The Expository Files.

Come and See

John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also in the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said to him, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, Come and see" (John 1:45, 46). "Come and see" was Philips' invitation, it is the Lord's invitation and it is our invitation to those lost in sin.

Missouri is the "Show Me" state. I am not a native of Missouri but I believe this designation means that Missourians are not gullible. They expect to see something before they will believe. I am also reminded of the expression "seeing is believing." God does not ask us to believe without evidence. If one will "come see" Jesus through the pages of divine revelation he will believe, like Nathanael, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, the King of Israel.

When Nathanael agreed to come, he had no great expectations about what he was going to see. His comment about Nazareth may not have been one of contempt but possibly a comment indicating the lack of any statements concerning Nazareth in Messianic prophecies. We can begin to understand his surprise when he was introduced to the Son of God, the King of Israel. He expected so little and found so much.

Jesus of Nazareth was the Word who was God and with God (John 1:1), and had become flesh so that man could behold the glory of God (John 1:14). Centuries before, Moses said to God, "Please show me your glory" (Ex. 33:18). But lest he die, God set Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand while He passed by. When he had passed by God took His hand away and allowed Moses to see His back (Ex. 33:20-23). God did not reveal himself fully to Moses, but in Jesus of Nazareth the revelation is complete.

In a dream, it was revealed to Joseph that Mary's child was Immanuel, "God with us" (Mt. 1:23). On another occasion, Philip said to Jesus, "show us the Father," Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:8, 9).

Today, we are invited to "come and see" Jesus of Nazareth through the pages of God's holy word. If one will just take an honest look at the eyewitness account of His life and teaching, His death, burial, and resurrection, they will come face to face with the Son of God, the King of Israel.

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He made a statement concerning Nathanael's character, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile" (John 1:47). When Nathanael asked Jesus how He knew him, Jesus answered, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you" (John 1:48). Jesus knew everything about Nathanael, his actions and his heart. The Samaritan women, also impressed by Jesus' omniscience, went into the city and told the men, "Come, and see a Man who told me all things that I ever did" (John 4:29).

How is it that Jesus knew so much about Nathanael and the Samaritan woman? It was because God knows all things. He knows everything about me and He knows everything about you. In fact there is nothing that we can conceal from Him. "O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether...where can I flee from your presence" (Ps. 139:1-4, 7)? He sees us.

Nathanael, convinced by the demonstration of divine omniscience, exclaimed to Jesus, "You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel" (John 1:49)! Jesus told Nathanael, "You will see greater things than these...Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and  descending upon the Son of Man" (John 1:50, 51).

Nathanael had seen enough to convince him that Jesus was the Son of God. Even greater things would be seen by Nathanael. He would see the fulfillment of God's eternal will for man's redemption through this Jesus of Nazareth.

In a dream, the patriarch, Jacob "beheld a ladder set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it" (Gen. 28:12). The Lord stood above it and said, "I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 28:13, 14). When Jacob awoke he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it...How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven" (Gen. 28:17)!

The ladder, or stairway, in Jacob's dream is between heaven and earth. It is that which allows access to the earth from heaven and access to heaven from the earth. In Jesus' statement to Nathanael, the Son of Man is the one upon whom the angels ascend and descend. The Son of Man is Jesus. It is a name Jesus applied to himself many times. Jesus said that He, The Son of Man is the one who would: be "lifted up" (John 3:13-14), "execute judgment" (John 5:27), give "everlasting life" (John 6:27, 53), and be glorified (John 12:23).

Angels are the messengers of God ascending and descending. Ascending with reports of their earthly reconnaissance (Zech. 1:11), and descending to execute God's will. What is it that allows God to accomplish His will? It is the work of Jesus Christ, His Son. God's promise of blessing to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the families of the earth was in the "seed," and that seed is Christ (Gal. 3:16). Christ's work is one of mediation. He is the bridge between God and man, heaven and earth.

Jesus told Nathanael that he would see heaven open (John1:51). The patriarchs "died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off" (Heb. 11:13). Concerning salvation the prophets "inquired and searched diligently" (1 Peter 1:10) testifying "beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow" (1 Peter 1:11). Nathanael would see the day when men could "come boldly to the throne of grace" that they might "obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16).

The miraculous signs, witnessed by men in the first century were truly amazing and wonderful, creating faith. But, there are "greater things." The emphasis is not on the sign, but on what the sign is pointing to. "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30, 31).

If we will "come and see," we like Nathanael can come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And believing we will see "greater things." We will see that the Son has opened heaven and we can have life in His name.


By Karl Hennecke
From Expository Files 1.5; May, 1994