Under The Fig Tree

Photo by veeterzy: https://www.pexels.com/photo/green-leafed-tree-38136/

John 1:43-48 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

Jesus Is Looking For Searching Hearts

Word Study: When Jesus meets people, He reaches out and meets all different types of people. In our text today Jesus meets Philip. Who introduced Philip to Jesus? If you read your text, it’s no one. The Bible says Jesusfindeth Philip. The word findeth is the Greek heyriskō (pronounced hyoo-ris’-ko), which means “to search for, to seek out to find something of value”. When Herod met the wise men, he told them

Go, and search diligently for the baby Jesus – when you FIND (heyriskō) Him, come and tell me where He is ..” (Matthew 2:8, author’s paraphrase)

Jesus told us seek, and you shall FIND (heyriskō)” (Matthew 7:7). Though Heyriskō may mean to stumble upon, it is often used to describe the results of diligently searching for something or someone of value. Jesus was diligently looking for Philip. Why is that?

I believe God is looking for those whose hearts are seeking Him.

The Psalmist said, Psalm 53:2 (CEV) From heaven God looks down to see if anyone is wise enough to search for Him.

In the Old Testament the first King of Israel was Saul. But Saul didn’t follow the Lord very well. Saul became prideful, and rather than follow the Lord began to follow his own agenda. God told Saul,I seek a person after My own heart to lead My people” (1 Samuel 13:14). God led the Prophet Samuel to the home of Jesse, the father of the shepherd boy David. David the son of Jesse was a man after God’s heart” (Acts 13:22). God looks for and desires those who look for Him. God is always looking for those who are looking for Him. We are told in the Book of Hebrews that God rewards those who diligently look for Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Everyone has a knowledge that there must be a God Who made all things. Sometimes we – through human philosophies and foolishness – pretend that there is no God. That everything just “happened”. Yet common sense tells us that this is not true. God calls to our hearts, saying,

Psalm 27:8 “Seek My face”

The Lord looks down from Heaven, and sees everyone” (Psalm 33:13). He doesn’t just see our outside, but our insides. He sees our hearts. God says,

My eyes watch what you do – everything you do. There is nothing you do that is hidden from Me – I even see the bad.” (author’s paraphrase Jeremiah 16:17)

Since Jesus is God become Man, and God looks for those who look for Him, it is not hard to understand why Jesus sought out Philip. Philip had been looking for, longing for the Messiah, the Promised Savior of the world. When Jesus comes to Philip,

Jesus doesn’t introduce Himself.
He walks up to
Philip and says, “Follow Me”.

What does Philip do? He doesn’t ask Jesus Who He is. Philip just follows Jesus. Verse 44 tells us that Philip was of Bethsaida, a town whose name means “the House of Fishing”. Both Andrew and his brother Peter live in Bethsaida, and it’s possible that they were all partners in the same fishing business. Yet Philip does not go to either Andrew or Peter, but to Nathanael.

Why did Philip go to Nathanael? I believe it was because not just Philip, but Nathanael was searching out and praying that the Messiah come. Though the text does not specifically state it, I believe that Nathanael was praying under a fig tree when Philip found him. Perhaps Philip and Nathanael were brothers in faith, who had often met and prayed that Israel would be saved from her sin, and restored to her land along with her King. When Jesus comes to Philip, Philip just knows this is the Messiah. The Holy Spirit confirms Jesus to his heart. And Philip with joy runs to where he and his friend Nathanael had often prayed for their fallen country.

John 1:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Word Study: Here’s that word heyriskō again. Philip finds his friend praying under a fig tree, and says, We have found (heyriskō) him. Nathanael, we’ve been looking for the Messiah. We’ve studied Him through the writings of Moses in the law, and the prophets”. Our search for the Messiah is over – He is Jesus of Nazareth. The great Preacher C.H. Spurgeon said of Nathaniel:

“… Nathanael was an earnest seeker. Philip found him out because he felt that the good news would interest him. “We have found the Messiah,” would be no gladsome news to any one who had not looked for the Messiah; but Nathanael had been expecting the Christ, and perhaps had so well understood Moses and the prophets, that he had been led to look for his speedy coming. The time when Messiah would suddenly come in his temple had certainly arrived, and he was day and night with prayer, like all the faithful of the ten tribes, watching and waiting for the appearing of their salvation. He had not as yet heard that the glory of Israel had indeed come, but he was on the tiptoe of expectation.”

When Philip revealed that the Messiah was Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, Nathanael responded

John 1:46And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

For Whom Did Christ Come?

