People Have Questions.
Everyone carries some level of skepticism. Upon hearing the Gospel, whether they accept Christ or not, they’ll be looking for answers. Here’s just a sampling of what people want to know:
- Is there any real right or wrong?
- Is there a real heaven and hell?
- Why is there evil in the world?
- What about the wars started by Christianity?
- Don’t all religious lead to God?
- What happens to people who don’t know Jesus?
- Is Jesus really God?
We can’t run from these questions. We need to embrace them.
An account in John 1, of two men named Philip and Nathanael, can give us some insight into scepticism and why these big questions need to be discussed.
Philip & Nathanael
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (Jn. 1:43-51)
Philip’s Responds To Jesus
Not many people respond to Jesus the way Philip did. He responded immediately to Jesus’ call, but he also responded evangelically.
Jesus “…found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.'” (Vs.43)
“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'” (Vs. 45)
It looks like Philip’s first thought upon meeting the Messiah, is of his friend Nathanael. He likely had many questions for Jesus, but his questions could wait.
Nathanael needed to know that the promised Messiah had come!
Nathanael’s Responds To Philip
Philip finds Nathanael, but his invitation falls flat.
“Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?'” (Vs. 46)
Philip’s inclusion of the Law and the Prophets was a great place to start, but mentioning Jesus’ hometown put a wrench in the works for Nathanael.
At that time, everyone knew the prophecy, that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, not Nazareth! (Little did they know that Jesus was in fact, born in Bethlehem. He just grew up in Nazareth.)
Nevertheless, this question on Jesus’ hometown obviously left Philip without an answer. For a skeptic like Nathanael, the evidence wasn’t adding up. So Philip determined that seeing is believing.
“Philip said to him, ‘Come and see'” (Vs. 46)
Nathanael Responds To Jesus
Before Nathanael even reaches Jesus, the genius of our Saviour plays out a scenario that Nathanael didn’t see coming.
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming…and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!'” (Vs. 47)
Jesus gives Nathanael a compliment. But how would a skeptic respond to a compliment coming from someone they’re skeptical about? Likely with more skepticism!
“Nathanael said to him, ‘How do you know me?'” (Vs. 48)
Jesus really is God! Nathanael’s about to find that out.
“Jesus answered him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.'” (Vs. 48)
What happened to all the questions? Where did the skepticism go?
Nathanael Receives Jesus
As we established early on, everyone has questions. Everyone carries some level of skepticism. But everyone also carries another desire…they want to be known.
Jesus saw Nathanael, but he also knew him. Jesus knew that Nathanael’s desire to be known was more important than all the other questions, and all the skepticism.
Nathanael responds accordingly…and immediately.
“Nathanael answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!'” (Vs. 49)
Nathanael found out that Jesus knows us all better than we know ourselves. In perfect timing, when we need it most, He reveals it.
Responding To Skepticism
We need to answer every question as best we can. We need to embrace every skeptic we meet. We need to try our best, to present the Gospel as the only way to live in this life. And continue living in the next.
And yet, living 2000 years after Christ, we don’t have the benefit that Philip had. To simply bring someone directly, face-to-face to Jesus when they have questions.
We do however, have the Holy Spirit. We should rely on the Spirit in the same way Philip relied on Jesus.
Once it’s revealed to them, that they can be known and loved by God, the questions and skepticism will become a part of their walk with Him. In His perfect timing, He’ll reveal the answers we need, usually waiting until we need them most.
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
Do you have questions about Christianity? Would you consider yourself a skeptic?