I am writing to you today to continue to charge each of us with the Mission and Vision of Sterling. This month we will focus on the “Encounter Jesus” idea. I want to take us to the first chapter of John’s gospel. John tells us the story of many of the disciples being called by Jesus, each of them had different encounters, yet all had a similar response… deciding to follow. Nathanael’s encounter of Jesus is a very interesting one.
Several disciples witnessed miracles and decided to follow. Some were rescued from menial lives and called to great service. In Nathanael’s story his brother Philip has encountered Jesus and went to find Nathanael to tell him. You can read the whole story in John 1:43-51. Philip claims that they have found “the one Moses wrote about”, the Messiah. I think for many of us if we were talking to one of our siblings and they dropped the bomb on us that “they had met the savior of the world today” we might not know how to react. It seems that Philip is at least convinced of who Jesus is, but not Nathanael. He doubts and questions “can anything good come from Nazareth?” One of the great things about Jesus is that He is not afraid or offended when we doubt and question. Read what happens next… “When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” (Jn 1:47-49) Do you see the change in Nathanael? He now believes because, though he did not yet know Christ, Christ already knew him. That fact alone was enough for Nathanael to decide to follow Jesus.
Many of us, at points in life, have had doubts in our faith. Faith and doubt are like opposite ends of a teeter totter, with less of one there is more of the other. When we encounter the living Christ all of that begins to change. We too must make a decision to move forward and follow Him or to walk away alone. Like Nathanael though, Jesus knows us even before we meet Him. So what is your fig tree? Jesus said He saw him while still under the fig tree… I wonder what
Nathanael was doing there? What did Jesus see, or know about him? I know the Sunday School answer is “everything”. But do you really believe that? If so, then what does Jesus know about you? Again, what is your fig tree?
Encountering Jesus changes everything. We come to realize that there is “One” who can change our eternity and our present life all at the same time. One who, when we meet Him, we want to find others and tell them. One who knows everything about each of us and yet loves us just the same. Have you encountered Him? Will you follow Him?