Some of the commentaries I read suggested that Nathanael was being a smart aleck or rude, but I don’t believe this is the case. Nazareth is in the Southern part of Galilee. Galilee was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles”, because there was a large population of Gentiles (non-Jewish people) living there. Nathaniel and Philip had studied about the coming of the Messiah, and knew the prophecies of Micah, that when Messiah came:

Micah 4:1-2 (ESV) It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2 and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

When Messiah came, Micah said that there would be peace in the land of Israel:

Micah 4:4 (ESV) … they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

Nathanael is under the fig tree praying that the Messiah would come. Oh, that the Christ would come and save His people. Then Philip says, “We’ve found the Messiah – He’s from NAZARETH”. But here’s the problem.

Nathanael has studied the prophesies of the Messiah and His coming. He knows from Micah the prophecy that Messiah would come from BETHLEHEM. Bethlehem is the City of David, the place where the Ruler – the Christ – would come from.

Micah 5:2 (ESV) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

The Messiah would come to Israel from God to Bethlehem Ephrathah. We know that this is what actually happened. When the Wise Men from the East came looking for the Messiah, they came asking,

Matthew 2:2 “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star … and have come to worship Him.

The Chief Priests and Scribes quoted the prophecy of Micah 5:2 (see Matthew 2:5-6) when citing where the Christ would be born. Good Orthodox Jews knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. So when Philip told Nathanael that Messiah was in NAZARETH, his natural reply would be

John 1:46 … Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

Bethlehem is the City of David, the place of the prophecy. But Nazareth is in Galilee. Galilee was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles”. Why would the Messiah – the King of Israel – be found in Galilee of the Gentiles?

Because it was prophesied of God. God told Israel about the Coming Christ in …

Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

You’ve probably heard me preach this text during the Christmas season. It is very well known, along with the prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14). But what’s interesting about the prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 9 is what comes in the preceding context:

Isaiah 9:1-2 (ESV) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

When the Messiah came, He would be found in Galilee of the nations. When Jesus began His earthly ministry the Apostle Matthew quotes the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2, saying that when John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus …

Matthew 4:12-16 (ESV) … withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

Jesus went into Galilee of the Gentiles to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 9:2. Jesus went into Galilee of the Gentiles because He did not just come to save Israel – Jesus came to save whosoever will. The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 1:16 (ESV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The Messiah did not just come for the Jew – but for the Gentile as well. Jesus is the:

John 1:29 … Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

1 John 2:2 (ESV) {Jesus} is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only {begotten} Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 11:25 (ESV) … I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live

1 Timothy 2:6 (ESV) {Jesus} gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Jesus came building the Kingdom of God. As sinners are led of God to repent and surrender to Christ as Lord and Savior, they become citizens of the Kingdom of God – and Christ is our King. When the Apostle John looked into Heaven from the Isle of Patmos, what did he see?

Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV) … I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Our Lord Jesus commanded us just before ascending into Heaven:

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Nathanael’s confusion is understandable, but Jesus came not just for Israel – but for all who will receive Him as Lord and Savior.

God The Son Saw Nathanael Under The Fig Tree

Philip did not argue with Nathanael, but simply said:

John 1:46-47 … Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is NO guile!

Word Study: As Nathanael comes with Philip to see Jesus, when he gets to Jesus our Lord says, “Here’s an Israelite in whom there is “NO GUILE. The word GUILE is the Greek dolos, which means “deceitfulness, craftiness, trickiness”. Nathanael wasn’t like so many today who, saying one thing, he means another. The Bible tells us that God’s standard is that we:

Ephesians 4:15 … speak the TRUTH in LOVE …

We live in a day where people are deceitful, who use word games to get around and twist the truth. Nathanael was not like that. He spoke the truth, without trying to cushion it, or hide his meanings. When Jesus said “You are an Israelite who is not tricky or deceptive”, our Lord was probably thinking of the Scribes and Pharisees who twisted truth to suit themselves. Nathanael replies:

John 1:48 … Whence knowest thou me?

How do you know me, Jesus? Jesus replies:

John 1:48 … Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

When Philip came to see you – I was already there, watching you! I saw you under the fig tree. I saw you praying there. I heard what you said to Peter about Me. I’m not mad about it – it was honest. Though I was no where around – I was there. You know why … I’m the Messiah.”

I can imagine chills going down Nathanael’s spine. This is not just some Rabbi from Nazareth. Jesus is more. He is the Messiah, the Son of God. Nathanael says:

John 1:49-51 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

In Genesis 28:12 Jacob (who would be called Israel) dreamed about a ladder between Heaven and earth. Angels went up and down this ladder to serve God. Jesus refers to “Jacob’s Ladder”, and the truth that He is the Door to Heaven. No one gets to God apart from Jesus Christ. What a wonderful truth this is!

If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, today is the day of salvation. Jesus is watching you. Jesus knows you. Do you know Jesus? If not, turn to Him today. Repent of your godless way of life, and believe that Jesus died for your sins, and rose from the grave to be your King. The Scripture promises:

Romans 10:9-11 (ESV) … if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”


About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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