September 25, 2020 – Friday
John 1:50 NIV
50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”
On the day before Jesus had called Andrew and Simon, son of John, whom He renamed Cephas (Peter) to follow Him as His disciples. This day, the next day, He called Phillip as well to follow Him. All were from the town of Bethsaida. It was on this day that 45 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.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. Before we go any further, we need to ask why Nathanael said, Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?
Turns out both Nazareth and Bethsaida were neighboring towns in Galilee and the whole area of Galilee was held in contempt by the Jews. Additionally, as is often the case, neighboring towns were often rivals of sorts and held each other in a form of distain. Also, Nazareth was a place which the Scripture never mentioned as the place from whence the Messiah should arise. Of course, we know the birthplace of Jesus was Bethlehem. Still, we would do well to remember what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:25-28 when we consider the poor village of Nazareth, For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.
Having answered our question about Nathanael’s question about Nazareth, consider Phillip’s reply to him, Come and see. And so they headed off to find Jesus. Then we have the following exchange, 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Jesus astutely notes from our verse of the day, You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that. If that is why you call Me the Son of God and the king of Israel, get ready because You will see greater things than that. Nonetheless, Jesus is affirming Nathanael’s belief. Also note this is the first time believe or belief comes from Jesus’ lips. MacLaren writes, He [Jesus] regards the exercise of faith as being practically synonymous with being a disciple, that from the very first, believers were disciples, and disciples were believers. That is faith growing into belief and trust in Jesus as the Messiah, as the Son of God.
It is important to be aware Jesus turns what was a popular saying in His time as it is in our time on its head, Seeing is believing. Here Jesus says, because you believe you shall see even greater thing. MacLaren says it thusly, The world says, ‘Seeing is believing.’ So it is about the coarse things that you can handle, but about everything that is higher than these invert the proverb, and you get the truth. ‘Seeing is believing.’ Yes, in regard to outward things. Believing is seeing in regard to God and spiritual truth (emphasis added).
Often something happens in our faith that deepens our faith and our belief. Other times, living a life of prayer and time in God’s word, His truth is somehow revealed to us on a personal level and our faith and belief is deepened. It may be that we finally are able to look at life and life’s interactions through the glasses of our faith and as a result our belief grows and deepens. The disciple Thomas had to see the risen Christ before he would believe. We do not have that opportunity. Instead, if our hearts are open to what He will show us what we need to know in order to believe as He did for Nathanael.
It is Friday and the weekend is upon us. I hope all of you have the opportunity to go to church and participate in prayer, praise, communion, and study with brothers and sisters in Christ.