In John 1:44-51, we read about Nathaniel’s meeting with Jesus. The passage begins with neither Nathaniel nor Jesus, but rather Philip.
Philip came from the same area as Peter and Andrew. We don’t know how he got to know them. Perhaps he was a client or maybe he came to know them through Jesus. In any case, Philip decides to tell his friend Nathaniel about Jesus. He tells him that they (the disciples) have ‘found the one Moses wrote about … and about whom the prophets also wrote’. There are plenty of references to the first coming of Jesus throughout the Old Testament. To the people of that time and place, Jesus’ (Messiah’s) coming was associated with a sense of liberation, just like the Israelites who were led out of Egypt.
Jesus was brought up in Nazareth. The town wasn’t anything special; just a small town somewhere in modern-day Israel. As Nathaniel asked: Can anything good come from it? Nazareth might not have been special at the time, but now this humble town is associated with the greatest man to ever walk the earth. The disciples might have been parochial in their thinking, focusing only on the needs of their country, and the there-and-then, but Jesus was on to something much bigger: a mission to fulfil God’s plan for the world, throughout history – to save humanity from the penalty of sin.
Jesus seemed to see the potential in Nathaniel before he even set eyes on him. It is not what we have done in the past which God looks at, but the choices we make in the future. So will we follow him? Will we learn from our mistakes? Nathaniel seemed surprised when Jesus approached him. How did Jesus know? It could have been that Jesus simply spotted a man sitting under the tree, or that he had the divine foreknowledge of what would happen.
Nathaniel believed because Jesus spotted him under ‘the fig tree’, but this was small fish. Jesus would have greater things to do – things which Nathaniel and his friends would witness – a global revolution which would send shockwaves throughout history…
Mark Doel, The Church of God in Crowborough