John 1:43-50(NKJV) The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 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.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”
In the passage proceeding John 1:43-50 Jesus had just recruited Simon Peter and his brother Andrew and was headed to Galilee. He found Philip and said “Follow Me.” Well Philip wasn’t going alone so he goes to Nathanael and says that he’s found the Messiah, the one Moses and the prophets wrote about. Philip mentions that Jesus is from Nazareth and Nathanael, perhaps scornfully, replies “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip then tells him to come and see for himself. Then Nathanael meets Jesus and Jesus knows him already. Nathanael wants to know how He knows him. Jesus tells him that He saw him under a fig tree before Philip called him. Nathanael then professes his belief in the Christ saying “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus scolds him saying, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” Jesus is saying don’t just believe based on a small thing. Jesus could’ve recognized Nathanael from actually seeing him sitting under a fig tree the day before! Jesus’ reprimand is warning against believing based on something anyone could tell you. If your belief is based on something like that, it will be short lived. Deep faith is based on seeing and experiencing the deep things of God.
The New Testament is full of references about seeing and believing. In fact John’s entire gospel is constructed around seven miracles which John records so that one may see and believe. Our current generation is a special breed of believers because although we may not have seen these same miracles yet we believe. Miracles, signs, and wonders still exist today, but many believers see or recognize them after coming to Christ. Let us be vigilant about observing such miracles today so that we may increase our own faith and witness to others through these signs.