Nathanael, the Apostle, John 1:43-51 (7 May 2017)

This passage was briefly shared in one of the Wednesday prayer services in April 2017.

Nathanael, a man with deep religious sentiments. Like Simeon, he waited for the consolation of Israel and was among the number of godly souls who looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:25,38) .

Our Lord commended Nathanael in the following ways:

1.”Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit “. What makes the divine comment more remarkable is the fact that it was spoken by Christ to the other disciples who were present. And in humble response, Nathanael asked the One who praised, how He knew all about him. Jesus who had already read his inmost heart gave him the sincere testimony of being a pure Israelite. Nathanael was a man anyone could trust and so earned the warm salutation of Jesus. It was because he was guileless and possessed fine spiritual sympathies that he INSTANTLY recognized in Jesus, the Messiah for whom he had longed. It is important to note that the Lord was not saying Nathanael was a perfect man, for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). Nathanael was a sinner just like us. Jesus had looked into Nathanael’s heart and it was an honest heart with no trickery. Nathanael was a God seeking and a God fearing Jew. In today’s context among the believing Jews, he probably be called a Messianic Jew!

2. “Under the fig-tree, I saw you”. It would seem that under his own fig tree (favourite place for prayer and meditation), Nathanael often went to commune with God, and not at the corners of streets to be seen by men as the Pharisees did. Jesus eyes saw what the fig leaves hid from all else, and His ears heard those prayers, too intimate for human ears. That precious fig tree, was the secret place of Nathanael, where he mused upon the Scriptures, and poured out his soul before God.

Elijah had his special place – it was the mountain cave.

Jesus had His special place – it was the Garden of Gethsemane.

What about us? It is to be hoped, that we, also have a special place set apart for devotion in our home corresponding to Nathanael’s fig tree. May the pathway leading to the fig tree in the garden of our lives never be neglected and over crowded with weeds!

There is so much to learn from Apostle Nathanael! He reminds me of the Berean Jews in Acts 17:11, examining the Scriptures daily.

Our baptismal candidates go through the book “Christ loved the Church ” – (despite the old and difficult English in some sections), it was said that the author William MacDonald was an amazing man. He was a Harvard graduate and had a promising career in the finance sector. Yet he gave it up to go full-time work for the Lord. He preached and taught widely till the day the Lord took him home.

We just celebrated Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday! We are thankful for what Jesus had done for us. To save us from damnation and put us on the rightful path with God, our Creator, once again.

May the excellent ways of the Apostle Nathanael, be an encouragement for us to follow. May we like him, find our own fig tree, daily meditating God’s Scriptures and be moulded by His Spirit daily!


Elder Andrew Lim

Ref: All the Apostles of the Bible (Lockyer) / The Twelve (Khoo OS)