Our verse for today comes from John 1:48, ” 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.’ “
In the 1933 Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup , there is a classic scene involving Groucho and Harpo. Groucho’s character, Firefly, is the leader of the country of Freedonia, and neighboring Sylvania is attempting to annex them. To aid in the start of a revolution, Sylvania’s leader sends two spies to Freedonia, and one scene has them both in appearance identical to Groucho, complete with fake mustache, eyebrows, and wearing the same bedclothes, socks, and nightcap. Harpo’s character, Pinky, flees Firefly but smashes into a giant mirror that separates two rooms. Discovered, Pinky stands on the opposite side of the opening where the mirror was and begins to imitate every move of Firefly, trying to convince him that what he is seeing is truly a reflection of himself. Confused, skeptical, and generally bemused, Firefly begins a series of movements and actions to ” test ” whether the image he sees is really that of himself. Pinky is ingenious in his ability to mimic and anticipate the various walks and positions Firefly assumes, even reproducing wild dance moves and the adding of a hat to the scene. Ultimately, the second spy happens onto the scene, and the jig is up.
Mirrors can tell us much. One-way mirrors, like the ones commonly seen in interrogation rooms, are intended to provide information to the unseen folk in another room. Jesus, without the use of a mirror or any trick or deception, saw Nathanael before Nathanael saw Him. In fact, Jesus apparently saw Nathanael before it should have been possible for him to be seen, for Nathanael’s reaction to Jesus’ explanation gives a sense of the miraculous having occurred. And nothing short of the miraculous can bring a non-believing skeptic to confess that One is the Son of God. Philip went and found Nathanael, and invited him to come and see, but Jesus did the saving. There is a role that you and I must play, but God is there to do the heavy lifting. Even before we call someone, Jesus already sees them.
As we seek Him today, take comfort that God is at work even before you choose to talk to or invite someone for the sake of the gospel. He has seen what you will do.