Apostle Nathanael Bartholomew and His Fig Tree. What’s Nathanael’s question? How do you know me? Jesus knew him because of the fig tree. Have you seen a fig tree? Have you ever attempted to get under a fig tree? It’s not like sitting under a pine tree. I mean, you have to work to get under a fig tree. Apostle Nathanael had a secret place, a hiding place, caved out under a fig tree where only he and God knew about. It was his secret place and his hiding place. It was where he sought God and meditated hoping in God’s Word.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 6

by Delbert Young

Apostle Nathanael Bartholomew and His Fig Tree (Luke 6:12-16)

Apostle Nathanael Bartholomew and His Fig Tree

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Apostle Nathanael Bartholomew and His Fig Tree – Luke 6:12-16

Scriptures: Luke 6:12-16; John 1:45; John 1:46; Micah 5:2; 1 John 2:18; John 1:46; 2 Peter 2:1; John 1:47; John 1:48; Psalms 119:114; Psalms 91:1; John 1:49; John 1:50; John 1:51; Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 16:28

Luke 6:12-16 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, BARTHOLOMEW, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

When I was in high school, I was very shy. I had a tough time asking girls out on dates. One of my friends came up to me one day and said, “Hey, I’ve lined you up with a great date for Saturday night. It’s all set.” “Who is it?” I asked. It was his cousin Doris. I didn’t know Doris. I said, “No, no,” My friend said, “Hey, don’t worry. Doris is amazing. Trust me – she’s a babe. But, if you don’t like her, here’s how to get out of it. It’s what I do. I go to a girl’s front door to pick her up, and when she opens the door, I check her out. If I like what I see, then great, we’re all set. But, if she’s obviously not linking to me, I fake an asthma attack. I go ‘Gasp! Gasp! Gasp!’ I hold my throat like I’m having trouble breathing. She asks, ‘What’s wrong?’ I say, ‘It’s my asthma.’ We have to call off the date. That’s it.” I said, “Well, I don’t know… but okay.” Beggars can’t be choosers, right? So I went to pick up Doris, knocked on the door, and within seconds, Doris was standing right in front of me. My friend was right. Doris was beautiful, but Doris took one look at me and went, “Gasp! Gasp! Gasp!”  Ok. I admit. That was a joke.

What’s your point, Delbert? In today’s lesson, Bartholomew’s friend sets him up on a blind date with Jesus. “Come on,” said Philip. “See for yourself.” Bartholomew did and his life changed forever. Who set you up with Jesus? Who have you set up with Jesus?

Bartholomew (Bar means “son of,” so Bar-tholomew is actually son of Tholomew) is also called Nathanael. Apostle Nathanael Tholomew is how we would say it today. He was a close friend to Philip who we talked about last time.

John 1:45 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.”

Philip was Nathanael’s good friend and brought him to Jesus. Do your good friends take you to Jesus, or away from Jesus? That’s not a question just for only students. Parent’s, that’s a question for you.

The emphasis here is Apostle Nathanael knew his Bible – scriptures. The only people we should approach with scriptures are people who know the scriptures. Philip said, “Oh man! We’ve found him! I couldn’t wait to tell you. The one Moses wrote about, the one whom the prophets also wrote, I’ve met him. This guy is awesome!” Nathanael knew exactly who Philip meant because he knew his scriptures. Really, Nathanael would have said. “Who is he? Where’s he from?” “He’s Jesus the son of Joseph in Nazareth.” Nathanael looks at Philip, pauses, and asks a very good question.

John 1:46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”

“Nazareth! You’re kidding right? Nothing good comes from Nazareth.” Why did Nathanael respond this way? Nathanael wasn’t being disrespectful to Nazareth. He was being scriptural and he was correct. Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, so there can’t be anything good coming from there connecting Nazareth with the Messiah. He responded that way because he knew his Bible and Nazareth was not how he had it figured out. It’d be like telling some of you antichrist has already come. Nathanael had good reason to be a skeptic and ask that question. If people knew their Bible a lot more “good questions” would be asked.

The prophet Micah wrote the Messiah would come from Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, OUT OF YOU will come for me ONE who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Nothing about Nazareth in that verse, but where was Jesus born? Jesus came out of Bethlehem, but not the way Nathanael had it figured out and was taught. I know, I know – some of you are still hung on my antichrist statement. You’ve got it all figured out, so I’ll show you. The apostle John writing around 70 A.D. said,

1 John 2:18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, EVEN NOW MANY ANTICHRISTS HAVE COME. This is how we know it is the last hour.

