John 1:51
Then He declared, "Truly, truly, I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
Angels Ascending and DescendingJ. Fawcett, M. A.John 1:51
Heaven OpenedT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 1:51
Jesus a Ladder to HeavenJohn 1:51
The First Verily, Verily, -- the Home of the New ManA. Jukes, M. A.John 1:51
The Positiveness of JesusNewman Smyth, D. D.John 1:51
The Verilies of ChristA. Jukes, M. A.John 1:51
The Verilies of Christ Teach Us Three LessonsA. Maclaren, D. D.John 1:51
VerilyA. Maclaren, D. D.John 1:51
Andrew and JohnT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 1:35-51
John and JesusJohn 1:35-51
Small BeginningsA. F. Schauffler.John 1:35-51
The Apostle AndrewD. Thomas, D. D.John 1:35-51
The Beginnings of the Christian ChurchBishop Ryle.John 1:35-51
The Early DisciplesSermons by the Monday ClubJohn 1:35-51
The First DiscipleA. Raleigh, D. D.John 1:35-51
The First Disciples, or Sons of the LightT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 1:35-51
The First Five DisciplesC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:35-51
The First Five DisciplesJ. Spence, D. D.John 1:35-51
The First Utterances of the WordJ. W. Burn.John 1:35-51
The Law of Christian IncreaseP. H. Hoge.John 1:35-51
The Redeemer Choosing DisciplesSchleiermacher.John 1:35-51
The Soul Sought by Christ, and Seeking HimBp. Huntington.John 1:35-51
Three Ways to the LordK. Gerok, D. D.John 1:35-51
Bringing Companions to ChristJohn 1:44-51
Finding Christ the Great TreasureT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.John 1:44-51
How to Learn the Excellence of ChristT. Islip.John 1:44-51
Judge not a Man by His SurroundingsG. F. Green.John 1:44-51
NathanaelD. Thomas, D. D.John 1:44-51
NathanaelJ. Hambleton, M. A.John 1:44-51
NathanaelW. Jay.John 1:44-51
Nathanael and BartholomewJohn N. Norton.John 1:44-51
Nathanael's PrejudiceA. Maclaren, D. D.John 1:44-51
Nathanael's Prejudice and ConfirmationA. Beith, D. D.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelA. Maclaren, D. D.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelBp. Ryle.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelA. Beith, D. D.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelH. Melvill, B. D.John 1:44-51
Testimony BearingH. O. Mackey.John 1:44-51
The Character of NathanaelJ. Leifchild, D. D.John 1:44-51
The Communicativeness of the GospelDr. Lake.John 1:44-51
The Power of PrejudiceJohn N. Norton.John 1:44-51
The Power of PrejudiceH. G. Trumbull, D. D.John 1:44-51
The Preaching of PhilipLange.John 1:44-51
The Proverbial Disrepute of NazarethS. S. TimesJohn 1:44-51
We have FoundPascal.John 1:44-51
Jesus and NathanaelD. Young John 1:45-51
The Candid DiscipleJ.R. Thomson John 1:45-51
The Guileless InquirerB. Thomas John 1:45-51
Believing and SeeingA. Maclaren, D. D.John 1:50-51
Israel and the IsraeliteT. Gasquoine, B. A.John 1:50-51
The Dawn of Faith and its ConsummationE. L. Hull, B. A.John 1:50-51
The First PromiseW. B. Pope, D. D.John 1:50-51
The Glory of the MediatorJ. H. Hill.John 1:50-51

This was the proper counsel for Philip to give to Nathanael, and forevery true friend to give to the man whose mind is possessed with incredulity or with prejudice regarding Christ and his claims. Reasoning is very well; but an appeal to personal experience is in many cases far better. Many a man will draw a just inference for himself, which he will not allow another man to draw for him. In giving this advice Philip showed his knowledge of human nature.

I. COME AND SEE WHAT CHRIST IS. There are many persons who are indifferent to the Saviour only because they do not know him - because he is to them nothing but a name.

1. Study the record of his earthly ministry, and you will find that his character and life possess a peerless interest. Few have really read and studied the four Gospels without feeling themselves brought into contact with a Being altogether unrivalled in human history for qualities of the spiritual nature, for profundity of moral teaching, for self-sacrificing benevolence. And many have, by such study, been brought under a spell for which no ordinary principles could account, and have felt, not only that no personage in human history can rank with Christ, but that none cart even be compared with him.

