January 16, 2000

John 1:43-51 (CEV)

The next day [after calling his first two followers, Andrew and Peter,] Jesus decided to go to Galilee. There he met Philip, who was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. Jesus said to Philip, "Come with me."

Philip then found Nathanael and said, "We have found the one that Moses and the Prophets wrote about. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth."

Nathanael asked, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?"

Philip answered, "Come and see."

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said, "Here is a true descendant of our ancestor Israel. And he isn't deceitful."

"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree."

Nathanael said, Rabbi, you are the Son of God and the King of Israel!"

Jesus answered, "Did you believe me just because I said that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see something even greater. I tell you for certain that you will see heaven open and God's angels going up and coming down on the the Son of Man."


1. There are several other fig tree images in the scriptures of the Church. Matthew uses the fig tree in two ways. First, as a warning against being unfruitful (in season and out of season) which is a reference to constancy, a close relative of honesty or not being deceitful. Second, the fig tree is is related to honesty in having faith, even as small as a mustard seed, which, when our insides are in correlation with our actions, can move mountains.
     Mark references the same first warning as Matthew and goes on to a variation on faithful action wherein we can see the future as naturally as telling earthly seasons. The fig tree doesn't lie about which season is which.
     Luke has a variation on the warning image. Luke gives the tree another year in which to bear fruit when needed. But if it doesn't fruit after fertilization, then it will be done away with. Luke's second reference is to the telling of the seasons Mark tells us about.
     John's reference is as above.
     James also talks about constancy or congruence between nature/intention and results -- plant a fig, get a fig.
     Revelation uses an alternative scenario to get at the being aware of GOD's time.
     All of this raises the question of how you are doing in living your faith. Well?

2. What evidence will you accept that GOD is involved with your life and seeing you where you are? It probably won't be a fig tree, but it will be something equally common in your life as the fig was in Jesus' and Nathanael's lives. Basically this is an inquiry into what you have been using as an excuse to keep on in the same old ways. Remember, this is now the 2000s, not the 1900s, and moving in a new direction is important for you and for the world.

3. Nathanael is only talked about in John. First here in the beginning of the ministry of Jesus and after the resurrection in Jesus' last appearance to the disciples. We don't hear about Nathanael doing great things. He seems to simply have been doing his everyday living without deceit and becomes a marker of Jesus ministry (beginning and end). May you live without deceit, it will be enough.

Homepage | Sermon Prep