January 17, 2021: Epiphany 2

Let us pray: Lord, in a world where very few speak the truth and even fewer do it in love, remind us today of the unfettered joy over harboring no false agendas or deceit as we converse.  That’s how You treat everyone, including us, as You lay out the way of salvation in the Bible.   May we do likewise as we spread Your  message of forgiveness and heaven. Amen


TEXT:  John 1: 43-51

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          The next time an election cycle comes along and a pollster calls me to ask: “What candidate do you support?” I’m going to answer: Nathanael.   I can hear it now: “Who’s Nathanael?  He’s not on the list.” To which I’m going to reply: “He should be.  He was a disciple of Christ and the one of whom Jesus said: “Behold a man in whom there is nothing false.”  Nathanael didn’t have any hidden agendas.  He had no deceit behind his words.  He was the same in public as he was in private.  Today we need a man like that in office!

          For these reasons, Nathanael is my favorite disciple.  He simply spoke the truth of his   heart and as Paul later tells us to do, “He spoke the truth in love.”  Let’s face it, if we all adopted a similar approach we’d never have to cover up former lies, would we?  Christ, Who reads everyone’s heart with perfect clarity right here in our lesson, gives Nathanael the highest of compliments, doesn’t He?  So, Nathanael for President!?  It has a nice ring to my ears!…


          Nathanael was also known as: Bartholomew.  We believe he came from Cana in Galilee,  a bit north of Nazareth which was Christ’s hometown.  We know that John the Baptist was preaching and Peter and his brother, Andrew, were early disciples of the baptizer.  They in turn had a friend named Philip, whom Jesus called.  “Philip 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.’  ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.” 

          Right here we see the essential nature of mission work.  It is one-on-one dialogue between friends. Dialogue that centers on Jesus.  Nathanael shows the blunt truthfulness of his heart, here, too.  He knows of Nazareth.  He’s an area boy and apparently Nazareth was held in scorn by most.  He’s honest.  But he was also wrong and by  following Christ openly admitted it!  So, when Philip says: “Come and see” he does. 

          Jesus sees him approaching and even though He never met him, says of this erstwhile disciple: “Here is a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false.”  High praise, from the One Who reads hearts!  “How do you know me?” Christ answers: “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”  Yes, Jesus is all-seeing across time and space.  Nathanael then openly declared what all this means: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

          He’s honest.  He arrives at the only conclusion possible when Christ says these words.  Only God’s Son can see and know everything—including his past under the fig tree.  Only God’s Son deserves the title Nathanael bestows on Him.  Only God’s Son is the Messiah, the King of God’s chosen people, Who came to take away the sins of the world.  Right here Bartholomew speaks the truth in love and respect and awe.  He’s totally honest.  The question for every Christian today is: When it comes to your confession, are you?


          Total truthfulness is rarely seen or heard in our world.  People tell half-truths to influence us and get their way.  That’s the way of Satan, isn’t it?  People tell us whatever it takes to bend us to their will.  Or, they tell outright lies to protect themselves out of selfish motives.  Most are afraid to the unvarnished truth—especially politicians.  And then people also  lie to themselves and tell themselves: “It’s for another’s good since they can’t handle the truth.”  Nathanael does none of this and neither does His Lord Jesus Christ.  Nathanael wasn’t perfect. He was a sinner, like us.  But his honest ignorance, shown by his statement about Nazareth, and then his free confession upon calm correction by Christ, shows his agenda-free heart.  Emulate Nathanael and you really cannot go wrong.

          Jesus concludes this interchange by saying: “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree.  You shall see greater things than that.” And then Jesus adds: “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of  God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”    And right after that in chapter 2, we find Christ doing His first miracle at the wedding in Cana—Nathanael’s hometown. Interesting, isn’t it?

          My mother drubbed into us that “Honesty is the best policy.”  And it’s true.  Nathanael was honest.—He didn’t know everything (ignorance over Jesus) but listened when politely corrected.  Jesus was honest with him, too.  And blessed promises of heaven and angels resulted.  Christianity is rooted in honesty.  Christ came exactly as prophesied, suffered for our sins of dishonesty and ignorance and false motives, and rose from the dead to give us a new life of total honesty before God.  So, our faith is and should be about pure honesty. 

          The one thing about deceit is that eventually you’re going to get caught out by the lying web you spin.  And then you’ll be crushed.  Not so for the believer!  Speak the truth in love and you’ll never have to second-guess yourself again. Whew!  What a relief!  Amen

THE peace of God which……

Pastor Thomas H. Fox     

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