John 1: 45-51
Rev 21: 9b-14 / Psa 145
You shall see greater things than this.
Like Nathaniel I was in doubt
At first about His invitation;
But in the end I would find out,
God used a friend for my salvation.
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael asked, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Philip answered, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than this.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1: 45-51)
When Philip brought Nathanael before Jesus, our Lord did not rebuke him for his prejudice or skepticism, but even praised him, saying, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him” (1:47). These words were enough to melt away whatever doubts or skepticism the future apostle may have had about Jesus. In fact his previous prejudice turned to wonder: “How do you know me?” When Jesus gave a simple reply, “I saw you under the fig tree,” a great transformation occurred to Nathanael. Completely acknowledging his Master, he said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (Jn. 1:49).
Prejudice is one of the most common flaws of human nature. Our orientation or social upbringing often influences us to pre-judge certain individuals based on their race, color of skin, educational background or place of origin. The apostle Nathanael was an upright and intelligent man, and yet, on impulse, his immediate response to Philip when informed about the origin of Jesus was, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” To counter this bias, Jesus promised him, “You shall see greater things than this… you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” These words that end the first chapter of John’s Gospel refer to the dream that the patriarch Jacob had at Bethel when he fled from the rage of his brother Esau. In his dream he saw a ladder reaching up to heaven, and on it thousands of angels were ascending and descending. (Gen.28:12) For acknowledging Jesus as “the Son of God, the King of Israel,” Nathanael was assured of seeing the glory of Jesus and His majestic host of angels as Jacob did in his vision.
In our Christian breakfast fellowships every Saturday, the businessmen or professionals that we invite occasionally respond with some degree of skepticism, especially when informed that it is not a business meeting at all. We simply tell them, “Come and see. You might like the experience.” And as we have heard countless times in the testimonies of those whose lives have been transformed, they had experienced far more than what they had expected. There is always something miraculous that happens when we are called by God through a friend’s invitation, or even by a serendipitous circumstance (as in drawn by the melodious songs of the music ministry) to join a renewal community. Once we have been “taken in” by the power of the Holy Spirit, we lose our duplicity and biases, and come to know in a more personal way who Jesus Christ really is, and what God’s design is in our life.
Lord Jesus, You are the ladder that bridges heaven and earth, through Whom angels come down to earth, and the righteous are called to heaven. Thank You for calling us to join Your flock. Grant that we may serve You here and be worthy of the Father’s kingdom. Amen.
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