how do you know me

You know me, some of you, because we see each other every day. You know me, some of you, because someone introduced us. You know me, some of you, because you discovered me on your way to somewhere else.

When Nathanael asked Jesus, “How do you know me?” he wasn’t talking about simple introductions. That’s because Jesus, when he saw Nathanael approaching said to those standing around, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

This would have been the last thing Nathanael would have expected. After all, his comment to his friend Philip about Jesus had been “can anything good come from Nazareth?”

With this kind of public greeting, Nathanael is stuck. Either Jesus is a sham, in which case you can’t trust what he says  (and Nathanael would desperately like these words to be true of him) or Jesus is completely accurate, in which case Philip was right and Nathanael completely wrong.

So Nathanael says, “how do you know me?”

Nathanael had a lot riding on this question. A true son of Israel, one who actually cared about Messiah, about following well.

And now, he’s risking everything with one question for this potential Messiah: how do you know me?

And Jesus tells him where he was sitting.

What a waste of insight! Think of  all the things Jesus could have said about Nathanael’s thoughts or sins or doubts or struggles or stupidity or mistreatment of people as a child. Jesus could have made him miserable.

That’s what we expect of God at times. Shaming us.

Instead, Jesus told him a simple concrete detail from the past 15 minutes.

And Nathanael knew he’d found the rabbi he wanted to follow.

A rabbi who knew everything and didn’t use it for guilt. Who more than dominance wanted relationship.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

2 thoughts on “how do you know me

  1. Wow, Jon. I’ve never considered the “before” part of this passage. The before part, when Nathanael was dissing Jesus. Great insight and food for thought.

    Of course, we want to be right, and Jesus to be wrong, expecting him to shame us. For some of us, that’s what church was (and maybe still is) about.

    Glad it’s not what Jesus is about.

    Like

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