““How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”” (John 1:48-49, NIV)
If you pay attention to these things, like I do, you’ve heard of the “Reclaim Jesus” movement. It is a group of Christians who are both theologically and socially liberal contending that theologically and socially conservative Evangelical Christians are wrong. Of course, the Evangelicals disagree. So each side is making statements and signing pledges and poking each other in the eye.
What is interesting to me is the idea that if I were an outsider looking in, listening to both sides, I would have NO IDEA that Christianity is a supernatural faith. In fact, everything these folks debate is all very natural. I would know from them that Christianity is a religion that elicits strong feelings and emotions. I would know that it is a philosophy and worldview. But I wouldn’t know about any of the supernatural elements of Christianity. I wouldn’t know the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, the miraculous.
That’s one of the reasons I love the story of Nathanael (he’ll be the topic of the sermon on Sunday). As he is introduced to Jesus, he has reasons NOT to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the son of a carpenter. He’s not from Bethlehem (like the prophets say). He’s from Nazareth – and nothing good comes from there. The only thing Jesus has going for him is that Nathanael’s friend Philip likes him.
And then – Jesus interrupts Nathanael’s thought process with a miracle. Jesus knows something significant about Nathanael that took place under the fig tree. We know this was a powerful moment because Nathanael’s response is dramatic: he immediately changes his mind about Jesus.
Have you ever had one of those moments? When God shows you something you had no way of knowing…or someone under the Spirit’s direction reads your mail? Or God gives you a little financial miracle…or he heals your body? I love those moments because they remind me…this isn’t an intellectual pursuit. This is a relationship with Jesus. By its very definition it is supernatural!