John 1:48 (I See You)

Under the Tree

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 1:1 – 4:17, 1 Chronicles 6:1-3

Relate: At my college there was a famous pond. I don’t know that anybody ever bothered giving it a name but everyone knew it why it existed. It served one purpose only. Any time any young couple got engaged that pond would come into play. If the future groom had any decent friends at all then some time in the near future he would be “kidnapped”, carried back to that pond, and thrown in. I never had the opportunity to experience that honor but for me this pond ended up serving another purpose. There was a small stream flowing out from that pond and just beyond the spot where the stream left the open and hit the treeline there was a place I would often go. In the warmer months I would frequently head there to sit and think, and pray, and wrestle with God. I called that private spot my river Jabbok. One time when I was headed back there I found that my spot had been taken. Someone else had stolen my spot and I stopped and quietly backed away before he noticed me. I knew who it was. I knew why he would have chosen somewhere to get alone and cry and my heart went out for him. I saw this other guy in an intensely emotional moment and I carried him to the Lord in prayer.

I wonder what that fig tree meant to Nathanael. Was it simply where he happened to be standing when Philip bumped into him and told him about Jesus? Based on his reaction, I have a feeling it meant more than that. Was it a favorite spot for him to get alone and think and pray? Was it a spot where he had made a decision or commitment before God? Did that fig tree call back intensely personal and emotional memories?

React: I don’t think Jesus was simply showing off His knowledge. I believe he was speaking to Nathanael and telling him that He, God, really does know and care for the deepest places inside Nathanael’s heart and soul. I think each of us have moments and “spots” like Nathanael’s fig tree. If Jesus were to say to me, “I saw you at the airport” or “I saw you as you dug the hole behind the shed” or “I saw you by the fireside” or “I saw you in the balcony” I would know exactly what he meant. Each statement would take me back to a very specific time and place. Each one would have a very different and intensely personal meaning. Yet on another level, with each God is saying the same thing. I know. I care. I love you. I see you.


God, sometimes it feels as though I am walking through this life alone. I know in my head that this isn’t true. I know that You’re there with me. You have blessed me with many amazing, beautiful people that I am honored to walk along this road with, but sometimes even in a crowd I feel alone. Sometimes, moments or memories push away that understanding that You are here with me. In those times, speak to me on a heart level. Remind me again that You love me. Show me that You care. Let me know in an intensely personal way that You see me.

10 thoughts on “John 1:48 (I See You)

  1. I’m not really sure if I have a spot like Nathanael’s tree. Thank you for posting this though, now I am inspired to find a spot and make it my place!

  2. I will never leave you or forsake you. Lo, I am with you always”…. How comforting to know that God is always there…that He knows our needs before we even ask Him……and He will supply our needs according to His riches in Glory.

  3. You are most blessed to know that you have a spot where you can go to find God waiting just for you. I’m saddened to read some of the comments that don’t appear to have this special knowledge. Declaring that “God and I have a special spot to meet” does not denigrate my knowledge that God is always with me wherever I go. For me, this knowledge heightens my knowledge of God’s presence.
    I want to be like you when I grow-up (I’m only 70 now).
    Thanks for letting me share.

  4. Beautiful post. I particularly love your prayer at the end as it echoes my own heart. There are times of great closeness when Jesus has met me in a special place (I find it’s usually when I’m by water and enjoying nature) but also knowing He is with us all the time. But also acknowledging those times when we feel alone, abandoned, yet it is not the truth. God never abandons us, ever.

    What a beautiful, heartfelt prayer which I will pray for myself. Thanks BJ. Love your blog.

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