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Dealing With Doubt? (1 of 12)

Meet Jesus

Jerry Vines

John 1:45-51


If you are dealing with doubt, then you need to meet

Jesus. In John 1 I have taken a scene from the life of

our Lord which I think will address this particular


Life is a series of problems. If you do not have a

problem this morning, just hang around, before it's

over you are going to have a problem. All people are

in one of three stages when it comes to problems. They

are either coming out of the problem, in a problem, or

heading to a problem.  Life is a series of problems.

The good news about the Lord Jesus Christ is that to

know Jesus Christ as your Savior gives you access to

Someone who is the great problem-solver. I do not know

what problem you may be experiencing today, but

whatever that problem may be, ultimately and

fundamentally, when you get down to the root of the

matter, you will discover that Jesus Christ is able to

help you with that particular problem.

One of the problems I'm going to deal with this

morning (and I'll be dealing with a number of them in

the weeks ahead) is the problem of doubt or

skepticism. There are many people filled with

skepticism and doubt in the world in which we live. 

In some ways it is a part of our training. We have

been trained in our schools to think skeptically—to

think from a scientific perspective and to be

skeptical so that we get to the facts and know what

the facts may be.

That aura or that atmosphere of skepticism has bled

over into religious life and there are many people

today who are dealing with the problem of doubt.

Somebody has said that doubt is a swinging bridge

between faith and unbelief. Faith says—I believe.

Doubt says—I'm not sure. Faith says—I trust. Doubt

says—I don't know.

Here is a man in the Bible who has a problem with

skepticism or doubt. His name is Nathanael. The

indications from the words of the Lord about this man

Nathanael are that he was indeed a doubter, but he was

also a sincere doubter. There are many people who are

not sincere in their doubts. Many times intellectual

doubts are merely a cover for an immoral lifestyle.

Some people throw out a few doubts because they are

trying to cover over the kind of life they are living.

That's not really the problem at all. But evidently

Nathaniel was one of those sincere doubters.

Somebody said that doubt is either the agony of some

earnest soul or it is the trifling superficial doubt

of a superficial fool.

The name, Nathanael, means "gift of God."  I don't

know if his parents gave that to him out of hope that

he would indeed be a gift to the world.  Or out of

hope that he would be a special gift to them from God.

When you get to Matthew, Mark, and Luke you don't find

the name Nathanael. You do find the name Bartholomew.

Most people believe that Nathanael and Bartholomew are

names for the same man. Nathanael does not appear much

in the Bible. He appears on the first page of the book

of John and the last page. In chapter 1, he makes his

cameo appearance and in chapter 21 he gives his final

curtain call. But he is a man that has a message for

you and for me this morning. He is a man who shows us

that if you have a problem—what you need is to meet

Jesus. Jesus can help you with your problem today—

whatever that problem may be.

I want to call you attention, first of all to—


In verse 45 it says, "Philip finds Nathanael."  That

is a train in a series of events in chapter 1 about

people who are meeting the Lord Jesus. There were two

disciples who came to Jesus and said, "Where do you

live?"  And Jesus said, "Come and see."  One of those

men came and told Philip. Then the Lord came to Philip

and said, "Follow me."  Philip followed Him. He had

become a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and he is a

friend of Nathanael's.

It is a good friend who will do for you what Philip

did for Nathanael. If you have a friend who is talking

to you about the claims of Christ, you have a good

friend indeed. Many of you in this building today came

to know the Lord as your Savior because you had a

friend who loved you enough and cared enough about you

to introduce you to Jesus. Philip is a good friend. I

want to be a friend like that to people, don't you?  I

want to be the kind of friend to people who will tell

them about Christ and how Christ can meet the needs of

their life.

After Philip had found the Lord Jesus had a desire

that his friend, Nathanael, would come to know the

Lord Jesus Christ so he comes to Nathanael and lays

before him a prophetical announcement.

He says in verse 45, "We have found him." I can almost

sense the excitement in his voice. Then he says, "We

have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the

prophets, did write."  That is -we have found the one

that the Old Testament predicted was going to come.

Now, the Jewish people were looking for the coming of

the Messiah. In fact at this particular point in their

history they were desperate for the coming of the

Messiah because of the problems that they as a nation

and they as individual Jews were facing. They were

under the heels of the Roman Empire. Life was tough.

Taxation was strong. The economy was shaky. They

desperately needed someone who could help them with

their problems. Philip says, We have found Him—the one

that the Old Testament predicted.

The Old Testament had predicted the coming of the

Messiah. Moses had talked about him like the serpent

on the pole, to whom people could look and be saved.

