18: Can Anything Good Come From Nazareth?
The next day Jesus and His three disciples made a journey to Galilee. While they were on their way, they met a man who came from Bethsaida, the same city that Andrew and Peter came from. The man's name was Philip.
Jesus said to him, "Follow Me."
Those two words were enough for Philip. He obeyed. Soon he knew he would be following Jesus all his life.
His happiness was so great that it was almost too much for him. He just had to let others share in it.
Philip had a friend with whom he had already spoken about the coming Messiah. This friend lived in Cana, a small village in Galilee, near Nazareth. He looked for his friend, because he knew that he was longing for the Savior too. Eagerly Philip told him the good news.
Philip's friend, who was named Nathanael, was in the garden, sitting in the shade of a fig tree. He had sought out a quiet place to pray by himself and to think.
Suddenly he saw Philip standing in front of him. Philip cried out, "We have found the one of whom Moses and the prophets wrote—Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!"
Nathanael looked at Philip suspiciously. There was no joy in his eyes. Sadly he shook his head. He would have liked to believe it, but he couldn't. He was an honest, upright man, and he did not seek to hide his disappointment.
"Nazareth?" he asked. "Can anything good come from Nazareth, that despised city?"
What could Philip answer? He didn't know what to say, for he knew very little about Jesus. His joy about Jesus was too great for him to jump into an argument.
"When he meets Jesus," Philip thought to himself, "he'll surely believe, just as I did." Therefore he said, "Come with me, Nathanael. Come and see!" That was the best answer he could think of.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming and said, "Look, here comes an Israelite in whom there is truly no deceit."
"How is it that You knew me?" Nathanael asked, amazed.
Jesus answered, "Even before Philip called you, I saw you sitting under your fig tree."
All the doubt disappeared from Nathanael's heart, and was replaced by joy. Someone who knew all about him in advance—wouldn't that have to be the Messiah? Then He wasn't the son of Joseph, as Philip had said.
Nathanael, deeply moved, bowed before Jesus and cried out, "Master, You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!"
Jesus answered, "You believe simply because I said to you that I saw you when you were sitting under the fig tree. I tell you, you will see much greater things than that."
From then on there were five men following Jesus wherever He went—five simple, true friends. They were the first of Jesus' disciples.