I have previously mentioned this book on prayer that’s knocking my socks off – and I will do so again because I am just about to steal an idea from that book.
Matter of fact, I will simply quote where it expounds on the very passage in John that I read today:
[When you pray]… Become like the little children Jesus surrounded himself with. When Nathanael first hears about Jesus, he says the first thing that comes to his mind: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1: 46). It is the pure, uncensored Nathanael. When Jesus greets Nathanael, you can almost see Jesus smiling when he says, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (1:47). Jesus ignores the fact that Natanael has judged Jesus’ entire family and friends in Nazareth. He simply enjoys that Nathanael is real, without guile, a man who doesn’t pretend. Jesus seems to miss the sin and see a person. It is classic Jesus. He loves real people. p. 32 A Praying Life by Paul Miller
I cannot tell you how that paragraph moved me when I first read it, how it moves me now.
I consider myself to be “real,” by which I mean I am WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). As far as I am aware, I do not hide behind a mask. Enter brain: exit mouth. Sure, I have learned not to say everything that’s on my mind, waiting for an opportune moment to arrive (if it ever does). But it takes work.
Which is to say, like Nathanael, I have foot-in-mouth disease.
I often don’t think (if I think at all) about how my words will be perceived … until long after they exit my mouth … or I learn (usually well after the fact) that I have inadvertently hurt or insulted someone.
But to think that Jesus has a special place in His heart for folks like me!
WOW! Does that make me feel accepted and loved!
And I bet it did Nathanael, too.
After Jesus declared, “Here’s a man without guile,” Nathanael asked Jesus, “How do you know me?” (vs. 48a)
I wonder what Nathanael meant by that question? Was he thinking:
How do you know that I can’t keep my mouth shut? How do you know that I always say it like it is? How do you know that I often say the wrong thing without meaning to? How do you know that I really didn’t mean to hurt you or your family? How do you know that I’m just trying to be real – it seems like a good thing to do – but it gets me in trouble?
Wait a minute.
Nathanael asked the question about Nazareth AFTER Philip called him. And Jesus doesn’t say “I HEARD you.” No. Jesus says, “I SAW you.”
What did Jesus see in Nathanael that led him to know Nathanael?
I think Jesus saw Nathanael’s heart.
He saw a man who never meant to hurt anyone with his words, but who – like the children Jesus always welcomed – just said what popped into his mind, like that saying about Nazareth that everyone spouted off.
So many people had judge Nathanael for his words. Many had walked away from a conversation with him muttering, “What an arrogant jackass!” or “How insulting!” or “I can’t believe he just said that!”
But Jesus saw Nathanael’s heart.
Jesus knew that there was often no ill intent behind his words. That he did not ever mean to hurt others.
Jesus was able to see deeply into Nathanael’s heart while he simply sat under a tree. Nathanael knew only One person who could do that, so he declared:
Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel. (vs. 49)
Jesus saw Nathanael and He knew him.
Jesus heard Nathanael and He loved him.
Nathanael recognized the Messiah and he followed Him.
What else could he do?
And what else can I do?
Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 24:1-25:44, Psalm 60:1-5, Proverbs 16:3, John 1:35-51. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).