Nathanael, the first disciple.
February 2nd, 2002
Received by H.
It was interesting to observe your two dogs. No sooner do you caress one of them, and the other one comes running, interfering and also wanting caresses. They fear that if you give your love to one of them, there will be nothing left for the other one. Shared pain is half the pain, shared sadness is half the sadness, but shared love multiplies. They do not know this. This is one of the great miracles of the world. However, this is not today’s topic. I plan to tell you a story.
Once upon a time, in a very distant country, in the small village of Cana, there lived a man by the name of Nathanael. He was a prosperous man, the owner of olive groves and wheat fields, who lived in peace and happiness, surrounded by his family and servants. He was a person of medium stature, had a somewhat pointed beard, and was slender.
H.: I can see him now. It is he, am I right?
Yes, it is he.
Nathanael often had to visit the neighboring village, because there lived a carpenter, the best in the region, so that he could fix the broken plows, the yokes of his pairs of oxen, and other tools. This carpenter had also worked on the construction of Nathanael’s house, together with his son, Jesus.
A great friendship grew between both families, and Nathanael especially liked Jesus, who was a little younger than he was, but who had a brilliant mind and a great heart.
On a certain Sabbath, when Nathanael was sitting in front of his house, he saw Jesus walking down the street.
“Hey, Jesus, my brother!” he shouted. “What a pleasure to see you! But what are you doing here? Today is Sabbath, do you think it is lawful to go for a walk on the Day of the Lord?”
Jesus smiled and he sat down at his side. Yes, it is true, he smiled, but his eyes looked sad. And Nathanael realized immediately that something was wrong. He had heard, of course, of the frictions between father and son, and he had also found out that Jesus had left Nazareth and that he was now living at the lakeside.
Jesus kept his silence, but Nathanael’s insistence eventually proved stronger, and Jesus finally told him what had happened. He told him of his sermon in the synagogue, of his parent’s reaction, and finally, how people mocked him and threw him out of the village.
“You cannot return to Kpar Nahum now,” Nathanael said. “It is Sabbath. Stay the night with us, sleep in our house.”
And Jesus accepted the invitation. After dinner the two men conversed about the recent happenings, sitting on the open patio of the house until dawn. Jesus explained his ideas, the rough features of his teachings. Nathanael was impressed and lost in thought.
If you wish to, you could say that Nathanael was the Master’s first disciple. He accepted his ideas; he did not simply reject them, as Jesus’ own family had done.
On the following day Jesus walked back to the lake. Nathanael did not follow him, but he would do so a short time later when they met again, at the famous marriage feast of Cana.
Nathanael is one of the great characters of the first days of the early church. There is not much information on him, he did not achieve “feats,” he did not undertake long voyages as a missionary, and nothing is recorded about him in history.
After the Master’s death he returned with the other disciples to Galilee, and after Jesus’ multiple appearances and his final farewell, he stayed in his native village.
I have already mentioned once that Galilee was a firm center of primitive Judeo-Christianity. And this happened largely thanks to the silent work of Nathanael. Cana, Nazareth, the villages at the lakeside, they would all become centers of Christianity.
Nathanael lived a sufficient time to see the first persecutions against some of the Christians, the so-called Hellenists, in Jerusalem. He heard of the death of his friends James and John, the sons of Zebedee, but a short time afterwards, he died a natural death, in peace, in the bosom of his family.
He had achieved in his district what people miss so much: Paradise on earth. A paradise not based on wealth but on love and understanding.
Nevertheless, as all things on earth, that paradise did not last forever. Less than a generation after his death the devastating war of the Jews against the Romans and the subsequent enslaving of the people put an end to this dream — because Judeo-Christians were still considered Jews by the pagans.
H.: In which year did Nathanael die?
His death occurred in the year 48. He was 59 years old. As you will understand, I was not an eyewitness to either of these events or to this encounter between Nathanael and Jesus which I have just described. However Nathanael has told it to me.
And with this short story, my dear friend, I will say goodbye. I want to resume my account of the Master’s life and teachings.
God bless you,
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013