The antichrist was here 2,000 years ago. Once I had a lot of things all figured out concerning the Bible. I had things like the rapture, antichrist, great tribulation all figured out. I was an expert like Nathanael. I had my charts. I taught my doctrines and, according to many theologians and denominations, I was right on, but I found out, as did Nathanael, I was wrong. What changed me? A similar thing to how Nathanael changed.

John 1:46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “COME AND SEE,” said Philip.

We may have good reasons to think the way we think. That’s how we’ve been taught, but we can be wrong and unless we are big enough to come and see, we will miss Jesus. Wrong teaching will cause you to miss God. Wrong teaching will cause you to look for God where he is not and not look for him where he is.

How did Philip handle Nathanael? “Ok. I hear your point. How about just coming to see for yourself.” I know you know what you are talking about, but please, for me, come and see.” Now that’s how to do it.

I’ll never forget how I felt and what I thought when I began to hear things about the kingdom of God that were, to me, totally heresy, but something inside of me said, “Come and see.” I am a student of the Bible and have an inquisitive mind especially when it comes to the scriptures. During my studies I began running into scriptures I simply could not answer with my current understanding, I found the only answers were coming from the place I thought nothing good could come from – what I had labeled heresy. Judy and I drove for hours. We had to spend the night in our car. We got dressed in an Interstate rest area, but we went to see and our lives changed forever.

How about you? How much about the scriptures do you know? Do you know enough to know what to ask? Apostle Nathanael could not be deceived about a false Messiah because he knew his Bible. I think what the passage is wanting us to see about Apostle Nathanael is that Nathanael was an expert. Every one of us is an expert about something. You know a lot more than others about something. What is it? If I got you to write on paper what you felt you knew a lot about what would you write? But, how many could honestly write, “I know a lot about the Bible?” We say it’s the word of our God, but most Christians don’t know anything about it. No wonder you’re waiting on antichrist to come.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be FALSE TEACHERS AMONG YOU, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

What’s also interesting to me is many people think they know the scriptures because that’s what someone taught them, but when shown truth which contradicts the false teachings they believe, they refuse the truth and hold to their false doctrines. I actually had a man tell me one day when I showed him undisputable truth straight out of the Bible, “I see that, but I don’t receive that.” I can’t tell you the times similar situations have happened to me. Truth frequently does not align with how we’ve been taught and how we have it figured out. This is what happened to Nathanael, but Nathanael went to see.

(NIV) John 1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a TRUE ISRAELITE, in whom there is NOTHING FALSE.”

(KJV) John 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an ISRAELITE INDEED, in whom is NO GUILE!

Jesus said Nathanael was “a true Israelite…” What does that mean? One thing it means is all Israelites are not true Israelites. They must be false Israelites, or false children of God. Jesus said there was nothing false, no guile in Nathanael. The word translated false and guileis dolos {dol’-os} meaning craft, deceit, guile, subtlety. Apostle Nathanael protected himself from crafty doctrine and deceitful doctrine. All were not like Nathanael. They were deceived by the craft of false doctrine, false prophets, and false teachers. Nathanael was a true Israelite –a true child of GodWhat a great compliment! I would love to know the Lord Jesus said that of me. “There’s Delbert, he’s a true child of God. In him there is nothing false and no deception.”

Not only was Nathanael a man of the Word, he was also a man with a pure heart. There’s no guile and no deceitfulness.

John 1:48 “HOW DO YOU KNOW ME?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still UNDER THE FIG TREE before Philip called you.”

What’s Nathanael’s question? How do you know me? Jesus knew him because of the fig tree. Have you seen a fig tree? Have you ever attempted to get under a fig tree? It’s not like sitting under a pine tree. I mean, you have to work to get under a fig tree. Nathanael had a secret place, a hiding place, caved out under a fig tree where only he and God knew about. It was his secret place and his hiding place. It was where he sought God and meditated hoping in God’s Word.

Psalms 119:114 Thou art my HIDING PLACE and my shield: I hope in thy WORD.

Psalms 91:1 He that dwelleth in THE SECRET PLACE of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

The secret place is where we really get into God. Where is your secret place? The hiding place is where we hope in his word. Where is your hiding place? It’s the place you lay your heart upon the altar. It’s where you sincerely pray and talk with God. It’s the place where all your guile comes out. Do you have a fig tree? Have you caved out a spot for you and God to hang out? The fig tree is where we meet God.

