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Daily Devotional • February 25

Pamela Lewis
Come and See
A Reading from the Gospel of John 1:43-51

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

The opening of this text begins with Jesus leaving for Galilee, and he addresses Philip with the familiar invitation to discipleship: “Follow me.” A lighthearted connection to the other disciples follows, culminating in Philip’s joyful confession to Nathanael of who Jesus is by connecting him to Moses, the law, and the prophets. Jesus’ identity not only fulfills the expectations of the Hebrew scriptures but reminds us that he is also the son of his earthly father, Joseph, who came from the city of Nazareth in Galilee.

Nathanael’s dismissal of Nazareth (and, by extension, Jesus; see v. 46) probably speaks to long-held resentments or prejudices against Nazarenes, seen as an unimportant people. But Philip’s non-judgmental response to “Come and see” can be considered as another invitation to discipleship, this time to a skeptic who has prejudged Jesus, based solely on his place of birth.

Jesus speaks the truth in identifying Nathanael as a “true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” He already knows Nathanael from having seen him “under the fig tree” (under which rabbis traditionally studied the Torah, the tree Jesus curses for not yielding any fruit) yet does not dismiss him in the way he himself had been dismissed. 

Perhaps trying to compensate for his hasty put-down of Jesus’ hometown, Nathanael confesses and calls Jesus “Rabbi” and the Son of God, echoing John’s same confession: “I myself have seen and have testified, ‘This is the Son of God’” (1:34).

This passage, which began with an invitation, is completed with Jesus’ promise to Nathanael — and to us — that greater things will be seen than what was first glimpsed under the fig tree.

Pamela A. Lewis taught French for 30 years before retirement. A lifelong resident of Queens, New York, she attends Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and serves on various lay ministries. She writes for The Episcopal New Yorker, Episcopal Journal, and The Living Church.

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