43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip 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."46Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" 48Nathanael asked him, "Where did you come to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." 49Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"50Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." 51And 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."
Jesus' response to Nathanael is classic. Jesus says things we would have said, in essence saying to Nathanael: "What, just because I said I saw you under a fig tree that you're saying I'm the Son of God, the King of Israel? Are you serious? Boy, you're pretty easy to please. But, you know what, because you're so impressed even with the little that you've encountered, you will definitely experience far greater, mind-stretching things. Just you watch! You'll see supernatural things like angels of God going up and down and you will see the very heavens open up right before your eyes!"
Jesus does not ridicule Nathanael for his apparent over-reaction to the prophetic word that he saw Nathanael under a fig tree. Rather, Jesus is touched by Nathanael's reaction.
When we are impressed with God for the apparently small things that He does, we set ourselves up for the greater things that follow. On the other hand, when we are not impressed with the small things, we are also prone not to be impressed with larger things.
The difference maker between Nathanael's reaction and that of, say, the Pharisees, who witnessed first-hand the miracles of Jesus, is the presence or absence of appreciative faith.
When we believe and appreciate all the wonderful things that Jesus does in our lives, we condition our hearts and eyes to see more of God at work in our lives. We see and appreciate the Lord's active involvement in our lives. When we lack this faith and appreciation, we become spiritually dull and numb to God's reality. We become spiritually obtuse. We lose spiritual sensitivity, whatever sensitivity we had to begin with.
Appreciation is so underrated in our lives. It seems to be one of those things that you can live without. Of course, gratitude, thankfulness, and humility are connected to appreciation. But, for most of us, we don't usually think of appreciation as necessary to a great life. Other things seem much more important or necessary -- gifts, talents, intelligence, opportunity, connections, wealth, education, etc.
But grow in appreciation, more specifically, appreciative faith, then the whole world before you will begin to look different. The world will look suffused with God's goodness and grandeur. And this will bring you into greater delight in God and greater love for God. Big things are based on small things. The grand edifice of your life will be built up by the brick-and-mortar of appreciative faith!
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, help us to grow in appreciative faith. May we become like Nathanael who took the little that he heard and later experienced greater things. Our appreciation of you brings glory to you and our own appreciative faith makes our lives more joyful and buoyant. Thank you for your grace and for your active engagement in all of our lives. In your name, amen.