The Lesson of Nathaniel
A Sermon on John 1:45-49
45Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses wrote in the Law, and the prophets also wrote: Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good be from Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.” 47 …
45Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come …
What is the difference between a true Christian life and someone who simply sees it as a formal religion? Is Christianity all about following the right rules and looking the right way on the outside? In this sermon on John 1:45–49, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers these questions by diving into the life of a man named Nathaniel from the New Testament. He uses this man to show that true Christians do not view Christianity casually, but out of a sincere and concerned heart. This means a heart that is not only interested in the things of the Lord, but one that has a desire to know them. Secondly, true Christians will carefully consider what is given to them and testing it against the Scriptures. Nathaniel did just this when he was told of Jesus of Nazareth. However, Dr. Lloyd-Jones is careful to point out that although he carefully considered what was told to him (“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”), he did not reject it all together. Those who truly desire to know the Lord must not believe everything they hear, but they also must not quench the Spirit. This is the mark of a true Christian: someone who truly desires to know Jesus Christ and who does not take the process lightly, but takes it with a concerned and sincere heart.
- The passage under consideration is John 1:45-49 which describes Philip telling Nathaniel about finding the Messiah.
- Nathaniel is described as an "Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." He is sincere, honest and without hypocrisy. This pleases God.
- Nathaniel took time to meditate on spiritual things. He was under the fig tree, thinking about God. This shows he was concerned and seeking after God.
- Nathaniel did not react with credulity to Philip's news. He did not uncritically accept what Philip said without question.
- Nathaniel also did not react with blind prejudice. He did not dismiss Philip's news outright without consideration.
- Nathaniel tested what Philip said against Scripture. He noted that the Messiah was prophesied to come from Bethlehem, not Nazareth. Though his conclusion was wrong, his method was right.
- We must avoid both fanaticism and quenching the Spirit. We must test all things against Scripture.
- The Lord knew Nathaniel even before Philip called him. The Lord knows us directly and personally.
- The Lord knows all about us - our desires, longings, prayers, everything.
- The Lord is concerned for us and interested in us. He encourages even our smallest moves towards Him.
- The Lord is patient with us and willing to answer our questions. He knows we are imperfect and leads us on.
- We should ask ourselves if we desire to know God above all else. Do we spend time meditating on Him?
- Do we know that God knows us? This is a great encouragement.
- Do we know that God is dealing with us, drawing us to Himself? This is a sign of His grace in our lives.
The Book of John
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.