I saw you under the fig tree
I love John’s Gospel. It’s so different from the fantastic Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, and over 100 days into the New Testament a change of style is refreshing!
The first thing that jumps out in today’s reading that concludes the prologue is 3 titles for Jesus.
1. Lamb of God
John the Baptist says it twice “Behold the Lamb of God”. There are so many Old Testament allusions to the Lamb of God. In Gen 22:8,13, God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice. Isa 53 tells us of the lamb who will be led to slaughter and Exodus 12 points to Jesus with the Passover lambs being slaughtered and the blood covering over the Israelites and allowing them to be set free.
2. Baptiser in Spirit
John had been baptising people in water as a sign of their repentance. They are washed clean of their sin. But it only dealt with the past. Jesus has now come, and will baptise people, drench them, in the Spirit who is Holy. They, we, will receive power to be holy from the Spirit who is Holy. Up until John the Baptist the Spirit was called the Spirit – now his name has an adjective. In the Old Testament He was seen as the One who empowered a few people to do special tasks. Soon He will come and empower all of us not just for service and witness, but holiness too.
3. Son of God
This title was given to Jesus by His Father at Jesus’ baptism in Matt 3:17 and Luke 3:22. In both of those passage we see the Father’s delight in the son.
The second thing that jumps out to me is that his followers are known by name.
Andrew comes first – forever known as Simon Peter’s brother. And thus in his shadow. So many live in the shadow of another and yet God calls Andrew by His name. God doesn’t value him any more or less than any other. All of us are His favourites. All are special.
Andrew immediately grabs others, that’s how Christianity spreads as we tell others of the blessings we have received ourselves.
Peter receives a name change from Simon to Peter which means rock. Jesus approaches us from the perspective of our potential and destiny.
His name means gift of God. What mattered to him was the Bible. Philip knew he would only be interested in Jesus from the perspective of the Scriptures. So he tells him, not that your marriage can be fixed or you will be blessed but, that “We have found Him who was written of in the Law and the Prophets.”
Still Nathanael is not convinced. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? It was a rough town with a bad reputation – a bit like King’s Lynn has in the rest of Norfolk, or Wisbech has in Kings Lynn! I love that what convinces Nathanael is a word of knowledge. Jesus says “I saw you under the fig tree”. It actually, not surprisingly, means more than meets the eye! Most people would have lived in a cramped one room house with lots of noise, bustle and smells. Fig trees had great shade, so if you wanted to go to get some peace to pray and meditate, that would be a great place. Jesus saw Nathanael’s location and his heart – he is a true guileless Israelite. Part of the people of God who loves God. And he will see a lot more by sticking around Jesus!
Come follow Him! Love Him and we will see lots of great things.