The Ladder (John 1:47-51)

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Phillip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Today we conclude the first chapter of, “The Gospel According to John.” I for one have enjoyed it tremendously, the Lord has taught me much over these past several weeks, memorizing scripture and meditating on them all week, it has been wonderful, and I praise God for it. Now we conclude this chapter today in discussing the last five verses.

As we saw last week Phillip had given witness to Nathanael that Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, was none other than the Messiah from God that they had been waiting for, the One (Moses in the law, and also the Prophets wrote ~John 1:45). The only begotten Son of God, the King of Israel, and God in flesh. In Nathanael’s answer we know that he didn’t believe Phillips witness but Phillip encouraged him to come and see for himself (See John 1:46). So beginning here in verse 47 Nathanael comes as Phillip had requested and when the Lord saw him coming toward Him, He said of Him, (“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit” ~John 1:47). Jesus knew something. He knew something that only God could know, and revealed to Nathanael that He knew something about Him that only God could know. He told Nathanael, (“Before Phillip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” ~John 1:48). Now what was Phillip doing under that fig tree? I don’t know, only God knows, only God knows the heart of a man, but I can surmise this; whatever was going on under that tree Nathanael made a decision to do what was honest and right, he did what was honest and right even though no man would have seen him do no wrong. That is when honesty is amazing, when you think you can get away with something but you chose to do what is right anyway, especially if you have nothing to gain by doing what is right and honest and may have everything to lose by doing what is right and honest, and the Lord acknowledges him for that. Can you imagine the Lord coming to you and saying, “I saw what you did and I Am pleased?”

Nathanael realized at that very moment whom Jesus was, he realized that He was God, that He was the promised Messiah, because there was no way anyone but God could have seen him, and especially have known his thoughts. In verse 50 Jesus acknowledges Nathanael for believing, (“Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe?”). Jesus acknowledges Nathanael in this because most people can be hit with an overwhelming amount of evidence and still not believe, but Nathanael did. He went from total unbelief, to overwhelming belief, and worshiping Jesus as Lord in the blink of an eye, and I find that beautiful. Now because Nathanael does believe, the Lord tells him that he will see many great and wonderful things because of this. That he (“Shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man”). This is a direct reference to Genesis 28:12 (Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it). I conclude and simply put this; Jesus is the Way to heaven, He is the Way to eternal life, He is the Way to be with God the Father in heaven, He is God’s Way, He is the Ladder that God set up that reaches from earth into heaven, and you must come by that Way. There is no other way.

Mike Peek

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