God Sees You Under the Fig Tree
June 1, 2020

I live on the edge of the Uwharrie National Forest, surrounded by longleaf and loblolly pine trees. They tower amid the endless blue sky. I walk through the woods and discover new signs of growth, watching the forest change from season to season. The bright green’s of spring dampen into the dark auburn’s of fall as the woods button up for winter.  I admire a tireless team of birds swooping through their long, strong branches as countless pinecones tumble to the ground. I listen to the wind rustle through their long leaves and I know that God is near. 

Recently, I began studying the Gospel of John, a heart-wrenching book filled with the overflowing love of Jesus Christ. In John Chapter 1:19 -51 (English Standard Version), we read about the beginning of Jesus’ journey. John proclaims that he was called to testify to the arrival of Jesus as the Messiah. 

     While he was in Galilee, the Pharisees asked him “Who are you?” (v19)

     John replied “I am not the Christ.” (v20)

     Again, they asked “Who are you? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet? Who are you? We must know.” (v21)

     John replied “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord, as the Prophet Isaiah said” (v 22- 23).

The next day, John saw Jesus and said “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he whom I said after me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.”  The next day, John again saw Jesus and says “Behold, the Lamb of God.”  (v29-35)

     This time, Andrew and another followed him.  (v37)

     Jesus turned to them and said “What are you seeking?” They asked where he was staying and spent the afternoon with him. (v38-40)

     When Andrew left, he found his brother Simon and said “We have found the Messiah!” He brought Simon to meet Jesus. (v41)

     Jesus said “You are Simon, the son of John. You shall be called Cephas (a.k.a. Peter).”  (v42)

The next day, Jesus gathered his disciples in preparation to leave Galilee.  He found Phillip and said “Follow me.” Phillip did. Later Phillip found Nathaniel and told him that they had found the Messiah and to come and see (v 43-46). 

     When Jesus saw Nathaniel, he said “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” (v47)

     Confused, Nathaniel asked “How do you know me?” (v48)

     Jesus answered “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Phillip called you.” (v48)

     To this, Phillip replied “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” (v49)

     Jesus answered “Because I said I saw you under the fig tree you believe? You will see greater things than these. Truly, Truly I say to you you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (v50-51)

In this intimate passage of Scripture, we find two truths:  

1. God sees you. Even when you think He doesn’t. Even when you believe that God has forgotten you, forsaken you or failed you. God sees you. He sees all of your possibility and all of your pain. In those seemingly insignificant moments, when you are sitting under the tree, God sees you. When you are going through the mundane of the day, God sees your faithfulness. When you put one foot in front of the other, He sees your obedience to follow Him. But we have our part to play.  

  • Show up every day. Even when it’s hard, even when we are frustrated, tired, weary or confused.  Keep showing up. Show up every day and put for the effort. God does not seek perfection. He didn’t tell Andrew or Simon or Phillip or Nathaniel to make themselves perfect before they came with him. He simply said “Follow me.”    
  • Be obedient. Walk in the call God placed on you. You. Not your neighbor, not your Pastor, not your spouse. You. Even if it’s confusing. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if you can’t see the steps down the road. Be obedient. 
Possibility and Pain
Possibility and Pain

2. God uses you to share His love with others. In the story above, Jesus did not go and find Nathaniel. Just like Jesus didn’t go and find Simon Peter. Both were found and invited by someone else. In this first chapter of John, we see Andrew and Phillip telling others about Jesus. 

They said “I have seen the Messiah, come with me.” 

They didn’t have an elegant proposal. They didn’t worry about their platform or their profit margin. They simply said “I have seen the Messiah. Follow me. I will show you the One.” 

  • You are called. This is a call to each of us. If you have seen the Messiah, the one called Jesus of Nazareth, you are blessed beyond measure. In a world filled with chaos and pain and strife, those of us who have seen Jesus are blessed. We cling to a solid foundation, a hope and a strength that the world does not always see. We offer Him as our guiding light of hope and love. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19 ESV). 
  • We must labor. You are commissioned to share the Good News with the world. According to Webster.com, the word commissioned means to bring [something new] into working condition. Each of us, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to “bring the Gospel into working condition.” That means that we must labor. We must build. We must work to make it a reality. We do that in the fullness and grace of God. Yes, we stand in all of His strength and truth. But we labor.  It’s hard. We sweat. Our muscles ache from the endless motion of it. But we keep moving forward. 
  • Share your story. In the story, Phillip told Nathaniel “We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (v45). We have found Him. It’s that simple. I have found him – this man named Jesus. I found Him or rather He found me. In my weakness, He is strong. 
In my weakness, He is strong.
In my weakness, He is strong.

In this fast-paced life, we’re always searching for the next “thing”. We look for the next spark or creative idea to catch someone’s attention or our own. But maybe making a connection with others is simple. Maybe it’s as easy as saying

 “I’ve seen the Messiah – the one called Jesus of Nazareth. Come and you will see.” 

All my love,