Focus on Jesus Series
Of Figs and Family
by Ed Vasicek
In John 1, when Jesus speaks of Nathaniel under the fig tree, it makes sense to postulate that Nathaniel (Bartholomew) had been meditating on the life of Jacob and his vision of the stairway to heaven. Here’s why:
|Jacob was known as the supplanter, the trickster, the false face; he stole Esau’s birthright (Genesis 27). His name was changed to “Israel” (Genesis 32:28).||To Nathaniel, Jesus said, “Here is an Israelite in whom is nothing false.”|
|Jacob had a vision of a stairway to heaven in which he saw angels ascending and descending; he saw a vision of God at the top (Genesis 28:12-13a).||In John 1:51, Jesus addressed Nathaniel and said, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”|
Many people are surprised at the family relations in the early church. The Apostles James and John were brothers, as were Andrew and Simon Peter.
Philip and Nathaniel (Bartholomew) were close friends. Friendship and relationship still provides for the most fertile ground for evangelism.
Eleven of the twelve Apostles were from Jesus’ region of Galilee (Northern Israel); only one was from Judea (southern Israel where Jerusalem was). He was Judas Iscariot, the treasurer of the group and the betrayer of Jesus.
Jesus was miraculously conceived of Mary. His Father was truly God the Father. After Jesus was born (he is called Mary’s firstborn son), Mary and Joseph had four sons and several daughters (Matthew 13:55-56). The Bible tells us that his brothers did not believe in Him till after the Resurrection (John 7:5, I Corinthians 15:7). Two of those brothers, James and Jude, wrote Bible books bearing their names.
The Bible implies that Jesus’ brother James led the Jerusalem church until his death. Historical sources tell us that the next leader was Simeon, Jesus’ cousin. Thirteen other pastors led this church until the Bar Kochba revolt of 135 A.D. Then the relatives of Christ were persecuted because they were part of the Davidic line.
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