Tuesday, September 28, 2010


1. John alone mentions Nathanael. However, the other three gospels mention a disciple that John does not, Bartholomew. These two names probably refer to the same person. It is thought that Nathanael was a man’s first name and Bartholomew was a man’s second name. He is described as a person who is honest in his frankness (unlike Jacob in Gen 27: 35-37) without lies.

2. Nazareth: The town was an obscure village in Galilee. Galilee bordered Gentile or heathen nations; therefore it was sometimes called Galilee or the Gentiles. The Jews were so deeply prejudiced against the Gentiles that they considered anyone or anything touched by a Gentile to be unclean in the sight of God. Nazareth was despised by the Jews because it was on the border of Gentile country and was so commercially touched by Gentiles. It was despised by the Romans because its citizens were conquered people.

3. Fig Tree: In Palestine the fig tree stood for peace, security, rest and worship (1Kings 4:25; Mic 4:4) Very often a man would seek solitude and worship under his fig tree. No doubt this is what Nathanael had been doing. When Jesus told him that He had seen him under his fig tree, He was telling Nathanael that He knew everything about him, even the deepest longings of his heart. Jesus knew Nathanael’s despair and sense of hopelessness; He knew his longing for peace and release and freedom. That was enough to cause Nathanael to give his life to Jesus forever.

4. Several steps are taken here, which deserve to be carefully followed
1. The mediation and testimony of a friend.
2. The invitation to a personal interview with Jesus, accepted as readily it was wisely suggested
3. The evident insight possessed by Jesus into human character. He needed not that any man should tell him; He knew immediately what was the character of him, who was introduced to him.
4. The revelation of the man’s heart to himself by the authority of the Divine Rabbi. Others standing by could not fathom all the depths of this interview and conversation.
5. Jesus knew all; Nathanael felt the omniscience of Being he now began to understand.

5. I saw you under the fig tree – The earliest sight of Nathanael cannot be called a miracle in the Johnannine sense of miracles being “signs” but it generates a response in Nathanael that recognizes that something miraculous is happening.

We were fortunate to listen to Rt. Rev. Dominic Jala the Archbishop of Shillong, who preached the monthly recollection for us yesterday. He was talking about the significance of the sense of the sacred. In the name of improvisation of liturgy and growth we have lost this sense of the sacred and try to limit God only to the level of immanence forgetting the transcendental aspect of Him. This same attitude is also found in the way we treat fellow human beings and the nature, we have Nathanael who was able to immediately identity thy sacredness in Jesus and was able to give him totally to the Lord. This was possible mainly because he was well disposed by his prayers and meditation. We need to be aware of the sacred realties around, and for that we need to maintain our own sacredness by way of prayer, disciplined life and proper disposition.

The Pulpit Commentary
The New Holman’s Commentary
Sacra Pagina Series
The Preacher’s Outline and the Sermon Bible.

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