The Disciples: Bartholomew (or Nathanael), who was pure in heart

Bartholomew or Nathanael, was the son of Talmai and lived in Cana of Galilee.. A number of scholars believe that he was the only one of the 12 disciples who came from royal blood or noble birth. His name means Son of Talmai.  his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai King of Geshur; – 2 Samuel 3:3. The New Testament gives us very little information about him.

Bartholomew’s name appears with every list of the disciples. (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14). He also appears as one of the witnesses of the Ascension (Acts 1:13) This was not his first name, however; it was his second. His first name probably was Nathanael. Jesus thought highly of Bartholomew despite the fact he expressed some local prejudice about Nazareth. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit (or guile). 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ending and descending’ on the Son of Man.” – John 1:46-51
Jesus recognized how sincerely his love for God was from the beginning. He speaks about the pure in heart in the Beatitudes; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. –  Matthew 5:8 and Nathanael did see Jesus and recognised Him as the Son of God.

What does it mean to be pure in heart? The meaning of Purity isn’t just about being clean; it is to be single-minded and intentionally focused. In this instance, God wants us to be focused on His kingdom and righteousness. Our heart cannot be divided, it is all or nothing. No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  – Matthew 6:24 The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. –1 Samuel 16:7

Tradition indicates Bartholomew was a great searcher of the Scripture and a scholar in the law and the prophets. He developed into a man of complete surrender to the Carpenter of Nazareth, and one of the Church’s most adventurous missionaries. Nathanael is believed to have preached in India and translated the book of Matthew into their language. The Armenian Church claims him and Thaddeus as its founders and martyrs. However, tradition says that he preached in India, and his death seems to have taken place there. He died as a martyr while serving the people of Albinopolis, Armenia. He was flayed alive with knives and then beheaded.

Bartholomew’s emblem has the Bible and the flaying knife. The Bible symbolises his firm faith in the word of God, which he preached freely and the knife how he was martyred.

PRAYER: Lord God, may we live fully for you. Show us where our loyalty is divided. Purify our hearts and open our eyes so as we might see you. Help us to live boldly and wholly so as the world will see you too through us as we live for you. In Jesus Name, Amen

SONG: Open the Eyes of My Heart by Maranatha –

(Written by Ange van der Leeuw)