Read John 1:47-51
Nathanael accepted Philip’s invitation to “come and see” (John 1:46) the man he claimed was the Man “of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote” (John 1:45). Nathanael had doubts though, asking rhetorically, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1:47). Nathanael was in fact an Israelite, a fleshly descendant of Abraham, but there was more behind Jesus’ words than describing the man’s race. The Lord looked forward to spiritual Israel here—men who were of such a mind that they would accept the truth of God when it was presented, even if it went against everything they expected.
Nathanael had already expressed doubt that someone from Nazareth could possibly be important in God’s plan, and certainly not important enough to be the promised Messiah. And yet he possessed a certain quality that would not allow him to deny the truth when he learned it. He was spiritually minded, and there was “no deceit” in him.
Paul later included deceit in a list of things that are “not fitting” of one created by God, sandwiched between “strife” and “evil-mindedness” (Romans 1:28-32). Peter likewise commanded that Christians who desire to grow must lay aside “all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking” (1 Peter 2:1-3).
And here is Nathanael, a man “in whom is no deceit!” It is a high compliment to be paid by the Savior, but one that caused further questioning. “How do you know me?” (John 1:49). Nathanael was humble enough to know that a stranger could not possibly identify a character trait such as this so quickly, but the Lord’s answer put him at ease and helped him to realize that he was talking to the “Son of God,” “the King of Israel” (John 1:49).
When Jesus looks at you, can He call you “an Israelite indeed,” in the spiritual sense? Are you spiritually-minded, willing to accept God at His Word, to trust Him, and obey Him? Can He call you a person “in whom is no deceit”?