John 1:48-49: “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Philip had called Nathanael with an proclamation that would be hard for anyone to comprehend or believe. Philip told Nathanael that, “We have found the one Moses wrote about, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Such an interesting passage of scripture because it addresses something that so many of us desire at one time or another. Proof. We want proof that God exists, proof that God can do miracles, and proof that what His word is speaking to us is the ultimate truth free of discrepancies and error.
Nathanael wanted proof. His exact words were, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
Jesus! Can anything good come from Him? Isn’t that the fundamental question being asked today? Why follow Jesus? What good can come from Him?! What good can come from Nazareth?
Not just proof that God CAN, but also proof that Jesus IS.
And so the response of Jesus is as profound as the question.
“I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
What was Nathanael doing under the fig tree? Was he questioning the existence of his creator? Was he questioning whether or not God even cares about him or his suffering? Was he pondering the truth and message of God that had been passed down for so many years? Was he asking for proof?
We may never know what it was, but what we do know is that Jesus’ response was enough for him to leave everything behind so he could follow the man who saw him when he was under the fig tree.
If Jesus was paying attention to a man under a fig tree surely he is paying attention to the man sitting at his computer right now typing these thoughts. Surely he is paying attention to the one that is reading these thoughts. Jesus sees. Jesus sees us.
Jesus sees US.
He hears US.
He LOOKS for US.
And his response is one that will quiet the critic, silence the cynic, and move the skeptic to compassion. His response is always appropriate and always reveals the longing of the heart. It’s not proof that Jesus offered when He confronted Nathanael that insightful day. It was fulfillment. Fulfillment of the scriptures that announce God’s love for us. Fulfillment of His promise to never leave or forsake us. Fulfillment of His message that he will draw close to us as we draw close to him. When Jesus offers fulfillment to the searching soul the desire for proof no longer seems to matter. Fulfillment will always supersede proof.
I think Nathanael was drawing close to God under that fig tree and his search for proof was satisfied… but not with proof. No, proof was no longer necessary.