The Gospel of John

Come and See!

The closing verses of John 1 end with John the Baptist identifying Jesus as the Lamb of God to two of his disciples. They also spend half a day with Jesus and then one of them (Andrew) introduces his brother to Jesus. Jesus then invites Philip to follow Him. Philip told Nathaniel, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazarene, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). To this statement Nathaniel said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” to which Philip responded, “Come and see” (John 1:46). Nathaniel was not so close-minded against people of Nazareth that he would not see for himself, so he went with Philip to meet Jesus. As they approached Him, Jesus said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile”. In his astonishment Nathaniel asked, “Whence knowest thou me?” and Jesus said, “Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee” (John 1:48). The amazed Nathaniel said, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:49).

Philip’s invitation to Nathaniel to “Come and see” was an invitation to a man to see whether the reputation of a certain city (Nazareth) included every person there and everything they did. It was an invitation to a prejudiced person to determine whether his prejudices were correct or not.

The exchange between Jesus and Nathaniel revealed two divine attributes of Jesus: His omniscience and omnipresence. Omniscience describes the all-knowing power of Jesus; omnipresence indicates His presence in every place. These qualities belong exclusively to God, and while there are recorded instances of individuals exercising those abilities in a few places (2 Kings 5:20-27), they are not the nature of man. Man cannot of himself know the thoughts of another, nor can he at the same time be in two different places. He has to have such power given him by God.

Jesus knew what Nathaniel did “under the fig tree” (John 1:48) — the whereabouts of Nathaniel, just as He knew where an ass and her colt were tied (Luke 19:29-34), what the owners of that colt would say when the disciples untied the colt (Luke 19:31-34), where a man, carrying a pitcher of water, would be in a certain place (Luke 22:7-10), how many husbands a woman in Samaria had previously besides the man she was presently living with (John 4:16-19), what the first fish Peter was sent to catch would have in its mouth (Matthew 17:27), and that Peter would deny Him three times and when Peter had for the third time denied he knew Him, Jesus looked out over the crowd and caught Peter’s eye which caused him to weep when he remembered Jesus’ warning (Luke 22:54-62).

Just as Jesus knew what they were doing, He also knew the thoughts of each one’s heart. He knew that Nathaniel was a man without deception. He knew that the multitude who followed Him when He had fed 5,000 men besides women and children with just five loaves and two fishes didn’t seek Him because they saw a sign, but because they had eaten of the loaves and fishes and were filled (John 6:26). He knew what men were thinking on the occasion when four men had brought their palsied friend to Jesus to be healed of Him and Jesus said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:1-9). He knew what a certain Pharisee who had invited Jesus to eat with Him was thinking during which interval a woman from the city came in, began to cry and wet the feet of Jesus with her tears, then wiped His feet with her hair (Luke 7:36-50). He knew what Judas had done.

Jesus has lost none of His power, and while we find it incomprehensible that He can know not only what one man is doing at a certain time, but can also know what all men are doing and thinking at the same time. He knows how many hairs are on our head (Luke 12:7), when a worthless bird falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29), and just what I am thinking and meditating as well as the things I actually do. And just as He knows my thoughts and deeds, He know yours.

Nathaniel’s reaction to Jesus’ revelation of his actions was to exclaim, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art King of Israel”. Nathaniel had his opinions about Nazareth and the people who came from there, but he was an honest man who was brought to see Jesus for who He was. There are people today who fit into the same category who are all around us, and it is our task to talk about Jesus  so that such ones reflect their doubts and give us opportunity to say, as Philip said, “Come and see”.

Jim McDonald