John 1:43-51 - The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." And He said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
Have you ever thought you were in one place, in one situation, and then suddenly realized that the truth was completely different? That's what happened to Nathanael in today's reading. He starts off convinced that Philip is making a big deal about nothing—some nobody who comes from Nazareth, of all places!—and ends up realizing he is in the very presence of God.
Jesus catches the humor in this situation, too, and compares it to something that happened in the Old Testament with their ancestor Jacob (also known as Israel). Jacob was traveling to visit relatives after messing up his home life by deceiving his father and brother. He spends the night in the middle of nowhere, a place that had so little going for it he had to use a rock for a pillow. And in the middle of the night, God comes to him in a dream. Deceitful Jacob sees a ladder stretching from heaven to earth, with the angels going up and down on it. And when he wakes up, he is totally shaken: "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. ... How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven" (Genesis 28:16, 17b).
Jacob was a liar, a cheater, and deceiver—and yet he still found mercy and blessing from God. God forgave him and made him the father of the whole nation of Israelites, and ultimately of Jesus our Savior. That's the kind of God He is.
Nathanael is the opposite of deceitful—he's embarrassingly blunt with his opinions about Jesus!—but he, too, finds mercy and a mission in life from Jesus, the Son of God. Nathanael becomes one of the twelve disciples, and spends his life telling others about Jesus.
And us? We, too, may be totally confused about where we stand with God, or even whether He's paying attention to us and what we say and think. But He is paying attention—and He's showing kindness and mercy to us. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has made Himself the connection between us and heaven—He is the real "ladder" that Jacob saw in his dream. Heaven is open to us, even when we completely mess up—because Jesus has made us His own.
THE PRAYER: Lord, thank You for hanging on to me, even when I'm confused about where I stand with You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Have you ever got turned around in the dark and ended up in the wrong place?
2. Did you ever think things were one way and God showed you the truth was very different?
3. What does Jesus' sense of humor mean to you?
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