45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
46 And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"
48 Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
They had not heard the gospel yet. They had not seen His death and resurrection. They had not yet understood all that He came to do for the world. They had not had the Scriptures opened to them, nor heard Him preach on the mountain nor by the sea. They had simply been called by the Son of God, and they had believed. Certainly, their faith had quite a way to go to mature into the faith of apostles of God, but these men had each had a personal encounter with Jesus of Nazareth, and they had declared their belief with a certainty that was surely born of the Holy Spirit. They named Him "Son of God" and "Lamb of God," "Rabbi" and "Lord." They called Him "King of Israel" and "Son of David," "Emmanuel," "Messiah," and "Christ." They knew Him. And He knew them.
To me, that is one of the most amazing parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that He knows who we are or were or will be, and yet He loves us and died for us nonetheless.
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God knows us--our dark secrets and public glory, our doubts and fears, our loves and joys, our rebellion and desires, our good deeds and our debt of sin--and He loves us anyway with a love that draws us to repentance and faith in His Son Jesus.
"How do You know me?" Nathanael asked. Who was this Man who claimed to know whether or not this son of Israel was honest or deceitful? Who was this Man that Philip claimed was the Prophet of whom Moses had written? (Deuteronomy 15:18-19) Who was this Son of Joseph, this Son of Nazareth, this Son of a carpenter? How could someone like Him know me at all?
8 Understand, you senseless among the people;
And you fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?
He who formed the eye, shall He not see?
10 He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,
He who teaches man knowledge?
11 The LORD knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile.
How can Jesus know us? Because God the Father knows us. Jesus knows we have been futilely fishing all night on the Sea of Galilee, knows we have been collecting taxes for Caesar, knows we have been blown this way and that in our lives, knows we have been sitting under a fig tree, waiting for a Messiah whom we doubt will ever come. Yet He did come, and despite knowing every detail of our lives, He called us to follow Him, and He poured out His blood on the cross for our sins.
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did."
Jesus told the woman at the well that He knew of her multiple marriages and her current adultery, and yet He did not offer her condemnation but LIFE. He offered her the living water of the gospel, and because He knew her and offered her salvation, she believed. And because she testified that He knew her and yet loved her, many more Samaritans believed, too.
Jesus knows who we are, knows we were once unbelieving, knows that, despite our faith, we still cry out, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24) Jesus knows who we are and where we have been, and He comes to us with a willing heart. Willing for what? Willing to bring us to the knowledge of God, willing to lift us out of the miry pit and set us on the solid rock of Himself, willing to love, willing to heal, willing to forgive, willing to save.
1 Corinthians 13:9-13
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
We know Him in part--the part we read in the Gospels, the part we know from His Spirit inside us, the part we know from the testimony of a "great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1), the part revealed to us when His gospel touches our own hearts, the part that burns like a fire inside us when we hear the Word of God--but He already knows us IN FULL. In that day when the fullness of God's work is done, when Jesus returns again to claim us as His own, then we shall finally know Him even as He already knows us: fully, completely, lovingly.
Wherever we once were, Jesus has called to us, wishing to share the gospel of peace with God. He has seen us in our daily lives, seen us at our worst and our best, and seen us not as we see ourselves but as God sees us. He knows the secret places of our hearts, and He sees there something yearning for the grace of God. He offers that grace. He offers forgiveness for where we've been and hope for where we can be. He offers salvation and mercy when all we ever thought we needed was to wait beneath a fig tree. He knows us because He is the Son of God, the Lamb of God, our Rabbi, our Lord. He knows us because He is the true King of Israel, the Branch of Jesse, the Son of David, the Prophet of whom Moses and the patriarchs wrote. He is Messiah, Christ--the Anointed One of God. He is Jesus of Nazareth, our Savior. He knows us. Let us therefore know Him.
Holy Lord Jesus, how amazing it is to me that You know me and love me, that You were willing to die for my many sins and bring me the forgiveness of Your Father in heaven. Thank You, my Savior, for knowing me, for knowing that I desired You, that I needed You. Thank You for revealing to me all that You saw inside me--my sin and my guilt, my love for You and my hope. Hope. Yes, dear Lord, thank You for Hope that will never die, for Faith that brings me to repentance, for Love that has drawn me ever closer to You. This I pray to the Son of God, to You Emmanuel: Help me to know You more, to be more like You, so that when anyone looks at my life, all that they see is You. Amen.