In the presence of the Son of Man, Nathanael professes Christ.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Good Comes from Nazareth
by Patrick Miller
“We’ve found the one Moses and the Prophets wrote about!” Jesus, the Messianic King whom the Jews eagerly expected, had finally appeared. After a life-changing encounter with Jesus, Philip excitedly heralded this news to his friend, Nathanael. Like many, Nathaniel was hesitant and full of doubt. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”, he murmured. Nothing in Jewish tradition hinted toward expectation from this quiet little town. For over 500 years, the Jewish people had been in bondage subject to other world rulers. What guarantee was there that this wasn’t another dead end? What separated this man from the rest? Sensing the suspicion, Philip extended Nathanael an invitation, “Come and See!”
Nevertheless, Nathanael accompanied Philip down the road towards this encounter. Upon seeing him approach, Jesus exclaimed, “Look, truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” The doubt that had been swirling around in Nathanael had been replaced with speculation. Nathanael responded, “How do you know me?” Jesus captured Nathanael’s heart with his answer. “Before Philip called you under the fig tree, I saw you”. Astonished and bewildered, Nathanael proclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel!”
This scene provides a glimpse into what Jesus did best in his ministry—initiate with the downtrodden and soften their calloused hearts. Nathanael’s story is an example of a person whom had lost all hope in the promises of Israel’s God. An interaction with Jesus quickly changed that. In his ministry, Jesus’ presence provided the liberating fragrance of redemption to those desperately in need of hope. This beautiful reality still rings true today.
Just as Jesus had seen Nathanael before his encounter with Philip, he has seen and knows us all. Jesus is not ignorant of any jaded experience, concern, or obstacle that keeps us from His love. Jesus’ extension into the life of Nathanael removing all doubt and suspicion is what He is busy doing in the world. He desperately wants to remove our hang-ups and hesitation, so we can enjoy His presence.
While Jesus is not physically present in our world, He extends his presence into the world today through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. As Christ’s body, we have the honor and privilege to grace someone with that same love He has bestowed upon us. Imagine what our neighborhoods and communities would look like in the City of San Antonio if we took time to look outward at whom God has brought into our lives to partake in His story of grace and truth. The story that has captured our hearts and provided us with hope as we await His return. Let us be the hands of Christ and invite others into that story this year.
- Do you ever relate to Nathanael’s doubt of Jesus’ legitimacy? What leads you to this doubt? How can you and your community remind you of Jesus’ holiness?
- When did God speak to you while you felt downtrodden? How has God softened your heart? Share this story with your family or Missional Community.
- What does this passage teach you about God?
- What does it teach you about yourself?
- How do you see this friendship between Phillip and Nathanael in your Missional Community? Are you inviting others to come and see?
- Read Psalm 139:1-18
- Write in a journal about the time you felt God first call you. What has God done in your life since then?
- Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
- Have you had friends who have urged you along in your spiritual life? Write them a note thanking and encouraging them.
- We can learn much from Phillip in this short passage. In your journal, write down names of people who you could invite to come and see the Son of Man.
Insistent God, by night and day you summon your slumbering people. So stir us with your voice and enlighten our lives with your grace that we give ourselves fully to Christ’s call to mission and ministry. Amen.
In his book, Faithful Presence, David Fitch shares a story of being available every week at a McDonalds for breakfast as an invitation to others to come and see what God is doing in our world.
Have you thought about doing something similar? Read more about David Fitch’s approach to a “come and see” life in his book, available here.
Last year as a church, we focused much of our time and energy discussing what it means to be faithfully present and how to invite people into our lives. Hopefully you have found ways to gather your neighbors, coworkers, family and friends in your living rooms and around your tables. Conversations are happening and friendships are forming, but now what?
We ask people to join us, not just for dinner or fellowship. Rather, we invite them into our presence in order to invite them into the presence of the Son of Man. In other words, we create relationships with people as a means of making disciples who follow Jesus.
There is no better example of making disciples than the life of Jesus.
From the beginning of the year until Easter, we will be following the gospel readings of the lectionary. We have chosen to follow along with the lectionary compiled by the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.
It is our hope that we will be a church who are changed by exploring the words, the works and the ways of Jesus Christ. In his presence, the truth is proclaimed and lives are forever changed.
Imagine if our church lived like Jesus. What would happen in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces and in our city if we were bringing the presence of Jesus into every moment? As we emulate Christ, we pray that his kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven, that we might live in the presence of the Son of Man.