Wednesday, April 24, 2019. How can we know about God? How do we find out ourselves? What about things people say? How to approach this deep and important question?
Clearly, when you look around, you will find many answers to the question about God. There are those who tell you that there is no God. There are others, who tell you where to find God. And indeed, when you have found an answer yourself, you might tell others what you have discovered.
Yet, in all of this you have to find your own path. What ever you choose, it is your choice. Whom you follow, to whom you listen, your decision. There is just no other option, you choose anyway.
The search for God is the topic of the gospels. At the beginning of the Gospel of John we hear a story about Philip and Nathanael, and how they discovered Jesus as the son of God. Have a look, it is quite interesting:
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 of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,13 you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (from John 1)
What is it that happened under the fig tree? When you look around in Christian literature a little bit, you find many opinions, many comments, many suggestions. In any case, the remark of Jesus that he saw Nathanael under the fig tree made him believe. It was just a little hint, which clarified the situation for him. Jesus is the Son of God! The King of Israel!.
Heaven opened …
When you see the answer of Nathanael, it seems clear that this very answer must be linked to what he did under the fig tree. Perhaps he prayed, and asked God to show him the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel? He might have asked him to come to him and talk to him … something like that, which when Jesus made his remark resonated in a very strong way to what he had done there, such that the topic was clarified in an instance.
But Jesus gave him a strong promise. “You will see greater things than these.” What greater things is he talking about. The answer is given right away: the heaven opened and angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
Jesus is talking about his intense connection to God. He also talks about angels. The whole presence of God in the life of Jesus and his story until today does not stop with God alone. He comes as father, son and holy spirit. He comes with angels and servants, with a manifold of heavenly beings. You might think about this and question it. Am I drifting back into a world view which is long gone, with angels and other heavenly beings? Is Jesus speaking figuratively? Is he talking about God's spirit, about spiritual things which are beyond our insight? Not completely, since Jesus said to Nathanael that he will see it!
What are your points which would clarify the situation for you? What is your fig tree situation? What are the things you bring to God in prayer, such that he can come into YOUR life and you will tell him in response: my Lord and my God! Where is the Nathanael story in your life? (Roland Potthast) ... further texts