Greater Things

Philip found Nathanael and told him,
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
But Nathanael said to him,
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
(John 1:45-51)

Scripture Study

1:45 Moses … the prophets: Introduces a theme of scriptural fulfillment that runs throughout the Gospel narrative (2:22; 5:46; 7:38; 10:35; etc.).

1:46 Nazareth: A small and secluded Galilean village considered unimportant to many in Israel.

1:47 A true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him: Jacob was the first to bear the name “Israel” (Gn 32:29), but Jacob was a man of duplicity (Gn 27:35–36).

1:48 Under the fig tree: a symbol of messianic peace (cf. Mi 4:4; Zec 3:10).

1:49 Son of God: this title is used in the Old Testament, among other ways, as a title of adoption for the Davidic king (2 Sm 7:14; Ps 2:7; 89:27), and thus here, with King of Israel, in a messianic sense. For the evangelist, Son of God also points to Jesus’ divinity (cf. Jn 20:28).

1:50 Possibly a statement: “You [singular] believe because I saw you under the fig tree.”

1:51 The double “Amen” is characteristic of John. You is plural in Greek. The allusion is to Jacob’s ladder (Gn 28:12).

Scripture Reflection

A Christian may find that, in trying to communicate his faith to others, they raise difficulties. What should they do? What Philip did—not trust his own explanation, but invite them to approach Jesus personally: “Come and see.” In other words, a Christian should bring his brothers and sisters into Jesus’ presence through the means of grace which he has given them.

Nathanael, a sincere person, goes along with Philip to see Jesus and makes personal contact with our Lord. The outcome is that he receives faith, the result of his ready reception of grace, which reaches him through Christ’s human nature. It’s about intimacy with the Lord.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.