A man has to take his shade where he can find it.
A man from Bethsaida, Nathanael by name, found a fig tree with just the shade he needed. Though unconcerned about what people might think of a man sitting under a fig tree, Nathanael could not shake the feeling someone was watching him.
Disciples have to be called.
John the Baptist set the pattern. We are not told how they were selected, but we know that John had followers allied with him—disciples, they were called. The dictionary makes the meaning of the word clear and flexible:
“…a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower:” (Dictionary.com)
John seems such a lone figure, it is likely these disciples volunteered to follow him. Jesus, on the other hand, singled out men and called them to follow Him and become His disciples. Jesus was building a team and wanted faithful leaders to learn from Him and spread His message. John, the Gospel writer, describes the beginning of a process that is still at work today: Jesus is still calling people by name to follow Him.
Andrew and His Brother, Simon
Two fishermen brothers from Bethsaida had elected to follow John the Baptist. Hearing Jesus speak, they started following Him, not realizing that there was more than their personal choice involved. Jesus stopped and asked them what they wanted. They called Jesus, Rabbi—meaning teacher—and asked about accommodations. Jesus answer was classic:
“Come and see.”
They obeyed but somehow one of the brothers had business elsewhere. When the remaining brother, Andrew, heard Jesus, he retrieved his brother, Simon, saying,
“We have found the Messiah”
He delivered his brother to Jesus and Jesus looked him over carefully. He liked what He saw, inside and out, and gave this report.
“You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas”
Philip and Nathanael
The next day two more Galileans came to Jesus. It happened this way. Philip was called first and went immediately to find Nathanael saying,
“We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Nathanael, comfortable in the shade of the aforementioned fig tree, expressed doubt that anything good, let alone Messiah, could come from Nazareth. Philip repeated the invitation of Jesus to “come and see.”
When he arrived, before Nathanael could speak, Jesus greeted him. Nathanael wanted to know how Jesus knew him. The answer was also classic:
“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
It was enough to convince the man to confess that Jesus was Messiah.
“Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Jesus smiled. It was a smile His disciples would soon treasure as much as all the things they saw Jesus say and do.
“Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe?
You will see greater things than these.”
What things? Heaven meeting earth in the words and deeds of Jesus. Such was the shade cast by the Tree of Life.
John 1: 37-50
The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and 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.” And 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 is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to 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, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Lord Jesus, I have heard Your call. It is more real than if I heard the sound of Your voice calling my name. I want to answer and be Your Disciple. I want to learn how to live the earthly life by the rules of heaven. I want to be a Peacemaker and thus be a Child of God. I want to tell Your story to those who will listen and live it before those who will not. Holy Spirit, take me to school each day and teach me the ways of my Savior, my “Rabbi.” Amen.
I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go
Words: Mary Brown; Music: Carrie E. Rounsefell
1. It may not be on the mountain’s height, Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front My Lord will have need of me.
But if by a still, small voice He calls To paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
“I’ll go where You want me to go.”
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain, or plain, or sea.
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord.
I’ll be what You want me to be.
2. Perhaps today there are loving words Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now, in the paths of sin, Some wand’rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my Guide,Tho’ dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet,
I’ll say what you want me to say.
3. There’s surely somewhere a lowly place In earth’s harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor thro’ life’s short day For Jesus, the Crucified;
So, trusting my all to Thy tender care, And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.