When Jesus began His earthly ministry, there was no local church. When He ascended back to heaven three-and-one-half-years later, there was one church of at least five hundred assembled at one time (1 Cor. 15:6) and one hundred and twenty in the ten-day prayer meeting culminating in Pentecost (Acts 2). During the Lord’s ministry, countless multitudes followed – some for meat, others for miracles, some because they were following the multitudes, and yes, some for the message.
Yet the key to the assembled multitudes can be found in the one-on-one soul-winning ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is perfectly pictured in John 1. When Jesus was introduced by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God, two disciples began to follow Him. One of those disciples was John the Beloved. Immediately, he went and found his brother, Peter, and brought him to Jesus. Then, we read of how Jesus found Philip:
John 1:43-44 “The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. (44) Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.”
Jesus found Philip. Then, Philip went to his friend, Nathanael. Notice:
John 1:45 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.
Jesus found Philip. Philip went and found Nathanael and said, “We have found the Messiah!” Nathanael, however, was not impressed:
Joh 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
For some reason, Nathanael had a prejudice against people from Nazareth – and this prejudice almost kept him from coming to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet Philip was able to overcome this prejudice with his own enthusiastic testimony – and Nathanael, perhaps to pacify his friend, was willing to go and meet Jesus for himself. And, of course, the rest is history:
John 1:47-49 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! (48) 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. (49) Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
There are around us Nathanael’s who are not interested in Jesus, perhaps because of some firmly held prejudice or because of some negative experience or exposure in the past. When some come to them with an invitation to church, they are shut down with a curt, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Can any good thing come out of a Baptist church? Can any good thing come out of those Bible-thumping fanatics?”
However, they will, perhaps, listen to a friend like Philip. This is how my family got saved. We were not a Christian family at all. My mother was raised Catholic, and my Dad was raised an unsaved Baptist. After years of military life and travel, he was determined to never darken the doorstep of a church again. Then, we moved to Texas and a teenager in High School began inviting me to church. I had no interest. “Can anything good come out of church?” was my attitude. Yet he persisted – and I finally attended on Friend Day and was saved. That friend got me into church and kept me in, and I began to grow and change – and my parents saw the change. Later, my mother got saved, and then finally my brother and Dad were saved as well. My parents are still in that same church twenty years later.
This example could be repeated over and over again, in our church and in any church that is trying to get people saved. You are the key to a circle of people that no one else can reach. Are you afraid you don’t have all the answers? Neither did Philip. He just said, “I don’t know, just come and see for yourself.” His enthusiastic testimony overcame the prejudice of his friend – and Nathanael became one the apostles who changed the world.
Thank you for reading. God bless.