FROM THE WELL - July 24, 2014

{C}[1]{C}John 1:43-51 (NRSV)
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."


When I was a fourth grader at Haysville Elementary, the first grade teacher invited her son, a NASA Astronaut to speak to the students. All first through sixth graders gathered in the auditorium to hear him speak. After his presentation, he asked if there were any questions. My dream was to become a pilot and astronaut. So, I raised my hand and he called on me, "What do you have to do to become an astronaut," I asked. He told me excellence in math and science was important. He also told me good eyesight and physical dexterity was essential.

This was bad news. My two worst subjects were math and science. I had worn glasses since the first grade. My eyesight was poor and my physical talent was not much better. I was a member of the fourth grade basketball team but was not allowed to play unless we were losing. Even then, I was usually not sent in until the last sixty seconds when I could do the least amount of damage.

We all have dreams. What were your dreams growing up? What did you want be? How did you envision your life as an adult? I think these are appropriate questions for any generation. Even in Jesus' day when your life and vocation were determined by your location, family, and status people had dreams and wishes.

Even Nathanael, who is mentioned only twice in the Gospel story, had dreams. In spite of his anonymity, I think there is something we can learn about our dreams from Nathanial. The passage tells us that Jesus first saw Nathanael under a fig tree. So why is the fig tree important to the story?

During Jesus' day, most people lived in one-room houses. Sometimes a fig tree was planted on the property as a source of food but more importantly as a place of refuge and shelter. Fig trees could grow fifteen feet high and have branches up to twenty-five feet or more. The branches were like an umbrella. It was a first century Florida room. Underneath a fig tree was a place for rest, prayer, and dreams. Evidently, Jesus saw something special in Nathanael as he was sitting under his fig tree.

I tend to think that Nathanael spent some of his time, as many did during his day, longing for the Messiah. Suddenly, Nathanael found himself in the presence of the Son of God. His longing and praying were over. He had waited a lifetime for Jesus and suddenly He was there beckoning Nathanael to follow.

Like Nathanael, we all have our hopes and dreams. I wanted to be an astronaut but God called me to be a preacher. Whether we are a teacher, grocery store worker, engineer, plumber, electrician, nurse, receptionist, police officer, or firefighter the most important thing we can do is follow Jesus. Peter, James, John, and Andrew were fishermen but they chose to go with Jesus. Matthew worked for the IRS. Luke was a physician. Judas was a Zealot but they all chose to follow. What will you do when Jesus calls? Think about it.