It was no small thing that
Jesus should have said of a man "Behold an Israelite indeed,
in whom is no guile", thus marking him out as one apart from
the majority of his nation, as being more spiritual than fleshly
or carnal: a son of Israel rather than of Jacob. Further, it was
no small thing that this man came to a fuller revelation and
apprehension of who Jesus was, and was thereby able to exclaim
"Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel."
And yet again, it was no small thing that he should have received
from the Lord this word of assurance, "Ye shall see the
heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending
upon the Son of man." That son of Israel went far beyond
Jacob and saw all the spiritual side of Jacob's typical dream. If
we knew all that these things meant for Nathanael we should
undoubtedly be convinced of the greatness of the blessing that
came to him on that day when Philip found him and bore his
testimony. And yet Nathanael was in danger at one point of
missing it all, and the reason was a foolish prejudice.
Nazareth had a bad name, and up
and down the country when Nazareth was mentioned people just
passed off as a bad lot everything and everyone in the town. So
whatever good there may have been suffered under the general
prejudice. Thus to suggest that Nazareth could produce any good
thing was pooh-poohed, and a cynical rejoinder was made "Can
any good thing come out of Nazareth?" The Devil was always
seeking to prejudice the chances of Christ getting a following,
and he would not stop at corrupting a whole town in the minds of
men to destroy the eternal and Divine values of one of its
Nathanael had taken up the
popular prejudice and epithet, and just for a brief moment that
prejudice stood to shatter and ruin that glorious prospect.
Everything for him trembled for that moment in the balances.
Would the prejudice win, or would the bigger and finer element
rise and waive the prejudice aside? How thankful he must have
been afterward that he decided to suspend the prejudice while he
put Philip's testimony to the test, while he set aside the
widespread and popular belief about Nazareth, and proved the
matter for himself!
What a tremendous blow to
prejudice was his "proving of all things"! What warning
he was ever able to give to others as to the infinite peril and
possibility of loss through being influenced by popular opinion,
even when accepted by the religious world.
Nathanael was tested by this
prejudice, and a prejudice is a test of every man's quality. In
the presence of something very generally accepted and believed,
although unproved, opportunity is given for many personal
interests to arise and govern the course to be taken; reputation,
future prospects, loss of friends and esteem, and many such like
It is a matter of comparative
values. Nathanael may have lost much, but ask him whether he made
a mistake! However, the lie was very definitely given to that
report, and the Devil was found to be behind it. The greatest
good possible to man came out of Nazareth!
So, while Satan works to
prejudice the Lord's interests, God only uses the prejudice as a
means to test the reality of those concerned, and the prejudice
is used as a safeguard against mixture and unreality in those who
will have God's best.
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony"
magazine, Jul-Aug 1938, Vol 16-4