The prophets had talked about him being virgin-born

and suffering for the sins of the whole world. So I

can imagine that Nathanael's heart jumped a beat when

he heard Philip say, "We have found him."

I have said to you and I'm going to say it again

today.  If you can find someone today who can help you

with the problems you are going through right now. I'm

sure that probably your heart would leap just a

little. Maybe there's just a little glimmer of hope I

can kindle in your heart this morning.

He is ready now for a letdown. Philip continues on and

says, "We have the one the Old Testament talked about,

Jesus of Nazareth."  When he heard that it just

punctured his balloon. Now, we have a skeptical answer

from Nathanael. When he heard that this Jesus who was

supposed to be the Messiah had come and that he was

from a place named Nazareth, it punctured his balloon

and he says in verse 46, "Can any good thing come out

of Nazareth?"  The last place in the world he expected

the Messiah to come from was Nazareth. Certainly the

last place he expected anybody to come from who could

help him with his problems was Nazareth.

In John 21:2 where Nathanael is mentioned for the last

time, we are told that Nathanael was from Cana. Cana

was about five miles from Nazareth. They were

neighboring towns. What you may have here is a little

local prejudice and jealousy.

How many of you came from a small town? Raise your

hand. I came from a small town. We know all about that

local prejudice and jealousy, don't we? I remember

when I was playing football we had a number of other

little towns around us who were rivals. One of the

biggest rivals of all was Bowden.  The week before we

were going to play Bowden one of the well-to-do men in

our town, Mr. Cole, came over to practice. I will

never forget it. He gathered the team together and

said, "Now, boys, we really want  you'll to beat

Bowden this Friday night. If you'll beat Bowden, I'm

going to buy everyone of you a steak supper.  I was a

seventeen-old boy and I had never had a steak in my

life. That was something almost unimaginable. He just

set us on fire. You would have thought he said he

would give us all a Mercedes.  We played like we had

never played before. I have a picture in my high

school annual of me eating my first steak. I ate it

all and licked the plate. It was something. That's how

bad they wanted to beat that neighborhood rival.

It may be that there is a little local prejudice going

on.  "Our town is better than your town."  There is

some of that that still goes around in the faith

today. There are some people that have problems and

they are not getting any answers to the problems

because they are allowing some of their prejudices and

jealousies to take over.

There are some folks right here in this town and they

say, "I would go up to that church, but those folks

don't come from the same part of town I come from." 

The fact of the matter is—our church people come from

every section of the city of Jacksonville.  I kind of

like it where people come to a church from every part

of the town. As I understand the New Testament, the

church is to be a place where people can come wherever

they may live; whatever their social status may be.

Some folks say, "They are not my social status at that

church and they didn't go to the schools I did." 

Friends, a hungry man can't be particular where he

gets his bread. A thirsty man cannot be particular

where he gets his water.  Don't let prejudice in your

heart keep you from coming to the place where you can

get an answer to your problems.

There's another thing about it. The fact of the matter

is—Nazareth was a bad place. It was located up on a

hillside. I've been to Nazareth many times. Down below

was one of the main highways where merchants and

soldiers were constantly passing and very often they

would stay in Nazareth for the night. You can almost

imagine what a center of corruption Nazareth had

become. You can almost imagine what a cesspool of

pollution Nazareth was. It had a bad reputation.

Have you ever thought about it? Jesus Christ lived the

overwhelming majority of His life—33 years of life—in

a place called Nazareth, a despised town. There He was

unrecognized, unknown, unhonored. Don't anybody ever

worry about where you came from. It is not where you

came from that matters; it's where you are going that

matters. "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"

Nathanael becomes a doubter. He becomes a skeptic. He

is raising a skeptical question. Some of you have a

problem of doubt this morning. There are all kinds of

doubters. There are all kinds of skeptics.

You may be the scientific skeptic.  You have decided

that Jesus has to get into your test-tube and submit

Himself to your tests before you will ever believe.

Or you may be a philosophical skeptic. You may have

decided that Jesus Christ has to conform to your ideas

of what He should and shouldn't be before you are

going to believe.

You may be a religious skeptic. You have your mind all

made up. It's amazing to me how people who don't know

anything about it—announce themselves authority on

religious matters. If you don't believe that true you

just go into homes and witness to people. They'll tell

you immediately what the Bible is all about, though

they have never read it. You may be a religious

skeptic and you may have decided that Jesus has to fit

into your little system. I have news for you. Jesus

Christ is bigger than Nazareth. Jesus was from

Nazareth; but Jesus was also from heaven. God was His

father. Divinity was His nature. Heaven was His home.

He's bigger than any Nazareth.

