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The Master's Men Part 2: Philip and Bartholomew B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 27, 2022 4:00 am

The Master's Men Part 2: Philip and Bartholomew B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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July 27, 2022 4:00 am

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So we meet Nathanael Bartholomew, the seeker of truth, prejudiced but not bound by it, honest, open, a man of prayer, a man of meditation, a man who made a complete surrender to Christ, a man with a keen mind and a heart of faith. He saw, he understood, and Jesus promised to him the most wonderful revelations, and everything he saw from then on he knew was heaven open. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. As a child in Sunday school, you may have memorized the names of the 12 disciples, and odds are for some of them, that may be all you ever learned about them. And yet scripture sheds more light on men like Philip and Bartholomew than you might realize. On this edition of Grace to You, John MacArthur looks at the lives of those two overlooked disciples, and the example that they are for us even to this day.

It's part of his continuing series of character studies titled The Master's Men. So grab your Bible and turn to Matthew chapter 10 as John starts with a bit of a review from yesterday's lesson. Jesus never intended to go through the work of proclaiming the kingdom alone. That's why when he began his ministry, he began it not only by preaching and teaching, but by training men with him at the same time he began his ministry. He never intended to be alone with it.

He was training them all the while so that when he left, they'd carry it on. And these are the ones he chose. Now let's look, first of all, at Philip. The three gospels say nothing about him, just his name, nothing else. But John's gospel mentions him four times. Go to chapter 12, verse 20. There were certain Greeks who had come down to Jerusalem for the feast. They were God-fearing Greeks, come for the Passover. And they had come because they had been devotees of Judaism. They had heard about Christ. And they came to Philip because he was the Greek connection. He had a Greek name probably, that's the reason they came to him. And they desired him saying, sir, we would see Jesus.

Well, Philip may have been approachable, may have been a warm-hearted fellow, but he didn't take him to Jesus. He said in effect, you know, you guys wait here. I don't know if this is kosher.

I don't know if this can happen. I got to go check. So he goes and tells Andrew, and together they go to Jesus. You know what we learn about Philip? He was not decisive. He was not forceful. Peter would have grabbed those Gentiles and dragged them into the presence of Jesus and said, Lord, look at these guys.

They want to see you. But not Philip. Philip would have to check it out, check it out with somebody else.

What was bothering him? He was still living in chapter 10 of Matthew, at the way at the beginning when the Lord had said, I am come, but for the lost sheep of the house of what? Of Israel. So he's saying, these are Gentiles. You know, it's not in the minutes to bring the Gentiles. I don't think the Constitution allows it.

The bylaws, you know. The Lord said he is not come, but for the lost sheep of the house of... You see, he had no sense of the bigger vision. He didn't get the message of grace. Yes, he came as the Messiah to Israel. But he had also said clear back in chapter 6, Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise...what?

Cast out. I mean, he never got the spirit of the thing. He's still gone by the code, you know. He's still analyzing everything, still going by the book. He's a literalist. He's got this little dinky focus. There's no precedent for this.

It's not in the code. Boy, he missed the whole vision of grace, didn't he? I mean, he said we found the Messiah, but beyond that he didn't really have a clue what was going on. Finally, we see him in chapter 14, and it isn't better, it's worse, if you can believe this. Three years later, verse 8, Philip says to Jesus, here they are the night before his...this is the Passover, this is the communion, you know, this is the time he's unfolding his heart to his disciples. He's going to be arrested and crucified and so forth right after this.

It's all coming to an end. And Philip says to him, Lord, show us the Father and that will be sufficient. Jesus said to him, how long do I have to be with you? Before you know me, Philip.

Boy, this guy is really a klutz. I mean, his spiritual vision is nil. Everything is superficial with him. He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. And how can you possibly be saying three years later, show us the Father? Believeth not that I am in the Father and the Father in me. Don't you believe that, Philip? And the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself but the Father that dwells in me. He doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works' sake. I mean, my words and my works, haven't they told you something, Philip? Oh, what puny faith, what a dull character. Show us the Father. He is the leader of the ignorant and slow of heart.

Three years, Philip gazed into the only face of God men ever saw, and he still didn't know who it was. He's not Phi Beta Kappa. Isn't it wonderful that the Lord uses those kind of people? Aren't you thrilled?

I am. He is no genius. He didn't get lesson one.

Jesus is God. Three years, he didn't get it. He needs to be in remedial class.

Basic has eluded him. He is so skeptical, so unconvinced. Here is a man of limited ability. Here is a man of inadequate faith. Here is a man of imperfect understanding. Here is a man who fools around with numbers instead of meditating. Here is a man who is stuck on the level of rules and codes and stuff instead of seeing God.

