Reflections for the Week of Sunday January 14, 2018 Second of Epiphany

Gospel: Jn 1:43-51 tells of Nathaniel’s call to be an apostle and his encounter with Jesus. Jesus, fully man and fully God, two natures in one Person, had mysteriously seen Nathaniel under his fig tree and said he was a ‘true Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathaniel who had earlier asked if anything good could come from Nazareth?, was so amazed by Jesus’ insight about him that he said “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus had made a similar impression on Andrew and John (see vv 37-42). Jesus said to Nathaniel, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?  You will see greater things that 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.” Jesus is apparently referring back to the experience Jacob had at Bethel (‘the House of God’) when he was fleeing from his brother Esau after cheating him out of his father, Jacob’s, blessing. It was a moving scene for Jacob in which he felt and experienced God’s presence and His blessing (Gen 28:10ff). It seems that Jesus is telling  Nathaniel that he, too, will see the junction of heaven and earth as a he becomes acquainted with Jesus. The Temple where God dwelled on earth was thought to be the place where heaven and earth intersected and where Israelites could encounter God’s presence. Jesus seems to be telling Nathaniel that He, Jesus, is where heaven and earth are joined and here in Him God and man can meet. Actually Scripture has told that God was seen to leave the Temple in BC 586 in human form returning at last as many Scriptures had promised. Jesus prophesied that the Temple would be destroyed and that He, Jesus, would raise it up in three days (Mk 14:58; Jn 2:19-22) referring to His body. Jesus going into the Temple and throwing the money changers out was an “acted parable” prophesying its destruction because it had become a den of robbers rather than a house of prayer. The prophecy would be fulfilled in AD 70. And God would dwell not just in the Holy Land but throughout the whole world wherever there were believers who had received the Holy Spirit in regeneration. The coming of the Spirit on Pentecost, ten days after the Ascension of the Lord, is one of the most significant reasons the Lord Jesus had to die on the cross. His death caused the remission of sins in believers and inaugurated a new creation marked by the coming of the Spirit and the coronation of the King of Kings on the cross. When Jesus died and proclaimed, “it is finished,” He probably was referring to the new creation that He was launching. The old creation described in Gen 1-3 resulted in sinful man and now with the new creation based on Jesus’ remission of sins, the justification of believers, the reign of the Messiah, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers, the kingdom of God was established on earth with followers of Jesus acting as a royal priesthood throughout the earth as in heaven. Nathaniel was one of the first Apostles to be called and given the vocation to spread the kingdom to the glory of God and fulfillment of human potential as God’s agents on earth.

Memory Verse: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood , a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

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