This old world is constantly wanting to confine Jesus

to Nazareth. They want to keep him back in the first

century, riding a donkey. I have news for you. The

Jesus of Nazareth is the Jesus of Jacksonville. He's

riding the streets of the city of Jacksonville. He can

solve modern problems whatever they may be.

The fact of the matter is—nothing good can come from

anywhere BUT Nazareth. Because Jesus came from

Nazareth and the only One who was ever good was the

Lord Jesus Christ.

We find the doubt he manifests. And Nathanael says to

Philip in verse 46, "Can any good thing come out of

Nazareth?"  Philip says to him, "Come and see." I like

that. He didn't argue with him.

There is a place, of course, for academic debate.

There is a place for apologetics in the Christian

faith. But on this occasion, Philip does not try to

deal with his doubts with philosophical or religious

arguments. He just basically says to him, "Come and


The real evidence is to have a meeting with Jesus.

Some of you really need to meet Jesus. You don't need

me to give you some argument.

I heard about an intellectual preacher who was

preaching a sermon to prove the existence of God. It

was a rather complicated sermon as you can imagine.

One sister in the church was having a hard following

his confusing arguments. When it was all over she

said, "Well, I just can't help but believing after all

he said that there's a God somehow."

Ladies and Gentlemen, what you need to do is have a

meeting with the Lord Jesus Christ and all your doubts

can be solved and all your doubts can be settled. Give

Jesus a chance. You've tried everything else. Give

Jesus a chance. You've got yourself in a big mess. You

have problems that you cannot solve. Give Jesus a

chance. "Come and see." That's what Philip says.


Nathanael goes with Philip to meet Jesus and in verse

47 Jesus sees Nathanael coming to Him. Here they come.

Here is Nathanael and in front of him he see Jesus of

Nazareth, but more than that he sees deity in human

flesh. Jesus says to him, "Behold an Israelite indeed

in whom is no guile."

The Lord Jesus, in saying that, just reveals His

deity. You could translate the word, guile, as Jacob.

It may be that Nathanael had recently been studying

the life of Jacob. I said that his name in the first

three gospels is Bartholomew. When you see, bar, that

means son of. Son of Tholomew. Tholomos. There was a

group called the Tholomans who had dedicated

themselves to the study of the Scriptures.  He may

have been one of those. Perhaps, undoubtedly, he had

been reading about the life of Jacob. In Genesis 27,

when you read about the life of Jacob, you will find

that Jacob was a schemer. He was a rascal. You've

heard of the singing group Rascal Flat; he was Rascal

Jacob. He was a rascal. He was a heel-snatcher. He was

a schemer. Jesus looked at Nathanael and said, "An

Israelite in whom there is no Jacob."  It is a great

compliment to Nathanael because Jesus is basically

affirming the sincerity of this man Nathanael.

An Israelite means, "Ruled by God." Here's a man who

is under the authority of God. Here is a man, when he

gets the evidence, will believe the evidence. What you

have here is a revelation of the Lord's omniscience.

He calls him by name. He knows all about him. Here the

man comes up. First time Jesus, in the flesh, had ever

seen this man. He just says to him, "This man is an

Israelite. He's ruled by God. He's no Jacob. There's

not a false bone in his body." That's a tremendous


What about you? Do you have your doubts about it all?

What you need to do is meet Jesus who knows all about

you. Jesus knows just exactly where you are right now.

He knows just exactly where you are in your life. H e

knows what's going on in your life. He knows all about

you right now. He knows all about your past. "I don't

want anybody to know about my past."  Jesus knows all

about your past. He knows not only what's going on on

the outside of you, he knows what's going on on the

inside of you. He knows your doubts. He knows your

fears. He knows your failures. He knows your desires.

Jesus Christ has omniscience. He knows all about you.

In verse 48 Nathanael says, "how do you know me?"

Watch it. It just shocks Nathanael. Jesus said to him

in verse 48, "Before Philip called you."  Isn't that

interesting? He had already gone ahead of Philip.

You are witnessing to somebody. Before you ever got

there, Jesus was there. You are talking to somebody

about the Lord and you think is brand new stuff—Jesus

has already been ahead of you. He's already been

working in that person's heart. He's already been

working in that person's life circumstances.

Many stories came out of our Pastors' Conference. A

group of pastors went to a restaurant here in town and

they were witnessing to the waiter, talking to him

about his relationship to the Lord. He said, "You

know, I've accepted the Lord." They said, "Tell us

about it." He said, "You know that First Baptist

Church downtown? I was watching it on television. My

life was all messed up. I was dating the wrong kind of

girl. I had an old beat up car. One Sunday, that

preacher prayed a prayer and he said, I got down on my

knees and I prayed that prayer with the preacher. Now,

I have me a good girl. I have me a better car. My life

has completely turned around."

