Day 4 - Perception vs. Reality | February Devotional in the Gospel of John

Tuesday, February 04, 2020 Bryan Hudson 2 Comments

John 1:43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Nazareth was southwest of the Sea of Galilee, a very small community probably less than 500 people during Jesus' lifetime. It was located north of Jerusalem. Being so small, and not adjacent to major cities, it was the last place one would expect anything interesting to happen. Calling someone a "Nazarene" would have been like referring to them as a "hillbilly."

Jesus represented many things that went against his culture, and ours. He was a king born in a feeding trough for animals (a manger), not in a palace. He was the son of a carpenter, not earthly royalty. He did not flaunt wealth, though no one possessed more. He was from Nazareth, not Jerusalem.

In our day, we continue to value things and people for reasons of notoriety, wealth, pedigree, and appearance. Jesus offered none of these physical attributes. Isaiah suggests that He may not have been particularly handsome. (Isaiah 53:2) Nathanael's response to Philip's statement fit the carnal culture of his times, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael's mistake was--and is-- very common; prejudging others based on perceptions. I like to remind people of this truth, "Another person's perception is not your reality." 

To Nathanael's credit, he had enough sense to go with Philip to see Jesus. In our culture, we say things like, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." Jesus didn't need to cultivate an image, build His brand, or hype Himself. His labors of love and miracles defined Him. The only thing Philip needed to say was "Come and see." To this day, people who know who they are can rest in their identity, their abilities, and their purpose. 

Jesus proved this: It does not matter where you are from. It only matters who empowered you and sent you! The rest of that chapter reveals Jesus' kindness towards Nathanael who had disrespected Him. He became a disciple of Christ (Some scholars believe Nathanael and Bartholomew were the same person).

Three points: 
1. Don't judge others by outward appearance or allow others to judge you by that false standard
2. Don't limit Jesus Christ to religious or cultural concepts about Him. Read the Bible for yourself.
3. Know that the "good" is not the place from which you have come. Your "good" is what God has done in you and the things you do through Him.

Reflection question: What are some of your God-given attributes that other's seem to miss? How will you "let  your light shine?" (Matthew 5:16)

Action Item:


  1. The old phrase still rings true,"don't judge a book by it's cover".

  2. There does exist a thin line between 'judging' by sight versus making an 'observation' based on how a person carries him/her self. I do find it hard to focus in the Christian music world, when someone has half there head shaved - pink, purple, & green hair(with earrings in their nose). I tell myself...focus on the message, what is the message saying? Yet there are those who proclaim a deep love and followers of Christ, who look just like what I've described. So at times we all can be a bit judgmental, but just as Nathanael, we should have sense enough to try to look beyond what we see, and immediately ask God to speak to our heart concerning the matter.