January 29, 2014| 0

Training ‘The Vision Thing’ (John 1:43-51)

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 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 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 there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Nathanael’s conclusion is so startling, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God!” [John 1:49], that it seems to amaze even Jesus. He playfully mocks Nathanael, saying, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe?” [v. 50]

How could Nathanael possibly have known Jesus was the Son of God? It was the first time he had seen him. What could he have seen that led him to conclude so abruptly that this ordinary Palestinian Jew was the Son of God? I don’t know what Nathanael saw in Jesus, but I envy his vision—the ability to see the truth in people and events, the ability to see more than meets the eye.

What a gift this vision is in business! How often do we praise the visionary leader who appears to possess a superhuman ability to see what’s happening before others can? Leaders live or die on their ability to see the new realities facing their enterprises.

How can we cultivate this type of deeper vision? Jesus names a seminal prerequisite in saying of Nathanael, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” [v. 47[1]] “No deceit” is the key. No guile, no tricks, no posturing, no ulterior motives, no deception—those are failings that cloud vision. Those are snares that trip up schemers. Visionaries have no use for deceit. Their vision is pure, and they are willing to risk their reputations to live into it without fear for self-preservation. True visionaries avoid duplicity and double-mindedness. As Kierkegaard said, “purity of heart is to will one thing.”

To cultivate this gift of vision, we need to train ourselves to cast aside any self-serving posturing or scheming. We need to be guileless, like Nathanael. Then we can see clearly what’s before us, and develop the ability to see at a deeper level.

For reflection:

What fears or doubts might cloud your vision?
What do you see that others may be missing? How can you convey it with purity, speaking the truth in love?

 [1] Cf. Psalm 32:2; Zeph. 3:12-13

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© Bruce D. Baker 2014

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