2. Ponder the character, the claims, the acknowledged work, of Christ, and you will be convinced of his Divine nature and authority. Men who judge of him by hearsay, or by their own preconceptions, may think of Jesus as of an ordinary man; but this is not the case with those who "come and see," who allow him to make his own impression upon their minds. Such are found exclaiming, with the officers, "Never man spake like this Man!" with the disciples, "What manner of Man is this!" with Peter, "Thou art the Christ!" with this very Nathanael, to whom the words of the text were addressed, "Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel!" with the centurion at the Crucifixion, "Truly this was a righteous Man, this was the Son of God!"


1. This test - a very reasonable one - may be applied in individual cases. What did Christ effect for Saul of Tarsus? Did he not change him from a zealous and narrow formalist into a man whose name has become the synonym for spirituality of religion, for breadth and catholicity of doctrine, for grandeur of plan and of hope with regard to this ransomed humanity? Did he not find Augustine a wilful and pleasure-seeking young man, who almost broke a pious mother's heart? and did he not transform him into a penitent, a saint, a mighty theologian, a holy power in the realm of human thought? What did Christ do for Luther? He visited him when he was depressed and hopeless because of the conscience of sin, spoke to him the word of peace, called and strengthened him to become the Reformer of half Christendom, the founder of an epoch of light and liberty for mankind. Such instances, to be found in the annals of the illustrious and influential among men, might be multiplied. But it is not only over the great and famous that the Divine Jesus has exercised his power. Among the poorest, the meanest, the feeblest, nay, the vilest, he has proved himself to be the Friend of sinners and the Brother of man. There is no circle of society in any Christian land where evidences of this kind do not abound. You need not go far to see what the Lord Christ can do; this you may learn at your own doors, and every day.

2. But the educated and well informed have within their reach a wider range of proof. The history of Christendom is written in a vast, an open book - a book which the intelligent, and those capable of taking a wide survey of human affairs, are at liberty to read. Secular historians have traced the influence of Christianity upon society, upon the code of morals, upon slavery, upon war, upon the position of woman in society, upon the education of the young, upon the treatment of the poor, the sick, the afflicted. No doubt, exaggeration has often distinguished the treatment of these matters by Christian advocates. Yet, in all fairness and candour, it must be admitted that a contrast between unchristian and Christian society yields results immensely in favour of our religion. Christ has been the chief Benefactor of the human race, has done more than any beside to ameliorate and to improve the conditions and to brighten the prospects of mankind.

III. COME AND SEE WHAT CHRIST WILL DO FOR YOU. This is not a matter of speculation, but of practical moment and interest. It is well to form a just estimate of the character, the mission, the work, of the Son of God. But it is better to take the benefit which he offers to every believing hearer of his gospel.

1. See whether he can give you peace of conscience, by securing to you the pardon of sin, and acceptance with the God against whom you have sinned. This he professes to do; this multitudes will assure you he has done for them. If this is with you an urgent need, will it not be reasonable to put Christ to that test of experience to which he invites you?

2. See whether he can supply you with the highest law and the most sacred motive for the moral life. All human standards are imperfect, and no human principle is sufficient to ensure obedience. What no other can offer, the Saviour claims to impart, and it is reasonable to test his ability and his willingness to fulfil his promises.

3. See whether his fellowship and friendship can uphold and cheer you amidst the sorrows, temptations, and uncertainties of this earthly life. He says, "My grace is sufficient for you." Verify the assertion in your own experience. If he cannot supply this want, certain it is that none else can do so.

4. See whether the Lord Christ can vanquish death for you, and give you the assurance of a blessed immortality. Apart from him, the future is very dark; try his power to illumine that darkness with rays of heavenly light.


1. Defenders and promulgators of Christianity will do well to address to their fellow men the invitation Philip addressed to Nathanael. If they cannot always answer men's cavils and objections, and satisfy men's intellectual difficulties, they can bring men face to face with Christ himself, and leave the interview to produce its own effects. Let men be encouraged to come, to see, and to judge for themselves.

