Jesus seeing Nathaniel under a fig tree,
St Gregory's Church, Offchurch, Warwickshire,
Second half 19th century,
© Alamy / Christian Art
Jesus said to Nathanael ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, 'There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.' 'How do you know me?' said Nathanael. 'Before Philip came to call you,' said Jesus 'I saw you under the fig tree.' Nathanael answered, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.' Jesus replied, 'You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.' And then he added 'I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.'
Reflection on the Stained Glass Windows
Following yesterday's Gospel reading which spoke about being sent on mission, today's reading continues with the same theme: bringing people to Jesus. Philip brought his friend Nathanael to see Jesus. And when Jesus then met Nathanael, He revealed things to him. Today's reading speaks to us about revelation and how God looks at each one of us in the very depths of our hearts, even before we have encountered Him. He is already there, having made the first move. So when we finally think we meet Jesus for the first time, we must realise that He already knows all about us, as He has been watching us before.
We don't know what Nathanael had been thinking about under the fig tree. Maybe he was already thinking about God then? Maybe he was simply having a nap and thinking about mundane things? But his encounter with Jesus changed everything. Through what Jesus revealed to Nathanael, he was given the greatest gift possible: the start of a beautiful friendship with Jesus.
Our stained glass window at St Gregory's Church, Offchurch, Warwickshire, shows Nathanael reading under a fig tree. Philip is behind Jesus, facilitating the encounter. The background is made up of stylised scrolls and the scene is set within further borders and detailing of fig leaves.
We may all think we have hidden aspects of our lives that God doesn't see or know about. But He does know everything. Just as in our stained glass window, Jesus is walking towards us every day. We simply have to look up and greet Him, and the rest will follow.
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