That's what Jesus can do. He's already running ahead

of us. Isn't that marvelous?  "Before Philip called

you, I saw you under the fig tree."  Evidently that

fig tree was in a garden Nathanael had. It was

evidently a quiet place of meditation and rest and

refreshment and relaxation. Now, Jesus is revealing

not only His omniscience—he knew all about Nathanael.

He's revealing His omnipresence. He was saying,

Nathanael, when you were under that fig you didn't

know it, son, but I was right there with you.

Is God at work over yonder somewhere? God is at work

everywhere. There ain't nowhere where God ain't.

That's not good grammar, but it's real good theology.

God is everywhere. God is omnipresent. Listen to what

the psalmist said in Psalm 139. "Whither shall I go

from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy

presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there.

If I make my bed in hell, thou art there. If I take

the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost

parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me

and thy right hand shall uphold me."  God is

everywhere. You can't hide from God. It's useless to


Jonah found out you can't run from God. Adam and Eve

found out you can't run from God. They were hiding

behind a tree. The Lord said, "Where art thou?" He

knew exactly where they were. God knows where you are.

You can't run from God anymore.

The deity he meets.  The reason I want you to meet

Jesus Christ is because when you meet Jesus Christ you

meet deity. You meet God.


"Nathanael answered and said unto him, Rabbi, thou art

the king of Israel."

I want you to see something. In two minutes time, here

is a man whose doubts are settled and solved. He makes

a quantum leap in two minutes that completely changes

his life.

You've come here tonight. You don't plan to do

anything. Make any kind of decision. You are going to

get in and out and go on your way. What you need to do

is do what Nathanael did and make the greatest

decision of your life.

Notice what he says about Jesus. He's convinced. His

doubts are settled. "Thou art the son of God."  That

is, he crowns Him as the king of the universe. "Thou

art the king of Israel." He crowns Him as the king of

the future. He acknowledges His deity. He acknowledges

His destiny. He is basically saying, "You are

everything they say you are. You are everything you

claim to be. In that confession, this doubter who has

now become a believer, this man seals his own destiny

for all eternity.

"Jesus said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw

thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt

see greater things than these." Then he goes back to

the life of Jacob. In verse 51 he makes a reference to

an experience Jacob had when he was a teenage boy.

If there was ever a time decisions need to be made,

it's when you are a teenager. Some of the most

important decisions of your life are made when you are 

a young person. I daresay the most important decision

of your life. The decision to receive Christ as your

Savior. The decision about what kind of friends you

are going to associate with. The decision about what

you are going to do in life. The decisions about where

you are going to school and get your education. I

presume that the greatest decisions, for the most part

of a person's life, are made while they are young.

Jacob was just a teenage boy running. That night he

went to sleep with a stone for a pillar. That night he

had a vision and there was a ladder that was set down.

On that ladder he saw the angels of God ascending and

descending. Ascending, as if the angels were going

back to glory and telling heaven all of the sad, heart

rending things taking place on this earth. Descending

from heaven with God's solutions and God's answers and

God's power to meet the situation.  Jacob saw that

ladder and said, "Behold, this is the gate of heaven."

He understood that this ladder connected heaven and

earth. Jesus is saying to Nathanael, "Nathanael, I'm

the ladder. I saw you under that fig tree. That fig

tree told me about you and sin. But I am the ladder

because the ladder tells about another tree. It tells

about the cross where I died on that cross for your

sins. I'm the ladder."  And he said to him, "You'll

see greater things than this."  And he did.  He became

a disciple of Jesus—a follower of the Lord.

I hope many of you will become a follower of the lord

this morning. He saw the time when Jesus Christ died

on the cross. He saw the time when Christ ascended

back to heaven. Like you and I, he will see the time

when Christ will come again with the holy angels. Oh,

he lights a lamp of hope for the future. When you come

to Christ, not only can He help you with your problems

right now, but He can help you with the problems of

your future.

I don't know what your problems are. I don't know what

dimension they may take. I don't know what shape they

may take.  But if you will meet Jesus, if you will

open up your heart and your life and receive Jesus,

whatever the problems of the future may bring, Christ

has greater things than these to give to you.

I want to close with this statement of Philip in verse

46. "Philip saith unto him, Come and see."  That's one

of the great words in the Bible—COME. All through the

Bible God issues that invitation. How simple it is to

know Christ as your Savior. You come. How simple it is

to have someone in your life who can help you with

life's problems. God says, Come. How simple it is to

be forgiven of your sin and to know Christ as Savior

and to know that heaven is your home. God's word to

you, this morning, is Come.

I'm going to ask that we bow our heads.

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