Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit.” John 1:47
Nathaniel was “an Israelite indeed.” What does that mean?
Paul was a Jew, and he loved his own people so much that on one occasion he said that he would be willing to be cursed himself if that could lead to his own people being saved (Rom. 9:1-5).
So, Paul clearly had a deep affection for Israel, and he explains what a true Israelite is: “No one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter” (Rom. 2:28-29).
Let’s broaden this out: The great question before us today is not what you are outwardly, but what you are inwardly. “Do you have a heart that is seeking after God?” Perhaps you go to church—that is what you are outwardly. You can be in a church and be very far from God.
The true Israelite is the one who truly seeks after God. None of us can rest in what we have achieved in the flesh. Nathaniel was sincere in his desire to find and follow the truth. Notice, Jesus does not say that Nathaniel was a man with no guilt. He says that Nathaniel was a man with no deceit. He is the real deal. He is someone who is truly searching for the truth.
Could Jesus speak these words of you? “[Put your name here] is a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit.”