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Cynicism and doubt are popular shields people use to fend off the gospel, but often underneath, these people are ripe to become the most faithful of believers.
Bartholomew was a disciple of Jesus (apparently the same person as Nathanael) seems to have been just such a person. Only a handful of information is recorded about Bartholomew in scripture, but the little that is there probably tells a lot.
As Jesus was beginning to call His disciples to follow Him, Philip came to Bartholomew and told him that he had found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Bartholomew, who himself came from a small village only eight miles from Nazareth, cynically responded, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46).
But when Jesus saw Bartholomew coming, He immediately declared, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” Why would Jesus say that? Didn’t Bartholomew just demonstrate his lack of faith? But Jesus knew better. When Bartholomew asked Jesus how He knew him, Jesus told him that He could see Bartholomew even before Philip called him. Immediately Bartholomew responded in faith, declaring,
“You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49).
Jesus praised Bartholomew’s faith over such a small miracle and assured him that he would see even greater things than that. Bartholomew did indeed see greater things than that. He became one of Jesus’ disciples and witnessed His ascension to heaven (Acts 1:9–13).
Sometimes we are quick to dismiss the spiritual potential of people who initially express cynicism or doubt about the gospel. But such people may very well be hiding a heart that longs for its doubts to be overturned. Pray for these people, and ask God to break through their shield of doubt and lead them to follow Him.