Tag Archives: Nathanael

you all are gonna really see something

You gotta wonder what was going through Jesus’ brain sometimes.

I mean, he knew everything, but I wonder if the living in real-time and the living outside of time ever allowed him to laugh.

(I know. I gotta let  you into what I’m thinking.)

Nathanael was impressed that Jesus could see what he (Nathanael) had been doing a few minutes before.

Jesus says, “You think that’s something? That’s nothing. Wait til you see this!” And then Jesus reached back into their story, into the beginnings of Jewish history.

He reminded them of the night generations ago when Jacob was running from home. His brother wanted to kill him.  He ran.

One night he stopped to sleep. He leaned against a rock. He fell asleep. He dreamed.

In his dream, Jacob saw steps. He saw angels going up and down. And at the top of the steps was God, talking to him.

When Jesus tells his disciples that they are going to see heaven open and angels moving up and down. that’s the story he’s reminding them of. And this time, he’s saying, God’s not just at the top of the steps.

He’s at the bottom, too.

So go back to the beginning of the post. What was the tone of voice Jesus was using when he says, “Nathanael. you are impressed by a little ‘I saw you when’? Guys, all of you. Listen. You are gonna get your own version of Jacob’s ladder. And this time, it’s going to be even better.”

I don’t think Jesus was scolding. I’m not sure he was mocking. When I read it, I hear a hint of delight. I hear a tone of “You will so amazed. This will be so cool.”

And I think I still hear that tone of voice some days.


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.

come and see

Philip had a bunch of information about Jesus.

He was the one that Moses wrote about. He’s one that the prophets wrote about. He’s from Nazareth. He’s the son of Joseph.

From one little conversation with Jesus, it seems, Philip knew a lot.

We guess this because right after Jesus invited Philip to follow him, Philip went to find his friend, Nathanael. And Philip told Nathanael everything he knew about Jesus. And Nathanael, responding to this sweeping review of Old Testament history, responded with “Nazareth! Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Immense significance and Nathanael focuses on the competition between Purdue and IU, the tension between Michigan and Michigan State, the rivalry between Webster and Siren.

Nathanael was from somewhere other than Nazareth, some other little town in the region. He heard one little detail that he could pick up on, that he could pick on. And pick he did.

Nathanael was exactly like us. People try to show us things, offer hope, provide information about someone who can make a difference. And we point out where they came from, what school they didn’t graduate from, what their parents didn’t do, couldn’t accomplish.

Rather than dealing with the possibility that we could be wrong, we zero in one little thing that we think we know.

And Philip provides the only possible response. He doesn’t argue. He doesn’t debate football team statistics. He doesn’t question Nathanael’s intelligence or discernment or lack of sophisticated travel.

Philip tells Nathanael, “Come and see.”

Of course, Philip could say that with confidence. Because he knew Jesus.

We work hard to convince people about facts about Jesus. We work hard to convince ourselves. Philip was convinced enough that he didn’t have to argue with his friend. Instead, he simply said, “Come and see.”

And Nathanael did.