Daily Devotion – January 16, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison
1:43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
1:44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”
1:46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!”
1:48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
1:49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
1:50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”
1:51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
After Jesus’s baptism and his time of wandering the wilderness, he is ready to begin his work as a teacher about the Kingdom of God. He needs a group of people he can teach and travel with. In John’s gospel he finds Andrew first, who brings Peter. And then this story happens.
Jesus finds Philip and asks him to follow him. Philip does. But very soon Philip looks for Nathanael, to bring him along. Were they friends? We presume so, but we don’t know. They knew one another well enough for Nathanael to feel free to object to Philip’s suggestion on the grounds that nothing good can come out of Nazareth, let alone the Messiah. But he goes with Philip anyway. Jesus kind of wows these young men. He reels them into his group. They remain, for their lifetimes, eventually dying martyrs’ deaths.
“Come and see this man – we are sure he is the Messiah! Jesus of Nazareth!”
“Can anything good come from Nazareth? This might be a waste of our time.”
Then Jesus, seeing him arriving, says, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!”
What do you make of such a claim by a stranger as you enter a room? If it’s just a joke, you laugh. But Nathanael is curious (and probably still skeptical). “How do you know me?”
Jesus says he saw him under a fig tree before Philip reached him. While it’s not exactly a miracle, it impresses Nathanael, and standing there in the presence of Jesus, he professes his belief that Jesus is the Son of God. As simple as that. He is won over. In return, Jesus promises him a more amazing life and visions than Nathanael could have dreamed of.
These disciples were called out of their everyday lives as Jesus’s work intersected with their work. Still to this very day we are called out of our everyday lives as God’s work intersects with our work. Sometimes we are skeptical, but more often we don’t even notice. We don’t expect to be called or even have our world intersected by God’s work. BUT IT IS. Pray God we notice. Even that we be skeptical. But that we go and see what God is up to.
Lord God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for continuing to come near. Help us notice what you are up to in our world and go and see! Amen.