Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him,
“Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! “- John 1:47 (KJV)
Nathanael Stands Before Jesus
Nathanael had never met Jesus before, but Jesus knew him. As a matter of fact, before Nathanael breathed His first breath, the Lord knew all about Nathanael and the life he would live (see Psalm 139). But the first time Nathanael saw Him face to face, he was walking up to Jesus and before Nathanael could say anything, Jesus declares from His infinite knowledge that Nathanael was a man “in whom there is no guile.”
Guile is not a word that is used much in today’s normal conversation. It means trickery or stealth. You know, the way a duck hunter puts out fake ducks to imitate actual ducks; these are called “decoys.” The goal is to get other ducks to see the decoys as the real thing. The goal is to be sneaky; to trick them. The more authentic you make the decoy look, the easier it is to keep other ducks from seeing the truth.
Another word for guile is “deceit.” Jesus says that Nathanael is a person in whom there is no deceit, no trickery, no decoys. So Jesus is saying that, with Nathanael, what you see is what you get; there's nothing in his life that he is hiding or that he is trying to hide. Nathanael hasn’t put up any “decoys” in his life to keep those around him from seeing what is actually in his heart, in his mind, and in his life. According to Jesus, Nathanael is the real thing; a man of complete integrity. What an incredible thing for the Lord of All to say about a person’s life.
As human beings, it is most natural for us to live lives that are full of decoys. When we make a mistake, we want to cover it up. When we think it will benefit us, we avoid telling the whole truth. When we tell stories we might exaggerate just enough to make ourselves look a little more confident, a little more intelligent, a little more assertive than we actually are. We tell ourselves things like: “I’m not trying to be sneaky. It’s just a small lie. No one really needs to know.” We tell others: “That’s not the way that I meant it. It must have been someone else. I can’t believe you don’t trust me.” Maybe part of the problem is that we first need to be honest with ourselves. I mean really, it’s kind of silly to try to be be sneaky when there is an Almighty God who sees and knows everything.
I Will Stand Before Jesus
God’s Word tells us that everything that is hidden will one day be brought to light (Luke 8:17). One day each of us “will appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). We will give an accounting for everything we have done and every careless word we have spoken (Matthew 12:36, 16:27). The bottom line is that one day I will stand before Jesus and nothing is hidden from Him. I might be able to hide things from my parents or my spouse or my kids or my church, but I cannot hide anything from Jesus. And one day I will stand before Him.
No matter how embarrassing it is, no matter what others might think of me, no matter what it costs me, my prayer is that the Lord will help me to live with such great authenticity now that nothing will catch my friends and family off guard when everything about my life is revealed on judgment day.
When I read about Nathanael, I can’t help but think of that day; the day that I will see Jesus face to face. What a wonderful thing it would be for Jesus to look at me and declare in His infinite knowledge: “Here is a man in whom there is no guile.”