John 1:43-51 – Second Sunday after Epiphany – for January 18, 2014
Nathanael responded, â€œCan anything from Nazareth be good?â€ (John 1:46)
Like the majority of Jesusâ€™ disciples, Nathanael barely received a nod in the gospels. Unlike most of them, Nathanael delivered one of the most memorable questions about Jesus.
But first, another disciple named Philipâ€”who couldâ€™ve been Nathanaelâ€™s co-worker or neighbor or third cousin or boyhood best friend or maybe even his sisterâ€™s husbandâ€™s brotherâ€™s bossâ€”told Nathanael about a swell fellow named Jesus. Part of Philipâ€™s explanation included Jesusâ€™ hometown: Nazareth.
According to the fourth Gospel, Nathanael responded, â€œCan anything from Nazareth be good?â€
No one knows how Philip knew Nathanael. Their relationship either didnâ€™t matter or was a blank slate to the writer of John. Indeed, the ignorance about the disciplesâ€™ various relationships prior to following Jesus appears inconsequential to any of the gospelsâ€™ authors. Itâ€™s what comes after, right?
As with Nathanael and Philipâ€™s relationship, Johnâ€™s Gospel remained ambiguous about the tone of Nathanaelâ€™s query. In the sparse retelling of Jesusâ€™ ministry chronicled in the four traditional gospels, the ancient and modern believers werenâ€™t overloaded with clues about the emotional reactions of the disciples.
What did Nathanael really mean by his question? How tempting to add a singular word to verse 46. Continue reading →