Friday, October 24, 2008

Book of John Study

The proteges at NCC are studying the book of John and I'm really loving it so here's my thoughts on a passage that we tend to zoom past and ignore. By the way - the pic up top is a fig tree somewhere in Israel. Check out the people standing under it - that's one big fig tree!

47Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!"
48Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." (J2.47.48)

"I saw you." This is a powerful statement – a reminder – that Jesus knows exactly where we’re at – everyday – every minute – every second – even when we don’t think anyone is watching us – the quiet places – the lonely moments – when we’re at home – driving to work – doing menial tasks – or even when we’re just sitting around under a fig tree – Jesus ‘sees’ us. The Greek word for ‘to see’ is ‘eidon’ and it means to have regard for one – to cherish – to pay attention to – the word even means to ‘discover.’ Nathanael caught the Lord’s attention when he was simply sitting under a fig tree – and the first amazing thing I see here is that Jesus can step into the simple and make it supernatural. I believe that this could possibly be one of the Lord’s favorite things to do – it’s His hobby – show up where it’s normal and splash some color on it – drench the mundane with His presence – don’t believe me? He did it in ‘the beginning’, He did it in Bethlehem, He did it at the wedding banquet when all he had was thirsty guests and 6 stone jars of plain old water – He does it all the time – we simply don’t see it. Nathanael was kicking back under the fig tree – we say, BORING – Jesus says, AMAZING! Just remember the next time you’re drowning in simplicity – look up, you might have just caught the attention of the God of the Universe.

Now, I’ve got to go back to the ‘cherish’ part of this Greek word eidon because the second thing I see is this - Jesus was looking at Nathanael’s heart – believe it or not this word also means to inspect or examine. In other words, Nathanael was under the Lord’s watchful eye and when he least expected it he was under examination – and when he meets Jesus for the first time he receives a compliment he’ll never forget – ‘here’s a man who has no deceit in his heart’. Quick question – can the Lord say that about me after close examination? How about you? Who are we when no one else is in the room? Would you want to invite that person you were talking about on the phone to listen in on your conversation? Would you want the history of the internet sights you've visited to be published in the New York Yimes or at least examined by your spouse and children? Awkward silence follows those series of questions.
Now this isn’t a critical look that God gets blamed for all the time but one of love filled fascination – the way I watch and listen to Macy and Mia when they’re playing – when they don’t realize that I’m watching and listening – many times I’ve just stood there mesmerized – getting all teary eyed – thinking of how much I love them – how fast they’re growing up – how proud I am of them – how thankful I am for them - and they don’t even realize it. So that act – that emotion I experienced watching my kids has God’s fingerprints all over it – it’s like He’s smiling at me and saying to me, “see there – fun isn’t it?” Our Father does it ALL THE TIME. I’m glad He does because it shows me that He’s thinking of me even when I’m not thinking about Him.

And that takes me to my last point – Nathanael was probably not a flashy individual by the world’s standards. We wouldn’t have noticed him. Nathanael would’ve turned our heads if he wore Yankee pinstripe and averaged 50 home runs every season – if he graced the cover of GQ – if he drove a jet black Chrysler 300 – if he… get the picture – here’s the cool thing about this – the guy wasn’t doing anything impressive when Jesus said, ‘hey, I want Nate on my team’ –
he was just sitting under the local fig tree chewing on a fig.
My point is this –
I don’t need to get all caught up in what I can do, what I own, where I live, or who I am – self made men and women don't exist but the Grace of God does. And when it comes to people, Jesus doesn’t look at the ‘wow’ factor – I believe He’s more interested in the ‘who’ factor – the things He notices that no one else does. Examples – the Bible is chock full of them: shepherd boy David, Gideon the big wimp, loud mouth - bull headed – back stabbing Simon, Mark the quitter, etc, etc, etc. - PROOF that simple lives, scaredy cat reactions, and stupid mistakes don’t disqualify us in God’s eyes. The only guy I can think of that was perhaps impressive to behold was Samson – hmmmm…yeah…he was a letdown. Slow it up – don’t forget this – when it comes to focusing fully on outer appearances we've been given a standard - the prophet Isaiah tried to give us a heads up here:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (53.2)

Forget all the attractive Jesus’ on canvas that hang in church halls and on grandparents walls – Isaiah warned us – you’re not going to realize who He is because there won’t be any glitz – no glamour. The prophet was right – we rejected Jesus because we didn’t recognize that TRUE greatness lies within the person – not on the outside of the person. We’re still guilty of poor perception 2000 years later – I’m glad He’s not.

Thank you Jesus that even when I don’t realize you care or you’re there – you do – you are – you always will. Thank you for your infatuation with the fig tree moments in my life – help me to always keep my eyes on you because you’ve proven that you can’t take your eyes off of me.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Beautiful insight! I'm so glad that God is not looking for the "somebody" because He would never be able to use me. He is taking all the "junk" in my life and using it to reach out to others...who would have ever figured? I am so thankful that He can and will use anybody who is willing.

You guys are in our hearts and in our prayers as you follow God's leading in your life. May God continue to pour our His many blessings on the McMath family!!!

Welcome to the world of blogging too:)