2. The undecided hearers of the gospel may well accept the challenge here given. Why should they shrink from it? It is an opportunity which should not be neglected, an invitation which should not he refused. - T.

Hereafter ye shall see the heaven open.
1. Nothing is more characteristic of our age than its questioning and doubt.(1) Science has opened many fields in all of which much is yet unsolved.(2) Philosophy has unsettled much that was once believed.(3) The growing complications of society force upon us questions to every one of which jarring answers are returned.(4) The Church is so divided that she is unable to guide herself, much less the world. Hence thousands are asking whether there can be any certainty for man.

2. There was another age which resembled ours — the age when the old-world civilizations broke up: when Greece and Rome were bankrupt, and when Israel's sun turned into darkness. In that dark age He came who could meet doubt with certain truth.

3. The Truth still lives who had and still has a message for a doubting age, and for those who received Him there was and is now certainty and rest.

4. This amen has altered some memorable amens — amens which He has marked with reiterated affirmations; the unusual form showing us —

(1)That we need light; and

(2)That He will not withhold the light we need.

5. The "Verily, verily" is only employed by John because he sets forth Christ in His higher relations, and therefore conveys transcendent truth that requires emphasis.

6. Not one of the verilies refers to the Church, but all refer to the peculiar forms of eternal life which are only outwardly manifested in the Church; and will survive its failure.

7. This revelation of eternal life is distinctive of St. John. The other apostles have each their special truth suited to some stage of the Church and individual.

(1)Paul's comes first, meeting us with words relative to our ruin and the righteousness which is by faith.

(2)James meets our advancing needs touching the moralities which belong to Christian doctrine.

(3)Peter comes next with words of our present suffering and future glory.

(4)Once mere we advance and come to John's witness to the new life which the sons of God are called to manifest.

8. It is this teaching of John's which the reiterated amens sum up, showing us the course and stages of eternal life in Christ. Twelve of these are distinguished.

(1)The home of the new man: heaven, long shut, is reopened (John 1:51).

(2)We enter this home by a new birth (John 3:3, 5).

(3)The law of the life of the new man (John 5:19-22).

(4)His meat (John 6:26-58).

(5)His liberty (John 8:31-35).

(6)His divinity (John 8:48-58).

(7)His service (John 10:1-18).

(8)His sacrifice and its results (John 12:24-26).

(9)His lowliness (John 13:1-32).

(10)His glory (John 14:8-14).

(11)His sorrow and joy (John 16:16-25).

(12)His perfecting (John 21:15-23).

(A. Jukes, M. A.)

I. AS TO THE AUTHORITY OF THE TEACHER. The Jews were astonished at His doctrine, for He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes, "which suggests a contrast with other teachers."

1. Put side by side with the autocratic ring of this "Verily, verily I say unto you," the formula of the prophets — "Thus saith the Lord."

2. Contrast again the bare utterance of His own word as a reason for our acceptance of His sayings with the teaching that was busy around Him. One rabbi says this and another that, and so on through all the wearisome Talmud. They drew their authority from their faithfulness to tradition. Christ steps forward as a fresh fountain of certitude.

3. Contrast His teaching with the tone of modesty suitable to mere thinkers who have learned their truths. The philosopher may argue, Christ asserts. Now, what business has Christ to talk in this fashion and demand that I should take from His lips anything He chooses to say? The only answer is, that He is the Word, the Truth of God.

II. AS TO THE CERTITUDE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE LESSON. Other teachers have to say, "Peradventure," "This I deem to be true." Jesus says, "Most assuredly."

1. In our day of uncertainties and unsolved problems the world wants more than ever to listen to that voice. Much is dark and doubtful, but here at least is a central core of hard rock that no pressure can grind nor any force shift.

2. Think of the difference between the freshness and adaptation of Christ's words and the film of old-fashioned untimeliness which has crept over all other ancient utterances, and say what is the secret of this immortal youth. It is because they are free from all admixture of human limitation and transitoriness, and so fit every generation, and are to every generation the source of certitude.

3. Classify the utterances to which this formula is attached, First, those which refer to Himself. He asserts —

(1)His Divine nature (John 8:58).

(2)His absolute unity of being and identity of action with the Father (John 5:19).

(3)His place as the medium of all communication between earth and heaven (John 1:61).

