1 John 3:11-21
For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
“[F]or God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” What a wonderful comfort in knowing how well God understands us. How often do we feel like we have to explain ourselves to God? How often do we “confess” our sins but wind up only explaining our side or the reasons why we might have sinned in the first place? But God knows us, and he created our hearts. He knows perfectly where we are coming from and what we need to hear.
When Nathanael asks Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” this could have been perceived as an insult. Nathanael might have sounded too high and mighty for discipleship, too arrogant, too judgmental. But when he comes to meet Jesus, Jesus does not use any of these words to describe him. The Lord hails him as an Israelite in whom there is no deceit. You can just see Nathanael stopping short at this and wondering how Jesus could know him so completely. When he asks Jesus about this, he simply says he saw him under the fig tree with Philip. He saw that moment that could have been insulting. He witnessed Nathanael being entirely true to himself, unfiltered and unedited. And Jesus did not merely see him, but saw through him. When Nathanael recognizes that Jesus saw to his core, he understood the presence of God in Jesus.
“Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God.” Just as Nathanael had boldness before God, we can have confidence in God’s understanding. When we seek God with sincerity of heart, he will meet us where we are. We needn’t explain ourselves, we need only to look out for God and trust in his goodness that he wants us to find him. After all, “It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” If we have confidence in this, we can have confidence that our search for God will always culminate with God. If we let him guide us, he will never mislead us.
Prayer: Dear God, you know our hearts and their ways. Help us to always seek you in sincerity of heart. May our questions always lead us to you, and may our stumbling ultimately lead us to your path for us. Thank you for your guidance and for your understanding. Thank you for your eternal love. Amen.