Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel!” Jesus said to him, “Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” He continued, “I tell all of you the solemn truth - you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:48-51 NET)
Whatever Jesus was referring to with His comment to Nathanael, it was so powerful that it immediately convinced him that He was the Messiah. He must have been meditating on the coming of the Son of God, or asking God for a sign when Phillip called him, because as soon as Jesus said that He had seen him under the fig tree, all of Nathanael’s previous skepticism vanished. A few minutes before he had questioned whether anything good could come from Nazareth, but immediately after Jesus spoke, all those doubts were erased.
Anyone who has accepted Jesus as his or her Savior has gone through a similar experience to Nathanael. Something convinced us of our need for God. For some it was seeing a demon manifest, or hearing a phrase in a pastor’s message. For others it was a word from a stranger handing out flyers, or the testimony of a dear friend. Others were struck by a sense of their own sinfulness, and their need of Jesus’ forgiveness. For C.S. Lewis, it was a late night conversation with a friend. When he got into the sidecar of his brother’s motorcycle several days later on a trip to the local zoo, he did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but by the time they had arrived, he did. For Evelyn, it was a prayer she made when she was twelve on a walk home from school, after her Sunday School teacher had spoken about Jesus in a way she had never heard before. Whatever our own personal story of conversion, we have all been blind, but through an amazing work of the Holy Spirit our eyes were opened to the truth.
Though conversion has to be one of the most significant miracles in our lives, Jesus’ words to Nathaniel were: You will see greater things than these. Our conversion is only the beginning, the first step in what should be a series of changes that transform us into powerful examples of God’s greatness. Though today’s passage is the only mention of Nathanael in Bible, besides the various listings of the twelve disciples, church history tells us that he went on to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God. In the same way, we need to be determined to make a difference in this world, building on the foundation of our conversion.