Our Gospel lesson this week is John 1:43-51, taken today from the New International Version (NIV).
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote —Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
In this passage Jesus begins to call the group of closest followers who will be His disciples. Nathaniel is invited by Philip, and while he comes along, he is sceptical. Like many of that time and place it is hard for him to believe the Messiah is the son of a carpenter from a tiny town.
Most thought the coming of the Messiah would be recognized by everyone, that He would be a mighty king to lead them to glory. People saying that Jesus was the one to come didn’t fit their expectations. What we think we want or need is often not what God has planned for us.
Jesus taught His followers that connecting with God and each other was how His kingdom would come, not by force but by love. It was hard for them to understand and we still have difficulty learning and practicing His lessons. As with His disciples, Jesus is patient and guides us to see God’s plan for us and His call on our lives.
Loving Lord, we are often slow to hear Your word and accept Your will for us. Help us to be the people You intend, led by Your love. Amen.