And someday he's going to reign over the tribes of Israel in the regeneration, and he's going to inherit gloriously in the kingdom beyond what he would ever have dreamed. A pessimistic, reluctant, insecure, unsure, analytical, skeptical man saw facts and figures and missed the big picture of power and grace. His faith was limited by money, circumstances, and proof. You know what tradition tells us about this, dear fella? He got his act together, and he wound up dying as a martyr for a Christ he wouldn't deny. And he said he only had one request, and that is that when he was dead, they not wrap his body in linen like his Lord because he wasn't worthy of that.

Aren't you glad God uses the slow, and the faithless, and the analytical skeptics because some of us find ourselves there, don't we? One more fella, and he's only introduced to us in one passage, and then we just lose him the rest of the time. His name is Bartholomew in Matthew 10. Bartholomew. But that was his last name. He was the last man in the world as his last name. His first name was Nathanael. Bartholomew, by the way, means bar talmai, son of talmai. Nathanael, son of talmai. Two names, his first and his last.

Nathanael means gift of God, son of talmai. And he was so different than his friend Philip. He was full of faith, and he was so contemplative, and so meditative, and so in all the supernatural, and he perceived everything as clear as crystal from the very beginning. He came from Cana of Galilee, again from a little village in Galilee. He was brought to Jesus by Philip, so he was acquainted with the rest of the gang. And only one passage in the Bible tells us about him, and it's John 1.

Let's go back. Verse 43. I think you're going to find him fascinating. It says in verse 43 that Jesus went forth to Galilee and found Philip and told Philip to follow him. And verse 45 then says, Philip finds Nathanael, or Bartholomew, and said to him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, and his name is Jesus of Nazareth, and he is Bar-Joseph, the son of Joseph.

Now what does this tell us? Well, it implies that Nathanael was a searcher of Scripture and a seeker after divine truth. It tells us that Nathanael would have known messianic prophecy and studied it because the way that Philip approaches him is, here's the one the Scripture told us about. The implication being that Nathanael was a student of Scripture. A further implication, I believe, being that Philip and Nathanael had probably spent hours and hours and hours studying together the Old Testament as they together were looking for the Messiah. We found him, the one that Moses wrote about. So the first thing we learn about Nathanael is that he was a studier of the Scripture, a searcher for truth, a seeker for God.

And that's the good part about him, like it was about Philip. He wanted to know God's truth. He hungered to know God's truth. He looked for the Messiah. But verse 46 tells us he had a sin, too. He had a weakness.

Nathanael said to Philip, can any good thing come out of Nazareth? You've got to be kidding. Now, he didn't live in any place that was that hot, frankly. Cana. I mean, that is a dinky place. But they had a little class in Cana. Nazareth was a despot. Nazareth was unrefined, you know? No, class, rowdy place. Wild place, uneducated. It was the last stop before the Gentile world, you know?

I mean, it was out on the fringe. I mean, nothing ever came out of Nazareth but trouble. Well, I don't know whether they had competition between the towns or not, but some kind of thing had built up in Nathanael's heart and he showed an ugly sin and that sin is the sin of prejudice. He shows prejudice toward a town. You know what prejudice is? It is an uncalled-for generalization based on feelings of superiority. It's an uncalled-for generalization based on feelings of superiority. He just blanketed the whole town of Nazareth and said nothing good ever going to come out of there.

Prejudice is ugly. I don't know if you've had the opportunity to read The Holy War by John Bunyan. I know you're probably familiar with Pilgrim's Progress, but The Holy War is an equally masterful allegory. And in The Holy War, Mansoul is a town and Immanuel and his forces are attacking this town. Christ is coming wanting to invade this life. And as the town of Mansoul sits there, Immanuel's forces approach and Bunyan says Immanuel's forces first attack Ear Gate.

But Diabolos, who is Satan, sets up a guard at Ear Gate and his guard is, says Bunyan, old Mr. Prejudice, an angry and ill-conditioned fellow who has under his power 60 deaf men. Prejudice has stopped a lot of folks from hearing the truth, hasn't it? You know what it was that prevented the scribes and the Pharisees from responding to Jesus Christ? It was prejudice. He was not from Jerusalem.

He was not trained in their schools. And even in Acts they said of the apostles, what do they know? They are ignorant and unlearned Galileans, hayseeds from the north who haven't been rightly educated.

The liberals say that about us today. There are people in the world who think that Christianity is a racist, religion. Prejudice is a device used often by Satan to blind people to the truth.

It caused the Jewish nation to remain deaf to the appeal of their own Messiah. So, Nathaniel showed prejudice. You say, boy, if there's one thing you don't want among the 12, it's a guy with prejudice. He was a good fellow, thoughtful, biblical, looking for the Messiah, quiet, meditative guy, full of prejudice.