Why was Apostle Nathanael a child of God with no guile and a pure heart? He had his fig tree. He had his fig tree where he studied God’s word. He had his fig tree where he kept his heart pure and laid open to God.

Where’s your fig tree? Mine is my study and in this room. Here’s where I tunnel in and it’s just me and God. At one time it was my bedroom. I’ve known people to have a special place in the woods. Where is the fig tree you get under? It requires some work. That’s where Nathanael was before Philip called him and Nathanael knew Jesus wasn’t under the fig tree with him, unless… Nathanael asked,“How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “Under the fig tree.” Nathanael realized Jesus had to have been there and that meant he was face to face with the one Moses wrote of in the law, and about whom the prophets also wrote!

John 1:49 Then Nathanael DECLARED, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

Nathanael began with very low expectations for Jesus to be the Messiah, but all doubts were taken away. Nathanael went from doubt to declaring Jesus is “Rabbi,” “the Son of God,” and “the King of Israel” all in one sentence.

John 1:50 Jesus said, “YOU BELIEVE BECAUSE I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.”

Jesus wasn’t presenting a question. He’s telling Nathanael why Nathanael believed, but also told Nathanael, “You ain’t seen nothin yet.” Jesus questioned Philip, “Don’t you believe…” (Joh 14:10). Jesus told Nathanael, “You Believe because…”

What would Jesus tell you? What is the reason you believe? Have you ever thought about why you believe? Why do you believe? Do you have “one” good reason? Most of us would say we have many reasons, and we do, but what is your number “one” reason? I pondered this. My number one reason is because I literally watch God’s word never fail. I watch people bless themselves and curse themselves every day. God’s word never fails and that tells me Jesus is “Teacher,” “the Son of God,” and my “King.” “I believe because… because I know God’s word is accurate to the tiniest particle. I’ve learned not one jot or one tittle will pass from God’s word (Mat 5:18).

John 1:51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the SON OF MAN.”

Jesus gave Apostle Nathanael a metaphor from the life of Jacob called “Jacob’s ladder” (Gen 28). Apostle Nathanael would see, and did, heaven’s supernatural power and divine revelation come down upon Jesus. Not only did Jesus verify he was the Messiah. Jesus let Apostle Nathanael in on a secret. Not only was Jesus “Rabbi,” “the Son of God,” and “King of kings,” Jesus is also the Son of Man.

What does the Son of Man mean? It’s a reference given by the prophet Daniel.

Daniel 7:13-14 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a SON OF MAN, coming with THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

It’s a vision of Jesus ascending with the clouds (Act 1:9) receiving his kingdom that will never end or be interrupted (not for 7 years, or 3 1/2, or ever). The thought of the clouds of heaven is the Son of Man coming with his army to judge. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 16:28.

Matthew 16:28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the SON OF MAN coming in his kingdom.

Jesus spoke of the time he would come to judge Judaism and Jerusalem was laid desolate. Either that’s what he meant, or we have some two-thousand year old men walking around. The Son of Man is the way Jesus referenced himself and is used over eighty times in the New Testament. Interestingly, chronologically, he revealed himself as the Son of Man first to Nathanael and Nathanael would know exactly what he meant. Jesus told Nathanael the kingdom had come.

It is said after Pentecost, Nathanael “Bartholomew traveled to India to preach to the people there, leaving behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew.” In Armedia “the king rent the purple in which he was clothed, and ordered the holy apostle Bartholomew to be beaten with rods; and after having been thus scourged, to be beheaded.”  However, he did see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

So, how do I challenge us today? It would be a little dumb to ask how many want truth. We all believe what we think is truth, but maybe, just maybe, everything we believe isn’t the truth. Maybe, just maybe, we are looking for Jesus where he’s not and not looking for him where he is. Maybe the way we have it figured out isn’t how it’s going to be. How many are willing to admit, “Maybe, I could be wrong” and ask the Lord to help us find truth? How about your fig tree? If you have one, when was the last time you got under it? If you don’t have one, I promise you if you will tunnel one out Jesus will meet you there just as he did Apostle Nathanael Bartholomew. “How do you know me?” “I saw you under the fig tree.”

Other Related Sermons:

Great Tribulation and Olivet Discourse – video audio notes Revelation

Easter Blood Sacrifice – sermon video audio notes

Story that will Never Die – Easter sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young

http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/i-do-part-1–the-first-date-spencer-homan-sermon-on-discipleship-143289.asp

http://www.about-jesus.org/martyrs.htm