Have you ever been reading scripture and some small thing pops out at you that you’ve never seen before, making you wonder or see things in a new perspective? For me, sometimes they’re not always this big life changing revelation as much as they are what I call “sweet nothings”. This is where, like a lover, God whispers little things in my ear to get my attention and to help me know Him or some other characters in the bible better.
Take the first chapter of John, for example. In verses 35 – 50, we see Jesus is choosing and getting to know some of his disciples. Let’s read verses 45 – 50 (from The Message):
“Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, ‘We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!’ Nathanael said, ‘Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.’ But Philip said, ‘Come, see for yourself.’ When Jesus saw him coming he said, ‘There’s a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body.’ Nathanael said, ‘Where did you get that idea? You don’t know me.’ Jesus answered, ‘One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael exclaimed, ‘Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!’ Jesus said, ‘You’ve become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven’t seen anything yet! Before this is over you’re going to see heaven open and God’s angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again.’”
I found it interesting that Peter’s brother Andrew was first a disciple of John the Baptist (vs.35, 37, and 40 confirm this). It seems that Andrew and Peter get along as brothers really well and are close to one another, along with Philip who was also from the same town. I’m guessing they grew up next to each other, and they all three were obviously already interested in learning more about the coming Messiah. They apparently already knew of Jesus too, from the perspective that he was Joseph’s son. It reminded me of when I was in high school and living in a small town in Colorado. Someone pointed out a guy to me once and I said “who?”, to which their reply was “you know, the owner of the movie theater”. Oh, OK. Everybody knows everybody in a small town or sometimes even small surrounding towns.
It doesn’t say where Nathaniel was from, other than he was an Israelite, but I enjoyed the banter between him and Jesus. Jesus seems very jovial in this whole portion of scripture. I’m guessing he’s excited that his ministry is about to get started. If you care to see it the way I do, it looks as if Jesus is teasing Nathaniel, knowing possibly what Nathaniel had said to Philip (asking if anything good could come from Nazareth).
There’s something else here about Nathaniel. Because Jesus said he saw him sitting under a fig tree, Nathaniel believed he was the Son of God, the King of Israel. Actually there are two things. First, Nathaniel is looking for a King. Do you see that too? I wonder if he was like some others in that day, looking at that time for a physical or earthly King to come save Israel and push the Romans out, perhaps more so than a spiritual Messiah.
The second thing about Nathaniel is that when Jesus said this to him (I saw you under a fig tree), he got really excited! What was it in Jesus’ statement that would make him that excited? It makes you wonder if perhaps he had been praying under the fig tree. In my imagination, I wondered if his prayer might have been something like “Oh Son of God, King of Israel, do you see me? Do you see your people? Have you forgotten us?” So when Philip tells Nathaniel (paraphrased), “Hey we found him!” well, we know he doubted right away because of what he said, but maybe he was also thinking Jesus would have to prove Himself somehow. Hmmm… that would explain to me why he got so excited!
All that from such a short passage, and I only scratched the surface! OK, I have one more for you then I’ll stop and let you start to discover some of these nuggets on your own – and I would love it if you shared them with me too!
The second one isn’t far off – just keep reading into John chapter 2, through to verse 5 (also from The Message):
“Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They’re just about out of wine.’ Jesus said, ‘Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.’ She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, ‘Whatever he tells you, do it.’”
OH so interesting! First of all, for all of us who like to give their spouse or children “gentle pushes” (I won’t use the word NAG 😉 ), looks like we’re in good company here! It also makes me better understand where Catholics may get the notion that they should pray to Mary to intercede to Jesus on their behalf!
OK, OK, fun aside (for now). Another interesting thing I noticed was really brought out in a recent sermon from my Pastor, who dove into Mary’s character when he excitedly said “Whatever he says do, DO IT”! Something in the way Pastor emphasized that made me have a quick in my spirit (what some call an “AHA” moment) that this was not the first time for Mary. I’m guessing by now she knew the ropes well enough to know her son may choose not to really resist her pleas, and was about to take action. I bet there was an exchange of glances between them that may have confirmed this, and maybe even a wry smile or two, or shaking of the head. Doesn’t that make you wonder what else her eyes had seen up to that point, with Jesus living under her roof for the last 30 years? I take it there was a lot more in her heart that she pondered other than just in Luke 2:19, in the story of the Nativity!
Both of these passages make me giggle a bit just to think about them. To me, they show a humorous, jovial, soft side of Jesus. As we read on in John and other accounts, we come to find out he is very quick witted, comfortable in his skin, sharp as a tack, a blunt “tell it like it is” kind of guy. His personality really stands out. He isn’t afraid to laugh, doesn’t mind after political correctness, sees things from what some would consider a totally upside-down perspective (LOVE that), and yet permeates love, kindness, gentleness, and all the fruits of the Spirit. Our Savior is, both outside and inside his flesh, an amazing, multifaceted guy!
How do you currently see Jesus? I hope as you read this you are drawn and encouraged to read the scriptures more, and get to know Him better.
Don’t know Jesus yet? Leave me a comment, I would love to introduce you!