I see you.

I've read a few reflections on Jesus' interaction with Nathaniel this week and am sharing some ideas from them here.

First, these verses from John 1.

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.”

Diana Butler Bass in her Sunday Musings, recalls that John 1 teems with beautiful epiphany language. In this single chapter there are more than two dozen references to light, awakening, seeing, looking, and revelation. She points out that Nathaniel's story concludes the chapter and subsequently initiates the church's story. She proposes that this is the start of the story of discipleship, the calling of Jesus' friends, and each of us, to follow him and live in the light.

When [Jesus] said to Nathanael, “I saw you under the fig tree,” he was saying, “I see YOU – beyond your shame, beyond whatever you seek to hide, beyond every bad choice you have ever made. And I see you for who you really are: without deceit.” There is no judgment, no condemnation; instead, there is an invitation to come into the light.

If God sees us thus, we should be able to see ourselves in the same way. We should not fear looking at ourselves, deeply and reflectively. Not as a fixation like Narcissus. But with honesty and acceptance and insight and forgiveness and grace.

Discipleship doesn’t begin by seeing ourselves as sinners. Anyone can do that. That’s why we hide. Discipleship begins by seeing ourselves as Jesus sees us. To see ourselves clearly — as Nathanael did — without deceit — through the loving eyes of Christ — that is the beginning of discipleship.

I see you.

How does it feel to imagine Jesus saying those words to you today? I see you.

I agree with Butler Bass that receiving and embracing and delighting in the good news that we are seen and loved and not condemned is essential to how we follow Jesus, love others, and live in the Light.

Dear child of the Light, may this prayer bless and encourage you today.

God, forgive me for thinking
I am a stranger to you.
You have known me from the beginning;
you fashioned me.
You see me from the inside;
you know me better than I do.
And you love me.
You see my preciousness when I cannot.
You know my goodness even when I betray it.
You know my brokenness and my sin,
and you heal and forgive.
You hold me in your delight.
Though my trust is flimsy,
I entrust myself to you and your grace.
May I never be a stranger to your love.

by Steve Garnaas-Holmes


Joy and Light,