Friday, September 25, 2009

Called to Follow - Bartholomew also called Nathanael

Today we meet Bartholomew or in Hebrew, "Son of Tolmai" meaning "God has given."

Don't you just love that meaning of a name? I do! As a mother, I relate. If I wasn't already done having children I would name my next one Bartholomew. God has given. Maybe I can convince a grandchild to be named this. It's at least worth a try. Most likely though, I’ll just hear "Mom!" as they roll their eyes at me and ignore my suggestion.

Back to our disciple....

Bartholomew was also known by another name, Nathanael. More often in scripture, we see him as Nathanael than Bartholomew. To make it easier on all of us, I will hereby refer to him as Nathanael.

Our disciple Nathanael was a student of scripture. He was always in search of true knowledge of God. We discern this by the way Philip tells him about Jesus.

John 1:45 - Philip found Nathanael and said to him "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

Nathanael was well aware of the promises in scripture pointing to the Messiah's coming. So Philip knew that if he was to have his friends’ attention he had better reference the promises made by Moses and the prophets. Philip also knew Nathanael would see the fulfillment when he met Jesus himself. So he said to his friend "Come and see." In spite of the prejudice Nathanael had for Nazareth as an unrefined and undereducated area, he goes with Philip to meet Jesus.

John 1:47 - Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said to him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"

Jesus sees Nathanael coming toward Him and greets him from afar. He calls him an Israelite with no deceit. What a comment for someone to make as you approach them. This person could see who Nathanael was and not only that, he saw his character.

He knew that Nathanael had no deceit in him. Nathanael was not the type to be sly or use trickery to get his way. Instead he was straight forward and honest. Maybe even honest to a fault, some might think. But he when you dealt with him you knew what you were getting into. There was no reading between the lines or trying to figure out what he really meant. I believe Nathanael was transparent and open.

Fit me right in there with this guy! I know the downfall and the up side of this trait. I have been told by some that they love it and others, well, they just stay away. I am transparent about my life and my faults. So much so that it has made people uncomfortable at times.

Believe me; I am not trying to make anyone uncomfortable. I just realize that God already knows and sees where I've been and what I've done. He sees my downfalls and short comings. I no longer need to feel ashamed for these things. It’s called grace and I plan to live in it daily and to the fullest.

I still must repent when I sin and try to live in righteousness. But I refuse to feel shame for what I have lived through in my past. I lived through abuse as a child, and talking about these things can make some people uncomfortable. I know and understand there discomfort. I just don't allow myself to take on anyone else’s shame or go back to mine that’s gone and forgiven.

Jesus knows our transgressions and everything about us. He took one look at Nathanael and knew who he was and what he was all about. He sees this about us also. Jesus sees inside us. He knows who we are, what we are thinking. He knows our next move before we even do.

How often do we believe we can hide things from God? We seem to think if we don't talk to Him about it that He doesn't know. What are we thinking? He can see it all. How much better off would we be if we were just honest and approached God instead of running away?

John 1:48-49 - Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered and said to Him, Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are King of Israel!"

Jesus knew Nathanael before he had ever met Jesus. He had seen Nathanael under the fig tree and knew everything there was to know about him. Philip was right; Nathanael did recognize the Messiah when he met him. He called Jesus, Rabbi and exclaimed You are the Son of God! You are King of Israel!

This pure hearted man with all sincerity knew who he was committing his life of service too. He would not waver later when he would be called to stand up for the truth. He would instead finish well, just as we are called to do.

He knew what was at stake. He knew that he might well have to die for his Savior. But his sincere heart called him to the one he had heard about probably from his early years.

Nathan shows us that having a pure heart after the true Messiah is worth the cost we might have to pay. He also shows one of the qualities we will need to finish the job we are called to. We will need to be without deceit. A heart with no guile, that’s pure and sincerely in love with Jesus.

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