As for Nathanael, I am confident that every brother and sister in the Lord is familiar with him. Recently, through reviewing the story of how Nathanael recognized the Lord, I have found two paths of practice to welcome the Lord. Now I’d like to share them with you.
1. Harboring an Open-hearted Attitude
When the Lord Jesus came to do His work, He personally called Philip. After recognizing that Jesus was the Coming One foretold by the prophets, Philip wasted no time in telling the good news to his good friend—Nathanael. It’s recorded in the Bible, “Philip finds Nathanael, and said to him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said to him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael said to Him, From where know You me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered and said to Him, Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (John 1:45–49).
We can learn from these verses that when Philip testified the Lord Jesus to Nathanael, Nathanael had his own notions about the Lord Jesus, thinking that the Messiah should not have been born in Nazareth, a poor, backward and small village. Throughout the ages, none of prophets or famous people was born into Nazareth and it was looked down upon. However, when the Lord Jesus spoke to him, Nathanael did not stubbornly hold onto his own notions and imaginations, but humbly listened to the Lord Jesus’ words. When he heard the Lord Jesus say He saw Nathanael praying under the fig tree, he was shocked and felt that the Lord was omnipotent, that the Lord Jesus could examine his heart and soul, so Nathanael put down his own notions, acknowledged that the Lord Jesus was the prophesied Messiah, accepted and followed the Lord Jesus. It is because Nathanael was able to seek with an open heart instead of clinging to his own notions that he received the Lord Jesus’ salvation.
All sorts of disasters are happening now. If we want to welcome the Lord, we should harbor an open-hearted attitude as Nathanael did, just as what the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The Lord Jesus also prophesied, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). The Lord’s will is for us to be open-minded seekers. When we hear someone testifying the Lord’s return, we should imitate Nathanael, let go of our own notions and imaginings, proactively seek and investigate. If we sincerely seek and yearn for the Lord’s appearance, then He will surely lead us to find His footsteps and to welcome Him.
2. Paying Attention to Hearing God’s Voice Without Being Constrained by Anyone Else
That Nathanael was able to accept and follow the Lord Jesus is, in one regard, because of his open-hearted attitude, and in another regard, because he paid attention to hearing God’s voice without being constrained by anyone else. As we all know, when the Lord Jesus came to perform His work, He expressed many truths, teaching people to be forgiving and tolerant, to love their enemies, to forgive others seventy times seven times, to love others as themselves, and more. These truths could supply the needs of man’s life and show people the new path of practice, and the words of the Lord Jesus were authoritative and powerful. The Lord Jesus also performed many miracles and wonders, for example, quieting the stormy seas, raising the dead, feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, and so on. The Lord Jesus’ work and preaching at the time shook up the entire Jewish state. The chief persists, scribes and Pharisees knew very well that the Lord Jesus’ words and work had authority and power, but they had no heart to seek or investigate. Instead, they tried to find all kinds of accusations against the Lord Jesus, and spread all kinds of lies, accusations, slander, and blasphemy against Him, preventing believers from listening to the Lord Jesus’ sermons. As a result, many Jewish believers just blindly obeyed them without any discernment at all, went along with them in resisting and condemning the Lord Jesus, and finally lost the Lord’s salvation. However, Nathanael was not deceived by the Pharisees. When he heard the Lord Jesus’ words, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47), and “Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (John 1:48), he knew then that the Lord was the coming Messiah, because even though the Lord Jesus had never met him before, He still knew that he was praying silently, and said that he was without artifice. It occurred to Nathanael that only God can examine man’s hearts; common people entirely lack that ability, that authority. So then he recognized the Lord Jesus as the coming Messiah and followed the Lord as His disciple.
Now in the last days, we should be like Nathanael, not falling under anyone’s control but focusing on hearing God’s voice. Only thus will we receive the Lord. The Lord Jesus has told us long ago, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). It is prophesied in many places in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation that: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” And Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” We can see that when the Lord Jesus returns in the last days, He will express His words, the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches. At the news of the Lord Jesus’ return, we should proactively seek and investigate according to the Lord’s words and listen for the voice of God—this is the only way to welcome the Lord.
The above is the inspiration I have gained from the story of Nathanael. Hopefully it will help you welcome the Lord’s return.