The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 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.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
- John 1:43-51
“Toward anything like thorough scholarship I make no claim. I am not an authority on any man’s teaching; I have never tried to be. I take my help where I find it and set my heart to graze where the pastures are greenest. Only one stipulation do I make: my teacher must know God, as Carlyle said, ‘otherwise than by hearsay,’ and Christ must be all in all to him. If a man have only correct doctrine to offer me I am sure to slip out at the first intermission to seek the company of someone who has seen for himself how lovely is the face of Him who is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley. Such a man can help me and no one else can.”
- A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of Man
I once heard a liberal preacher admit in a sermon that he had no call to the pulpit. He simply thought that preaching was a good way of dodging work the rest of the week. When my son worked at a fast food restaurant about ten miles from the church, he often saw the preacher come into the restaurant and get free refills of coffee for several hours while he read a novel (and not a Christian novel) – while the preacher was supposed to be visiting the sick and elderly. So, at least that part of his sermon might have been truthful. This preacher had a doctorate. He had plenty of head knowledge, but it seemed none reached his heart.
The call of Nathanael has always been odd to me. Could Jesus have passed earlier in the day when Nathanael was napping beneath the fig tree? Could Jesus have seen him beneath the fig tree from a block over? Obviously not, since Nathanael was so impressed. Nathanael not only had sight in which to see Jesus, but he had insight in which to know that Jesus saw him when it was impossible for a human to see him. As a result, he believed.
And you wonder at times in the telling of these stories revolving around Jesus as to whether the Holy Spirit removes a bit of the spiritual scales from their eyes at just the precise moment. They do not see Jesus in His transfiguration glory, but they see just a glimpse so that their momentary doubts melt away. Whatever happened, it was enough for Nathanael.
Tozer would listen to Nathanael all day, without ever slipping out during intermission. With the preacher that I mentioned before, he might slip out during the sermon and not wait for the intermission.
I was in a discussion about spiritual gifts a few days ago. I said some of what I have said in previous posts. I said that when you rely on your natural gifts and ignore the things that you may feel are not your spiritual gifts, you miss out on a journey of faith where any progress that you make is clearly God working within you. The other person dismissed what I had said and offered that if you are not good at it, you won’t do a good job. God wants us to do a good job, so what I had said is ridiculous. They completely ignored the work of the Holy Spirit, which was the topic of the discussion.
I said nothing in reply, but I could tell they had very little practice in relying upon God for the strength and ability to do something and even less interest in doing so. As Tozer mentioned, they knew and could expound upon the doctrine, but is there any heart in what they say? During the ‘intermission,’ I took my leave.
My brother was classically trained as a minister, completing the coursework at seminary and becoming ordained as a minister. I am not classically trained, but God urges me to write and share what I write. Since the urgings come from Him, I trust they reach those who will benefit by it.
Our younger son is a few semester hours of study away from a master’s degree in Music. He teaches elementary music but is qualified to be a band director. He needs hearing aids to hear after years of ear infections, but he can sit in the audience and tell you that the third trombone from the right missed a note and the fifth clarinet from the left was a quarter beat late. He can tell who is classically trained and who is not classically trained. But in both of those groups of musicians, he can tell who plays the music the best from the sheet music and who plays the best from the heart.
When you speak about Jesus, speak from the heart. When you write about Jesus, write from the heart. If you do not understand what that means, it is good to seek and ask questions.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.