John 1:45-51 (NIV)
45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth,the son of Joseph.”
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
God does not discriminate
What an exciting moment for Philip. He wanted to share with his friend that the prophecies had been fulfilled in Jesus, and that they have found him. However, Philip’s enthusiasm is met with rejection.
Nathanael’s incredulous attitude about who Jesus was is very similar to how our own society doesn’t value those who exist in the margins. Generally, society uplifts wealth and power. The politicians, those in government, corporations are the creators of rules in this exclusive society.
As a consequence, immigrants or those who are not fitting perfectly in the rigid binary boxes of who a man or a woman ought to be, are ignored and set aside. Their demands for justice are silenced. They have forgotten that the gospel centers itself in the arrival of a God to those who are forgotten. The Jesus to the reach of the shepherds; the Jesus who dines with the tax collectors; the Jesus that walks with the lepers. He is our brother Jesus who talks to women and Samaritans.
When Jesus makes Nathanael to regret his ignorance, Jesus does it without arrogance. Jesus simply shows Nathanael that he knows who he is. Jesus doesn’t humiliate Nathanael. He doesn’t want to take revenge on him for having questioned his divinity. Maybe this passage is showing a way to react when our mere human and divine dignity is being questioned for those in power. It is difficult to remain peaceful when we are being discriminated for reasons we can control as our orientation or ethnicity. It is vital to remember that God loves us as we are.
One time when I was in law school, a professor told me: “A person who speaks English in the way you do, couldn’t have written a paper like that one you are presenting. So tell me who wrote it for you?” It was real painful moment for me. However, I knew I was giving this career my all and that this unfair questioning wasn’t going to stop me to become a lawyer. This humiliation fueled my determination to show people like this professor I have every right to an education.
We are the most precious creation for God. Jesus was not born in a palace. To see Jesus all that was needed was faith and an open heart.
Prayer: Beloved God, allow us to always have an open heart to welcome all our brothers and sisters in humility and love. Help us to lift them up in front of those in power and to let them know how loved they are from you. Amen.