Daily Word

Jesus sees to the heart | John 1:46-48

46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 

John 1:46-48 (ESV)


After Jesus called Philip (yesterday), he went right away and told Nathanael. Nathanael responds with what seems like a discriminatory comment but, it could also be an honest question. “That is, have we ground from Scripture to expect the Messiah, or any eminent prophet from Nazareth?” (Wesley’s commentary)


Philip gives a very short and effective reply: “Come and see”. Barnes’ commentary suggests, “This was the best way to answer Nathanael. He did not sit down to reason with him, or speculate about the possibility that a good thing could come from Nazareth; but he asked him to go and examine for himself, to see the Lord Jesus, to hear him converse, to lay aside his prejudice, and to judge from a fair and candid personal inquiry.” Consider well this approach in your own sharing of the good news.

Jesus sees

When Jesus first sees Nathanael, he declares his character. “One who is really an Israelite–not by birth only, but one worthy of the name. One who possesses the spirit, the piety, and the integrity which becomes a man who is really a Jew, who fears God and obeys his law. (Barnes’ commentary)

Nathanael is curious how Jesus knows his character. Jesus’ response blows him away. It was common then to study and meditate on the Scriptures under a fig tree then. My guess is Jesus not only knew where Nathanael was studying but knew what he was studying. “Jesus probably had the same kind of prophetic insight that other prophets had—given by God. Since He did not know everything during the years of His incarnation (Mark 13:32), His knowledge was probably not divine omniscience (Phil. 2:5-8).” (planobiblechapel.org)

<- Reflection ->
  • Do you try “too hard” to convince others about the Gospel? It’s the Spirit’s work. Take the Philip approach and just introduce them to the Savior.
  • Maybe you’re not being a light at all. God is with you. He will equip and enable you. Do your part.
  • Consider that Jesus knew Nathanael’s character as well as where (and possibly what) he was doing. As the resurrected Lord, He has omniscience; He knows everything – even what you are thinking now.

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