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Jesus Affirms the Faith of Men and Women.

When a sinner meets the Lord it isn’t just coming together of two persons. Throughout this lesson I have emphasized with examples from both the Old Testament and the New Testament different people with different backgrounds who met the Master and how their lives were changes. Interwoven within these narratives we see the God-man who is very interested in the person - not merely interested in another convert, but that person as an individual. Jesus stated that His mission was to seek and to save the lost. Footnote    Part of His ministry also included healing the sick, especially casting out demons. Footnote Along the way He made friends but the aim of His earthly mission was, of course the Cross, to live a life of obedience to His Heavenly Father, and to come into contact with as many men and women so that they could be brought in right relationship with Himself. Nathanael was an exception in Jesus’ ministry but a very important one - the affirmation of one’s faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Nathanael, the Old Testament Believer meets Jesus Christ.

Here is a wonderful example of an Old Testament believer in Jehovah who easily accepted his Lord, Jesus Christ.

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. [46] And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. [47] 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. [50] Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. John 1:45-50

Jesus' evaluation of Nathanael. Jesus was preaching the Good News about the Kingdom of God. It must have been that Jesus was covering other subjects - probably answering questions as was customary of Rabbis. Nathanael was already declared righteous after the manner of his forefather, Abraham and, as such, was righteous in the sight of God. Hence, the comment "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" A statement that stands out in stark contrast with Jesus’ evaluation of the religious leaders of the day. Those He called hypocrites and other uncomplimentary terms. Footnote Jesus statement goes deeper than a statement that Nathanael was an honest man. Footnote This was a statement that he was under the saving grace of Jehovah just as Abraham was. The issue was that Nathanael had not yet met Jesus, the Christ. Nathanael’s statement was all inclusive and taken from the Old Testament. No doubt scriptures such as Isaiah 9:6-7 were memorized in his regenerate mind and the application was easy through his observation of the Lord and the application:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. [7] Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6, 7.

Concerning the law of Moses, the application was easy. A mighty prophet was predicted who was going to be greater than Moses - Jesus was that Prophet - again, the application was easy for Nathanael:

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; [18] I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. Deut. 18:15, 18

This was an Old Testament regenerate mind in action - the application was easy. No doubt Nathanael has heard of John, the Baptist’ preaching - indeed, Nathanael might have been a follower of John. Many had kept on following John even after Jesus had come on the scene as the "...Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world..." But Nathanael was quick to see the need of associating himself with Jesus and so his response was quick: "... Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." This was going to cost Nathanael later on but that was not the issue - he had found the Messiah / King - the Son of God and he was eager to declare his faith in Jesus. Nathanael was no secret Christian. Later on Jesus said of the unregenerate who wished to associate themselves with Christ but lacked the power of the Holy Spirit to confess His Lordship in their lives with this statement: Matthew 10:32-33 "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. [33] But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." No timidity here - Nathanael had found the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and boldly placed his allegiance on the side of righteousness.

Jesus meets The Canaanite Women of Faith.

And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. [23] But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. [24] But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [25] Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. [26] But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. [27] And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. [28] Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. Matthew 15:22-28.

What a wonderful example of faith in the Lord. It is also an example of some of our prayers that seem to go unanswered. This woman had heard of Jesus the Messiah and had placed her hope in Him even though she had no background in Jewish faith. This is a tremendous lesson on how there are many people who live in the most unlikely places who have heard the Gospel no matter how sketchy or no matter how humble the messenger and had placed her faith in Jesus as her Lord. Look at her confession! "... Lord, thou Son of David..." This was a woman from a heathen country and yet she seemed versed in the Old Testament scriptures. It is clear to me that she had exposed herself to the Old Testament and had placed her hope in the Messiah as the light of the Gentiles Footnote - such was the faith of this Gentile woman.

What ensues is most interesting and reveals the mind of this woman. Jesus appears to ignore her in her insistent request but she does not give up. She keeps on pleading for the healing of her daughter. This is not the sign-seeking request of many of the apostate Jews but a genuine request of the Lord of Lord whom she had grown to understand from the Old Testament. In her limited understanding of the Old Testament she thought her request was a reasonable one Footnote albeit unusual in view of the fact that she as a Gentile, and as such, was viewed as an unclean person and should not come in contact with a Jew. Yet her faith persisted: "...Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me..." Now she presses Jesus to the matter. Her faith needed affirmation - her daughter was demon-possessed - she had no other place to turn to. She understood that the Lord was a merciful Lord so she "pressed the court" - her faith was unflagging. Truly the Lord was a merciful Lord - truly He was compassionate. There was no question in her mind that this was the Lord, Himself. The way the narrative seems to developed, some time had gone by and finally she cast herself down - prostrate before Him and continuously worshiped him: Footnote "...Lord, be helping me!" Footnote

Jesus now finally speaks to her but not in the way most Christians would expect their prayers to be answered. He uses a play on words with a word picture which seemed to be an answer in the negative. The Jews considered the Gentiles like the dogs of the orient - wild, unclean in every way - basically a pest that should be gotten rid of. But they did have dogs as pets who knew where to be at supper time. He said: "...It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs..." She could have taken offence to this and left in disappointment and bitterness but she understood a practice that frequently happened at suppertime, a practice not unlike the experience of our household. Years ago when our children were small we had a dog called "Sandy." Sandy had a voracious appetite and had adopted a stealth mode tactic during supper. It's hard to believe this but some of what was served at the table was not appreciated by some of our children so they developed this technique where when the parents (that us) weren't looking they would surreptitiously slip an occasional morsel to Sandy who would quickly do two things - gulp it down in one quick motion and then assume an innocent look of having done nothing wrong, being careful not to lick his chops. Well, this must have been a timeless practice because the woman (perhaps with a smile inwardly) picked up on Jesus' reference to this practice and replied: "...Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table..." Jesus eventually did go to her neighborhood Footnote but this faith was to be rewarded now - He responds to her faith as He answers her: "... O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour..." Such faith was a rarity in Israel Jesus touches this woman's faith with answered prayer - perhaps not in the way one would expect but her faith was affirmed and her daughter was healed.

The affirmation of our faith is very important. A daily study of God's Word is absolutely imperative. Then there is the uplifting ministry of fellow believers. We need to reflect our Lord in build up and encouraging each other's faith.

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