It was so very clear to John. He was baptizing in Bethabara beyond Jordan and he saw the Spirit descending like a Dove and remaining upon Jesus. He said, “And I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God.” This is the sign that he was told to watch for. The next day as John stood with two of his disciples, seeing Jesus approach John exclaimed with a loud voice, “Behold the Lamb of God!” And the two disciples (John’s disciples) left following John and followed Jesus instead.
You can imagine that it was a bitter-sweet time for them, leaving the one they had learned so much from, but now finding the One that they had been told so much about. This is kind of the essence of my Red Letter Faith journey leaving one (under circumstances not of my choosing); leaving one I had learned a great deal from and rediscovering the One I had been desiring so much to connect with.
Nathaniel Under The Fig Tree
In the text where this is recorded (John 1) there is mention of Nathanael under a fig tree. Perhaps you’re familiar with the text. (John 1:43-51) Ever wonder what Nathaniel was doing there under the fig tree. Was he picking figs? Pruning? Was he simply resting and reflecting on the things that had transpired there in Jerusalem recently. Had he sought shade and shelter there? What was he doing and why did it have such an impact when Jesus mentions it?
As I studied this long ago, long before I ever left the church I had spent two decades in, I became convinced that the fig tree was a place that Nathaniel resorted to often for a private time of prayer. This was a common outdoor place of prayer during that time in that culture. Jesus had His garden of Gethsemane, Nathaniel had his fig tree. Of course there is not enough in the text to be truly dogmatic about it (I cannot build a doctrine on it); there is not enough to go on to be sure but I am convinced of it personally. Furthermore, I am convinced that he was praying to Yahweh about the promised and long awaited Messiah.
Be assured by this that God hears our prayers.
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael to Follow Him
Jesus did not actually call Nathanael to follow Him. Not like He did the others. He first called Philip and then Philip told Nathanael about Jesus. But He did not call Peter directly either so do not think less of Nathanael. Actually what Jesus says of him is pretty astounding. “Behold an Israelite indeed, In whom is no guile!” What an amazing declaration from the lips of Jesus regarding Nathanael. While so many are quick to praise themselves, here Jesus heaps praise upon Nathanael. Jesus was saying that there was no craft, nor deceit, no guile in Nathanael. Amazing!
“Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth;
a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Proverbs 27:2
Nathanael’s response was a simple question. “Whence knowest Thou me?”
Aha. This is the question isn’t it. How can Jesus know any one of us? How can He know us and why should He even care? Well I am not going to address the ‘why should HE care’ question here in this Red Letter Faith series, I already spoke to that some in the last Higher Ground lesson, Does God Care About Me and Our Care For Others. I encourage you to read it.
It is an innocent question, “Whence knowest Thou me?” He did not say it recognizing ‘thou’ as capitalized like I have placed it here; he had not yet come to know and believe in Jesus as the Son of God. “Whence knowest thou me?” And if you know anything about the Greek language caps works differently than they do in English, but you get my point, he was not yet a believer. Not until Jesus answers.
Does Jesus See You?
This was the original thought here as expressed in the title, “Does Jesus See Me?” I answered in the title that I am sure of it. This scripture text being discussed here is only one of many reasons why I confidently say that He can. We will be sharing many more in the days ahead through the courses of study here. Jesus’ response to Nathanael’s question is as amazing as His greeting to him. “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Of course Jesus was with Andrew, John, and Peter for the entire day before this. And before that He was with the crowds where John was baptizing. He was nowhere near where He could have a line of sight view of Nathanael under his fig tree. Nor could He have had intimate knowledge of Nathaniael’s character having never met him. Not humanly speaking that is.
Nathanael understood this and immediately exclaims,
“Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God! Thou art the King of Israel!”
“My religion consists of a humble admiration
of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself
in the slight details we are able to perceive with
our frail and feeble mind.” ~ Albert Einstein
Although this is a profound statement by Mr. Einstein, Nathanael’s religion ran much deeper. “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God! Thou art the King of Israel!” This Israelite indeed in whom was no guile instantly recognized Jesus’ claim. Again I think it has much to do with what he was doing under the fig tree and I am convinced it was worship and prayer. But the ‘what’ is not as important as Jesus’ words here. “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Is Jesus Omnipresent?
The natural answer to that of course is ‘No, Jesus is not omnipresent.’ because the question usually is referring to the person of Jesus Christ in bodily form as He walked among men; but Jesus is more than a simple, supernatural Man. There is more to Jesus than we can ever completely comprehend. Think of this, if Jesus were only referring to an omniscient (all knowing) power then would He not have likely used another word here but…
Jesus said ‘I saw you’.
In this statement He connects Himself, as He did in so many other places with the Father and with the Spirit. Jesus’ being one with the Father and the Spirit’ possesses all the attributes of God. Omniscience. Omnipotence. And yes Omnipresence. The Spirit that proceeded from Jesus and from the Father is one omnipresent God. And not blindly Omnipresent but all-seeing. And since Nathanael was likely praying to Yahweh (as I suspect) then it was abundantly clear to him Who Jesus was claiming to be. Which explains Nathanael’s response, “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God!”
Jesus said, “I saw you.” And to me it is reasonable to assume that He sees me and He sees you. He sees the tears when they flow. And sees the kindness or lack thereof that is displayed toward others. Jesus sees it all.
Jesus Knows My Heart
This is my closing thought in this lesson of the Red Letter Faith series. Jesus, the God Who see, is also the God Who searches and knows hearts. The intimate knowledge He had of Nathanael and his character bear this out. And it is safe to say that He know our hearts and our character as well. The Psalmist in Psalm 139 talks about how intimately God knows his everything. It is both a frightening thought and a comforting one. Frightening because we try to hide the real us behind carefully crafted Facebook profiles and self-branding. Frightening because we hide from others the things deep within us. And comforting because Jesus has an unrelenting love that pursues us even though He knows us through and through. In the coming months as we walk with Jesus and listen to Him we will begin to see this more and more. Jesus has an unrelenting love that pursues us and will continue to pursue us until the end of time itself and beyond.
Is This Your First Visit?
If this is your first introduction to the Red Letter Faith series I hope you will continue with us on this journey. There has only been an introduction and this is Lesson 1. I would be honored if you would sign up for the lesson updates. The form at the top of the page is for that. If there is anything I can clarify about this project (I hesitate to call it a ministry); if there is anything further that I can answer please feel free to Private Message me using the form at the bottom of any newly refreshed page. Besides the Red Letter Faith series there are other studies underway. You can read about them here if you wish. Thank you for taking the time to read through my post here. I would love your comments below regarding this post or the website in general. Furthermore, you can help my projects here by sharing, here’s how, don’t let the title deter you. It was designed for the Google search engines tools but it explains the many sharing options available here. Thank you again friend.
Kind regards always and forever,