Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
When Jesus sees Nathanael coming toward him he calls him a “true child of Israel.” We do not know why Jesus has this strong reaction to Nathanael. We know that Nathanael was sitting under a fig tree, but we don’t know what he was doing. We know that Philip approached him, although we don’t know why, and that Nathanael accepted his invitation to see who it was from Nazareth that was fulfillment of the law and prophets. We also know that Nathanael says the “right things” in response to meeting Jesus.
What was it about Nathanael—about who he was, about his faith, about whatever he was doing under the fig tree—that warranted Jesus’ reaction to seeing him and also the inclusion of this story in the Gospel of John? One possibility is that Jesus knew Nathanael’s heart and spirit and had known him since his own beginning. That fact and Nathanael’s curiosity and openness to the One who Phillip wanted him to see results in Jesus’ reaction.
This begs the question—what would Jesus’ reaction be if he saw me today? What would I be doing? Would I go with Phillip? What would Jesus sense of my being, my heart, my spirit be? Jesus has known me my whole life, so would the trajectory of my being and becoming warrant a similar reaction?
—Elizabeth Collier has degrees from three different Jesuit universities, including a PhD in Christian Ethics from Loyola University Chicago. She teaches at Dominican University in River Forest, IL.
Mother, help our faith! Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.Please share the Good Word with your friends!