(4)That He is the way by which all men enter the fold of God (John 10:7).

(5)That He is the infallible Teacher (John 3:11).

(6)That He is the God-given source of life (John 6:32).

(7)The certain granting of all prayers offered in His name (John 16:23).

(8)The necessity for His death, that His mission may be accomplished (John 12:24).Secondly, those which refer to us,

(1)Union by faith with Him is the condition of our life (John 6:58; John 8:51; John 5:24).

(2)The necessity of a new nature ere we can see or enter the kingdom (John 3:3, 6).

(3)The promise of our complete assimilation and conformity with Him on condition of our faith (John 13:16, 20; John 14:12).Thirdly, those which contain predictions of a near or remote future which could only be made from supernatural knowledge (John 13:21; John 16:20; John 13:38; John 21:18).Fourthly, those which lay bare to men the hidden foulness of their nature (John 6:26; 8:84).


1. Verily implies that they to whom it was addressed had dull ears, whose languid attention needed to be stimulated, or that the words which He was going to utter were too great to be easily believed, or too unwelcome to be swiftly accepted.

2. It is a warning against prejudice and sluggish apathy.

3. It is a solemn appeal to us to permit no indifference to come between us and His Word. Two things are required of us as His scholars.

1. That which it is degradation to give to man, but which is blasphemy to withhold from Christ. "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."

2. The absolute certitude of His messsge has for its correlative our unwavering steadfastness.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

1. The first question of the Old Testament is, "Where art thou?" — God's question to fallen man. The first of the New is, "Where is He?" — asked by men who have just been awakened to feel their need of a Saviour. God's question reveals man's state that he is not where God placed him; man's question draws forth the purpose of God's heart, that, fallen as we are, He is with us, our Tabernacle.

2. This first verily teaches both these truths. Heaven, man's proper home, long shut, is now opened, and that all man has lost shall be restored through the Heir, "the Son of man." The old man by disobedience lost his home; the New Man comes back again to the opened heavens as His dwelling-place.

3. These words were spoken by one who had just had heaven open to Him, and He comes forth to tell men how they are to enter.

4. Heaven is not far off; it is the spirit-world which is lost or shut only to the natural man. What will be manifested at death may be anticipated here.

5. Take some examples of this "opened heaven."(1) That which took place at Christ's baptism. This is fulfilled to Christ's members. The Spirit like a dove abides on them; for the mark of the beast is gone, and the voice from heaven proclaims their sonship.(2) Christ's transfiguration is recorded to teach a communion with saints who are not far from us. But this blessing is not without its peril, inasmuch as it awakens in imperfect disciples thoughts which if followed out would give to creatures a place and honour which belongs to God alone. Hence Peter wanted three tabernacles; but is called back to "Jesus only" by the voice, "This is My beloved Son," etc.(3) Peter's vision (Acts 10:9-16), which taught him that we should call no man common or unclean.(4) John's visions in the Apocalypse, revealing the glory of the Son of man and the endless bliss of His brethren.

6. Whenever man's true home is opened the servants (angels) also are seen, ever near.

(1)Ministering to man's wants (1 Kings 19:5, 6).

(2)Directing his steps (Genesis 16:9).

(3)Barring his way if he turns aside from God (Numbers 22:24-26).

(4)Present in the assemblies of believers (1 Corinthians 11:10).

(5)Specially related to little children (Matthew 18:10).

(6)Rejoicing over repenting sinners (Luke 15:10).

(7)Ministering: to the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14).

(A. Jukes, M. A.)

This expression is one of the signs and evidences of the originality of Jesus Christ. It occurs more than seventy times, and was a characteristic which separated His conversation from that of other men. There were and are examples enough of mere dogmatism.

1. The scribes, whether of theology or science, will open their books and say, "It is written," and that is the end of all controversy.

2. The bigot will hold fast to the letter of his creed and anathematize all who do not hold it.

3. Ignorance will stand firm upon tradition and swear to all passers by, "I know." Everywhere there has lived the man who could not be mistaken.But the assurance of Jesus Christ was wholly different.

1. Nor was it like the positiveness of the prophets of old who proclaimed, "Thus saith the Lord."

2. Nor like the confidence of the philosopher in his reasonings, the naturalist in his verifications. Christ's verilies precede rather than conclude His teachings. He gave no demonstrations.

