John 1:43-51 (NRSV)
Verse 43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Verse 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Verse 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Verse 46Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Verse 47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Verse 48Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Verse 49Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Verse 50Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." Verse 51And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
According to our gospel reading, when Nathanael heard Jesus was from Nazareth he asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” A good question of suspicion. Yet Jesus, seeing Nathanael coming, says, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!”
This guy from a no-good town now calls Nathanael an Israelite—one who wrestles with God—who tells it like it is. Nathanael is convinced. “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” So in John’s story, Nathanael becomes the first disciple to call Jesus the Son of God and King of Israel. And so the church remembers Philip as the first missionary, the one who invites his friend Nathanael to come and see Jesus.
Lord Jesus, in this dark and cold midwinter, we could use a prod to come and see. Nudge us with your call to follow you. Lord lead the way to you. Amen.