Well, Philip offered him a solution. At the end of verse 46 he says, come and see. Now we're going to find out how deep his prejudice is. If he's really, really prejudiced, he's going to say, not on your life.

I wouldn't go near. But if he's got the kind of prejudice that can be overcome, he's going to respond. And he did respond. Verse 47, he went, and Jesus saw Nathaniel coming. And He said of him, here he is, and he's walking up ready to see this supposed Messiah from Nazareth. And up walks the Lord and says, behold, an Israelite for real in whom there is no hypocrisy. Boy, what an introduction. Talking about me?

Me? What is the Lord saying? What is an Israelite indeed? I mean, you're either a Jew or you're not, right? The word indeed is all I thought was a true Jew, a true Israel.

You mean you could be a Jew and not a true Jew? That's right. You mean you could be an Israelite and not a true Israelite? That's right. An Israelite and not a genuine Israelite?

That's right. Because circumcision is not that of the flesh, but that of the heart. Not all Israel is Israel, Romans 9, 6 said. There are Jews in the flesh who are not Jews in the covenant because they do not believe, right? Here was a true Jew, a guy who is a God-fearing, God-seeking, Messiah-oriented Jew, true Jew. And he said, in him there's no deceit, there's no guile. He is an honest, sincere Jew who seeks God. What a commendation.

What a commendation. But even someone as good as that. And he said there's no deceit in him. Jesus said that. There's no guile in him.

There's nothing phony about him. But even a man that good was still stained with the sin of prejudice. So you see, the Lord is always working with the unqualified at some point or another, even the best of them. His heart was right. His commitment was to the truth of God.

He didn't have any deceit or hypocrisy in his life. And the Lord just told him that. What a wonderful, lovely introduction.

Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if the Lord walked up to you and said, ah, a true Christian who is without hypocrisy. Boy, say thank you. Wonderful of you to say that.

I mean, he must have been a terrific guy. And to show you how really sincere he was, he said in verse 48, how do you know me? How do you know this?

How do you know my heart? And he knew he was a true Jew. And he knew he was a God seeker. And he knew he was sincere. How do you know that? You just walk up and you know that.

How do you know that? Jesus answered him, oh, before Philip ever went to get you, I saw you under the fig tree. Oh, that blew his mind. How do you know I was under a fig tree?

That's where he was. You say, what's he doing under a fig tree? Do people get under fig trees? What do you do under a fig tree? Basically in Palestine, fig trees were planted around houses, as well as places where they would be harvested as a crop. And a fig tree would grow to a height of 15 feet and spread its branches out about 25 feet from the middle as far as 25 feet. And it would be like a very great shade area.

And it's very hot there, you know. And in many of the poorer homes, there was only one room and there was little breeze very often. And so you could go out under the fig tree and you could find shade and comfort and coolness. But beyond that, a fig tree became the only place you could go to get away from the house and the hustle and bustle of what was going on inside. And so it became a place of retreat. It became a place of respite.

It became a place to be alone. It became a place of prayer and a place of meditation and a place of contemplation, a place of communing with God, a place of searching the Scripture, a place of quietness. And it may well be that Nathanael was out under the fig tree, as so many Jews did, and he was meditating and he was praying.

The quietness and the solitude away from the activity of the house, he was seeking God in the privacy of the shade of the fig tree. And Jesus is saying to him, I saw you. I saw you meditating. I saw you seeking. I saw your open heart. I saw you in the secret place, the private place. I saw your true desire. I saw what was there and what you wanted to know, and I'm here.

Pretty exciting. Well, here was Nathanael very possibly praying under the fig tree. Lord, show me your Messiah. And here comes Philip shooting under the branches saying, Nathanael, I found him.

Your prayers answered. He's from Nazareth. And then Nathanael says, so you got to be kidding.

I mean, even he knew that it said in the prophets, Micah, he shall come forth out of the Bethlehem, and nothing good ever comes out of Nazareth. Come and see. Come and see.

Okay? His desire overwhelmed his prejudice and off he went. Well, that's enough for him. Nathanael, verse 49, answered and said to him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God. Thou art the King of Israel.

You want to know something? Three years later, Philip wasn't sure about that, whether he was God. Nathanael knew it immediately. He saw deity in his presence. He saw deity in his presence. Philip's concept was that the one who Moses spoke about has come, but he wasn't too sure who he was.

But Nathanael knew instantly, this is the Son of God. Oh, what commitment. Oh, what a heart. And Jesus said this to him, because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, thou believeth. It shouldn't be a question.

It's a statement. The reason you believe is because of my omniscience. You were convinced that only God could know everything. My omniscience convinced you who I was. He says, listen, you're going to see greater things than that, my friend.

