"Nathaneal Under the Fig Tree" by James Tissot
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 1:43-51
TO CHEW ON: "Nathaneal said to Him, 'How do you know me?' Jesus answered and said to him; 'Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.'" John 1:48
Jesus' picking of His disciples appears an easy, random process though it wasn't random at all, based as it was on His x-ray vision of each potential disciple's heart. Simon, Andrew, James and John came at His simple invitation. So did Matthew and Philip.
Philip found Nathaneal and invited him to follow too. He wasn't such an easy sell.
"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" he asked, when he heard that was where Jesus was from. He knew — astute scripture scholar that he was — that Nazareth wasn't the prophesied birthplace of Messiah.
Philip, confident he had found the Real One, said simply, "Come and see."
Jesus didn't disappoint. On meeting Nathaneal He exclaimed, "Behold an Israelite in whom is no deceit."
The description obviously resonated with Nathaneal because he responded, "How do you know me?"
Jesus mysterious answer made sense to Nathaneal alone" "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
Jesus had apparently put his finger on a significant moment in Nathaneal's life. Perhaps it was a time when he was in crisis or facing a fork in the road. Maybe it was a moment he had been praying for direction, or that he would be shown truth. Whatever it was, Jesus' mention of that moment under the fig tree arrested Nathaneal right where he lived. I can see his eyes get big, his jaw drop in surprise. Then, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
Has God ever shown you that He sees you in the same private way? From the pastor speaking on the exact text you read in your quiet time on a Sunday morning to you hearing from a person shortly after memories of them cross your mind (perhaps for the first time in a long while), recognize these 'coincidences' as Him watching you under your fig tree.
Respond as Nathaneal did — with worship. And then become His modern disciple. Who else would you want to follow after meeting someone who sees, knows and loves you in such an intimate way?
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for your all-seeing knowledge of me. Help me to respond to Your invitation to follow You with the abandon that Nathaneal did. Amen.
MORE: Feast of St. Bartholomew
Today is the Feast of Saint Bartholomew (whom scholars believe is the "Nathaneal" mentioned in today's reading). He is listed among Jesus' twelve disciples.
The Catholic Almanac describes Bartholomew:
Bartholomew (Nathanael): A friend of Philip; according to various traditions, preached the Gospel in Ethiopia, India, Persia and Armenia, where he was martyred by being flayed and beheaded; in art, is depicted holding a knife, an instrument of his death; Aug. 24 (Roman Rite), Aug. 25 (Byzantine Rite).Read entire entry about Bartholomew.
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