The time has come for Jesus Christ to take centre stage in John's life-changing drama: it would justify the title of 'the greatest story ever told'. In all four of the Gospels the writers are gifted at setting scenes, it is easy to see in your mind's eye, Jesus walking through Galilee and, like the Pied Piper, collecting followers! We can note immediately that John the Baptist was a Rabbi, that is a Jewish teacher who had adherents, and that he demonstrated by his actions as well as his words that he was willing to become less as Jesus became greater. Interestingly, we can observe that Jesus begins His ministry as He continued it by not giving away much, by asking questions rather than give answers and by encouraging relationship rather than brushing inquirers off.
We may have wondered why there are four Gospels and I have seen attempts to bind them into one. John is distinctly different in his writing about Jesus as before John introduces the reader to the first disciples there is no heavenly voice identifying Jesus, no reference to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, no preaching about the Kingdom of God, no teaching in synagogues or healing and no call for disciples; they do the work, not Him! Jesus has said almost nothing and it could appear that He is hidden and aloof, depending on how you read v 38, 39. So, in John's account these first disciples are characterised by their initiative, they are not put off by Christ's silence or seeking to break it with endless questions. They have heard a little about this man from John the Baptist or from a close friend and they are willing to be humbly receptive to what He has to say.
Now a few words about Nathaniel. Despite his apparent initial scepticism he quickly declares Jesus to be the Messiah. Why this transformation? It appears to be firstly because of what Jesus says to him about his name and secondly because he is a man of complete integrity (NLT) as Jesus states. This is a man whose scepticism does not lead to rejection, but to acceptance because he is honest and clear-sighted! He is the sort who seeks God before all else.
This is a challenge to our accepted evangelical model that we are helpless sinners whom God has to do everything to bring to salvation. There are those who are receptive and keen, as these early disciples were. Another challenging sentence can be found in Luke 8 v 4-15, the very familiar parable of the sower finishes with Jesus declaring...''The seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God's Word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.''Think about that!