches us, we catch a calling. Our lives become about more than eating and sleeping and working and taking up space. Knowing Jesus is meant to lead directly to making Him known to others. D. T. Niles famously wrote, “Evangelism is one beggar showing another beggar where to find Bread.” Like Philip, we who follow Jesus have a calling to reach out to people we know and love who are without Christ and offer to them: “Come and see!”

Some people continue to see their identity in Christ as that of a sinner, always in need of grace. That is a true condition of our lives until we are fully sanctified by God’s Holy Spirit—a life-long task. But it is not our identity. By faith in Christ, we have become children of God. (John 1:12) We are joint heirs with Jesus. (Romans 8:16-17) And we are missionaries who make Jesus known to the world. (Matthew 4:19) The calling that gripped the life of Philip, and all the apostles, was not just a calling for them. It is not just a calling for clergy. Everyone who follows Jesus has caught this calling—to make Him known to the world.

Because following Jesus is a missionary life.

Who are the Nathanael’s in your life? Who needs to have you offer, “Come and see!”? Let’s follow Jesus and fulfill our calling. Let’s make Him known to a broken and fallen world.

Posted by Mike Dominick with