The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.John 1:43-51
We first meet Bartholomew (who is most likely the same person as Nathanael) in a very interesting position.
In this account, Jesus gives Nathanael a compliment saying he has no guile. But there was much more to it than that.
Jesus declares that He saw Nathanael when he was making a very derogatory remark about who Jesus possibly was.
Just try and picture what Nathanael’s face looked like when Jesus was saying these things. He had just insulted Jesus and Jesus pays him a compliment for being so plain spoken!
This event gives us a glimpse of the nature of the new birth and how it works. I’m not saying this is when Nathanael was born again. However, this event shows that when faced with the glory of Jesus, there is an element of conviction but, at the same time, there is hope!
From this we can clearly see why the gospel is such a blessing to those who have been shown their sin. The gospel clearly explains to us that, yes, we are sinner, but that is whom Christ came to save!
Incidentally, Jesus uses the plain-spoken nature of Nathanael to bring about a VERY early declaration of Jesus truly is. The man who has no guile or misdirection in his speech plainly declares that Jesus is the Son of God and King of Israel!