3. Nor with the religious faiths of His disciples. Faith is for us an achievement, and after the struggle Jesus comes and says"believe." But no Christ came to Jesus, nor is there in His positiveness any trace of conflict. He believed spontaneously and directly out of His own consciousness of God. This positiveness marked Christ's teaching from the beginning when He spoke to His mother in the Temple; and never afterwards was there a hesitating note. This peculiar quality appears when we reflect on the subjects on which He was absolutely sure. They are those on which other men are not sure.(1) His verilies have nothing to do with natural truths which we can discover or demonstrate.(2) Nor with matters of history which scholars may search out.(3) Nor with such things as Sanhedrims wrangle over.(4) But with vital, spiritual, eternal truths not otherwise discoverable by man.Learn, then:

1. That over against all our human ignorance, sinfulness, and need, the gospel is one grand affirmation of God; an assertion of those things of which we most need to be made sure.

2. If we want true hearts and strength to do and dare; if we would learn the secret of cheerful, patient lives; if we wish to live with all our souls for noble purpose, and with great faiths and immortal hope, there is a verily waiting to impart to us its power and its peace.

3. Christian unity is only to be realized upon the high plane of this positiveness, and along the lines of those great spiritual affirmations.

4. There is some verily speaking to each at all times and everywhere.

(Newman Smyth, D. D.)

I. A CERTAIN FACT: Christ has come forth.

II. A BLESSED GOSPEL: Christ's appearing a manifestation of Divine grace.

III. A JOYOUS HOPE: Christ's coming forth suggests the possibility of man's going in.

IV. A GLORIOUS PREDICTION: the reinstitution of fellowship between earth and heaven predicts the assimilation of the former to the latter.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

is simply the familiar "amen!" which properly is an adjective meaning firm or steadfast, and is used in two connections. Sometimes it precedes an assertion which it confirms, in which case it may be paraphrased by "Thus it certainly is." Sometimes it follows a prayer which it sums up and reiterates, and in that case it may be paraphrased by "So may it be." Doubled it has the force of a superlative, "Most assuredly." It is heard only from the lips of Christ. It becomes no other lips.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Some of these angelic appearances had already taken place. An angel announced the conception of Christ to His mother. An angel, accompanied by a multitude of the heavenly host, proclaimed His birth to the shepherds, and after His temptation angels came and ministered to Him. These instances of angels descending on the Son of man had taken place before this period, and Nathanael knew them not; but there remained other manifestations of the same kind, which were yet to be afforded. An angel appeared to Him, and strengthened Him in His agony. At His resurrection an angel rolled away the stone from His sepulchre, and two angels sat, the one at the head, the other at the feet where the Lord had lain. And, lastly, angels attended His ascension, and as an angel had announced His first coming, so angels foretold to the witnesses of this great event that the same Jesus who had been parted from them should come again in like manner as they had seen Him go up into heaven.

(J. Fawcett, M. A.)

To the north of Scotland lies an island called Bressay. It is one of the Shetland Islands, and its shores are very rocky. On the south coast of Bressay is a slate-quarry. The workmen had to descend the cliff to it by means of a ladder. One evening, a violent and sudden storm drove the quarrymen from their work. The ladder was left fastened to the cliff. The night was very dark and stormy. A ship which was struggling with the waves was driven close to the island. Her crew beheld with terror the white foam of the breakers as they dashed against the rocks. They knew that, if their ship were stranded, they must be wrecked. Still the howling winds drove her forward. The waves dashed over her, filled the cabin with water, and drowned the wife of the captain. The sailors now climbed into the rigging. They were at the mercy of the furious wind and of the raging sea. They gave themselves up for lost. Many prayers and cries for deliverance were uttered. On came the ship, and struck against the shore. The poor seamen felt that death was almost certain. On the summit of the cliff was safety; but how could they reach it, who were helplessly dashed at its foot? But just as the ship struck near the rock, their terror was changed to joy. Close beside them, on the steep face of the cliff, was a ladder. It seemed as if placed there on purpose for them. In haste they sprang from the rigging, mounted the ladder, and reached the top of the cliff in safety. The vessel went to pieces so quickly that, by the next morning, hardly a trace of her was left.

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