You have only just begun to see. He was knocked over by one little act of omniscience. Jesus saw him under a fig tree. Jesus saw him under a fig tree. And Jesus says, you haven't seen anything yet. And look at verse 51. He said unto him, verily, verily, I say unto you, from here on you're going to see heaven open and you're going to see angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

What is this? In specific, he's saying this. Nathanael, you think you saw heaven, you think you saw divine power in that omniscience. From here on, you're going to see stuff going on all the time between heaven and earth. You're going to see heaven open and angels going up and down and the Son of Man working in response to heavenly power.

You're going to be exposed to heaven come down. That's what he said. And he was, miracle after miracle after miracle. And it may well be that Nathanael understood the glory of Christ better than anybody else. He never asks another question. He never frames another query.

He never even appears the rest of the time in the whole account. He was in solid like a rock at the start. So we meet Nathanael Bartholomew, the seeker of truth, prejudiced but not bound by it, honest, open, a man of prayer, a man of meditation, a man who made a complete surrender to Christ, a man with a keen mind and a heart of faith. He saw, he understood, and Jesus promised to him the most wonderful revelations.

And everything he saw from then on, he knew was heaven open, heaven open. Philip was never sure what it was. God uses slow, plodding, dull, thick, mechanical, analytical, weak faith, skeptics like Philip. And God uses great faith, clear understanding, meditative souls like Nathanael. You know what he does? He takes the raw material, and he transforms it into what he can use.

I wish I could tell you the story between Philip's training and his death. I bet it would be glorious because the Lord made him what he wanted him to be. The Lord can use any raw material that's available, and he's in the business of making the most out of the unqualified out of the unqualified. Can I ask you this in closing?

Do you qualify among the unqualified? Because if you do, the Lord wants to use you. Let's pray. Lord, again, we thank you for the fact that this is such a heartening word to us that you can use us in spite of ourselves, not as we are so much, but as you will make us and mold us and shape us. May we be willing to start out as learners, mathetes, disciples, to become apostles, trained to be sent for your glory.

In Christ's name, amen. The Master's Men Peter. He is in every list of the disciples at the head of the list. He is the preacher in the first part of the book of Acts. He is the guy who preached on the day of Pentecost when the church was founded.

Peter is this prominent, prominent preacher. He is this amazingly gifted man, and yet he turns right around and tries to turn the Lord away from the cross, and Jesus said, Get behind me, Satan. I mean, he went from being the voice of God to the voice of Satan.

Talk about flaws. And, of course, then the horrible time when he denied Jesus in three successive conversations in the courtyard of the high priest. So you can't even look at the New Testament without seeing the dominating force of this man called Peter, and you can't look at him without being struck by the fact that he had so many flaws and so many weaknesses.

And God has carried on his kingdom work throughout all of redemptive history through the lives of people who are less than perfect, a whole lot less than perfect. We've been mentioning a new book called 40 Lives in 40 Days. You may be kind of underestimating your own life.

This would be a great adventure for you. Read 40 Lives in 40 Days. People who were flawed, like Esther, Onesimus, Miriam, Mary Magdalene, James the brother of Jesus, Hannah, Ruth, Mark, Lydia, Jonathan, and find out that God used them, as you well know from Scripture, in mighty ways, not because they were perfect, but because they were faithful. 40 Lives in 40 Days. It's kind of in a devotional format, and you'll be able to look at these lives and see perhaps yourself reflected in their strengths and weaknesses. A great tool for personal family devotions, helpful questions at the end of each chapter to prompt further discussion. The title, again, 40 Lives in 40 Days, experiencing God's grace through the Bible's most compelling characters. Get a copy from Grace To You today.

If those ordinary people with their many shortcomings could become useful servants for the kingdom, you can too. This new book, 40 Lives in 40 Days, will help you see that. To purchase a copy, contact us today. Call our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, Even if you're familiar with many of the biblical characters in this book, you are sure to learn something new. Again, to pick up this brand new volume, 40 Lives in 40 Days, for yourself or for a friend, call 800-55-GRACE, or go to And friend, if I could ask a favor, call this radio station and let the people there know that you appreciate their commitment to biblical truth, to airing programs such as Grace To You. As sound Bible teaching becomes harder to find on the radio, stations like this one play a vital role in taking the gospel to communities across the United States and beyond. So as you are able, encourage them in this vital work. Thanks for doing that. And now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to watch Grace To You television this Sunday on DirecTV channel 378, or check your local listings for Channel and Times. And join us tomorrow when John continues to show you how God can use you no matter your past sins or weaknesses. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-19 10:08:16 / 2023-03-19 10:18:46 / 11

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