Under the Fig Tree
Passage: John 1:43–1:51
In ancient Israel, the phrase "under the fig tree" referred to learning at the feet of a rabbi. The underlying implication of this passage is that Nathanael was following another rabbi when Jesus called him. Nathanael’s disbelief ("Can anything good come out of Nazareth?") reminds us of the ways in which Jesus surprises us and subverts our expectations. Jesus’ declaration at the end of this passage ("you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man") reminds us of the story of Jacob’s Ladder in the book of Genesis, where Jacob has a dream of angels going up and down a staircase to heaven. Jesus is the true ladder between heaven and earth, who reveals God to us, and lifts us up to heaven.
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