Posts Tagged ‘devotion’

Under the Fig Tree

As the world seems to press harder and harder for us to conform to its ways, a simple story from Jesus’ early ministry brings a profound message of hope. (John 1:45-49)

John, the baptizer, had said, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” and some of his disciples followed his pointing finger to find Jesus. From that first group of followers, Jesus began selecting those who would eventually be ordained as apostles. One of those was Philip.

Philip, understandably excited by the discovery that the Christ had come, found his friend, Nathanael. Nathanael was cautious regarding such great news, but came with Philip to investigate.

As they arrived where Jesus was talking with others, Jesus was saying to them, in a way that Nathanael could hear, “Behold! an Israelite in whom is no guile!” This was quite a compliment, but Nathanael was taken aback by Jesus’ uncommon greeting. How could Jesus have known anything about him, much less any understanding of his overall character?

He asked Jesus this question and Jesus responded, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Now, many of us have enjoyed a pleasant afternoon sitting under a tree. It’s always a place of rest and peace. The Lord used this fact in his prophecies of peaceful times of full fellowship between himself and Israel (e.g.: Micah 4:4, Zechariah 3:10).

So we find Jesus referring to a place of quietness and meditation, a place where Nathanael went to meet God. Nathanael was not like the Pharisees who held their prayer times in the busy marketplace so that all could see (Matthew 6:5). Remember, he was an Israelite in whom their was no guile, i.e., no hint of deception or ulterior motive. Therefore, his religion was an authentic effort to know the true God and build up his spiritual life. He was not like others who’s religion was only an effort to show the world their own greatness.

But now Jesus says, “I saw you.” Nathanael knows that Jesus wasn’t there physically. He was out in his orchard finding private time (note Jesus’ encouragement that we all practice this in Matthew 6:6). He was in communion with God alone, yet Jesus was there!?!

This could only mean one thing. Jesus was God! Nathanael had come to investigate Philip’s claim that the Christ had come and Jesus had given him the greatest proof that it was so.

But in Nathanael’s realization (“You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”) we find a wonderful lesson for ourselves. As the world seems to press harder and harder for us to conform to its ways, we can know that God is remaining ever present with us. He is seeing us, under our fig trees (that is, in our quiet places), and fulfils his promise to be always with us (Matthew 28:20, John 14:23).

As Israel was often pressed by her enemies, we are often under attack from worldliness. But Jesus promises to meet us in those quiet times of prayer and meditation. This is a great encouragement for us to continue (or begin, if need be) our practice of setting ourselves regular appointments with him,  opportunities to share our love and devotion, our concerns and needs, and to listen to his message of love and encouragement to us.

I encourage you to find your quiet place and quiet time for full communion with God. It will give you so much help in repelling the harmful influences of the world.