John 1:50-51 NIV – Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
“The subject, object, and content of Christian hope is a person, Jesus Christ. Christians do not hope for things, but in a person.” [Jacqui A. Stewart, “The Certainty of Our Future Hope in Karl Barth’s Theology”]
“All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” (Ephesians 1.20-23 MSG)
Prayer: Jesus, you are our Hope. Lead us, guide us, every day in light of where you are taking us. We want to stay close to you every moment. In your name, amen.
John 1:48-49 NIV – 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.”
How quickly Nathanael has changed his tune! A moment ago, he scoffed, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Now he’s declaring Jesus, the Son of God! Why? Because Jesus saw him “under the fig tree”? But what does this expression mean?
Read these Old Testament passages that prophesy about a time when God would send the Savior: “But they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4.4); “On that day, says the LORD… you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree.” (Zechariah 3.10); “The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up… a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king… In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.” (Jeremiah 23.5-6)
Under his fig tree, Nathanael’s been hoping for the Savior to come. Jesus revealed, in a way that was meaningful to Nathanael, that He is “the Branch” sent by God… the Son of God, king of Israel, bringing salvation and safety, and even more than he ever hoped for.
Prayer: Lord, our Savior and King, lead us toward even greater things! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Living Hope” (Phil Wickham)(Click here):
John 1:47-48 NIV – When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
“We ought also to gather from this passage a useful doctrine, that when we are not thinking of Christ, we are observed by him; and it is necessary that it should be so, that he may bring us back, when we have wandered from the right path.” [J. Calvin, Commentary on John]
Something about Jesus’ words made Nathanael stop in his tracks. It might not seem that significant to us, but for Nathanael, it struck a chord. All of a sudden, he’s backtracking in his mind, thinking, “Maybe something good can come from Nazareth!” Actually, not just “something good,” but maybe the most-good thing conceivable—God’s Savior, our King!
Hope is not just our outlook on the future. Optimists believe life is what you make it. Pessimists don’t seem to care. Doomsday activists are sounding the alarm on the latest conspiracy. Christian hope is not about deciphering the future. All of history is moving toward the second advent of Jesus. Hope has come to us. He has been observing us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And now he has come to personally accompany us toward his coming glory. Our hope is not in some distant future… Hope is with us!
Prayer: Lord, we have nothing to fear because you are with us. Our Savior, our King, our Hope! You are with us! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Better than Life” (Phil Wickham)(Click here):
John 1:46 NIV – “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
As Christians, rather than hoping for things or outcomes, we are to “meet Hope as a person.” This miraculous personal encounter with Jesus gives us our life’s calling—hope. It’s easy to become dismissive of things that sound too good to be true. After all, who wants to be known as being gullible?
What’s wrong with Nazareth? Did it have a bad reputation? Did Nathanael come from a rival town? Has he heard this “sales pitch” before? Why dismiss this possibility outright? We’re not sure. But what we do know is that this know-it-all attitude nearly cost Nathanael an encounter of a lifetime. Thankfully his feet didn’t refuse the invitation to “come and see.”
In retrospect, Nathanael himself probably couldn’t explain why he accepted Philip’s challenge. But something drew him inexplicably, irresistibly. It’s only through the Spirit’s leading and power that we can find this life’s hope, Jesus.
Can anything good come from waking up early for morning prayer meeting? Can anything good come from spending thirty minutes reading God’s word in the middle of a busy day? Can anything good come from fasting to seek God’s direction? Can anything good come from joining a small group and being accountable to other Christians? Can anything good come from giving generously to those who are undeserving? Come and see…
Prayer: Lord, fill me, lead me, guide me with your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
You can use this track to help you pray for the Spirit’s filling and sing “Holy Spirit” (Jesus Culture) (Click here):
John 1:43-45 NIV – The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 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.”
Take a moment to situate the story of Nathanael’s encounter with Jesus within the context of John chapter 1 as a whole. You can listen to the entire chapter here (Click here):
How does John 1 begin? Does this have any bearing on Nathanael’s encounter with Jesus that comes at the end of the chapter?
Jesus is on a mission… since the beginning of Creation and even beyond… Jesus is on a mission to find those who are hopeless, cynical, ignorant or falsely optimistic. Hope came looking for us! Take a moment to be in awe of Jesus and his great love for you.
Prayer: Lord, You reached for us from on heaven’s throne when we had no hope! Thank you for finding us! In Jesus’ name, amen.