In the grand scheme of the universe, I am simply another creature trying to make its way on planet earth. Some of us are born wealthy or into privilege. Some of us are born into poor underserved communities. Some of us live in the middle way - neither poor nor rich. We are, all of us, trying to find a niche we where we can plant our selves and live a life rich with meaning.
Nathanael was one just like me. He was a man trying to make his way on planet earth. The story is told that one day he heard about Jesus. Right there on the spot, he offers an impromptu assessment, “can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Jesus sees Nathanael long before Nathanael sees Jesus. But when Jesus meets him face to face, he offers a counter assessment “Behold an Israelite In whom there is no guile.”
Do we see the obvious? Sure we do. Jesus’ assessment of Nathanael is bathed in grace while Nathanael’s assessment of Jesus is bathed in religion. Nathanael was skeptical - perhaps rightly so. He’d seen stories like this unfold before. But perhaps more to the point, Jesus didn't fit the doctrine Nathanael had been taught all his life. The messiah would be a great man and would lead Israel back to its glory. Greatness from Nazareth? Nonsense.
Grace confronts religion. But Jesus isn't after the confrontation, necessarily. Jesus is after Nathanael. But why? Well, for me, this is a beautiful picture image of God picking his harvest. In other words, Jesus shows us that the gathering of God’s people is his ministry. And, just a sidebar here, I notice and find it interesting that this gathering begins before John offers his great “doctrinal assessment” of Jesus life which we find a bit later in John’s gospel (John 3.16,17).
Imagine laboring alongside God. Imagine your church “seeing” those under the trees of your property. Imagine that these same folks are the very people whom God desires to gather into your community. Imagine Jesus reflecting on these very men, women, and children, “behold, these whom God loves.” Now comes the hard part. Imagine taking down the barriers of doctrinal acceptance and purity of belief and creating a way for others. Imagine that!
God has spotted you. And as sure as he has spotted you, God has embraced you as one in whom and with whom God yearns to dwell; regardless of where you actually stand or where you find yourself in this world. So, next time you are under a tree, pause and reflect. Imagine that God has spotted you and is calling to you join God’s divine enterprise. Not because you have ascribed to some doctrine, belief, or prophecy. Just because you are.
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