This article is part of Brother Jerry Valenti’s series on the original 12 Apostles of Christ.
Nathanael is an Apostle who is primarily mentioned in the Gospel of John. His father was a man named Tolmai so Nathanael is referred to in the other three gospels as Bar-Tolmai (actually spelled Bartholomew). In John 1, Nathanael is introduced to Jesus by Philip, and their two names are then paired (as Philip and Bartholomew) in the lists of Apostles in the other three gospels.
When Jesus meets Nathanael, he greets him by saying, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47) Nathanael is surprised that Jesus knows who he is, and when Jesus says He recognized him as the man standing under the fig tree with Philip, Nathanael immediately acknowledges that Jesus must be the Son of God. We can envision Jesus perhaps smiling at this man’s simple, innocent faith and then replying:
“Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these…Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” (John 1:50-51)
In other words — You’re impressed at this minor thing? You ain’t seen nothing yet!
By saying this, Jesus is not trying to belittle Nathanael. He is encouraging him to set his sights much higher than small, simple things and to recognize that believers in Christ can expect to see the heavens open and angels dispatched to do the mighty will of God.
As believers in Christ today, we should also try to set our sights higher than the small things and recognize the power of God that is available to us. Please don’t misunderstand — I’m not saying that God doesn’t do small things for us or that we shouldn’t appreciate and recognize those small things when they occur. What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t limit God to only doing small things.
Appreciate the small blessings, but if that’s all you’ve seen so far, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Here are a few examples of what I’m referring to. But, before I begin, please, please, please don’t take this as a slight against the “small” blessings I’m describing. Any blessing from God is worthwhile and should excite all of us. But there’s so much more that God can do — and we may not even be expecting it anymore because we’re satisfied with the small things.
Occasionally, when a minister preaches from a certain scripture, someone may say that they were reading the same scripture during the week. This gives a nice confirmation to what is being preached. However, we read in the scriptures of sermons that bring everyone in earshot to repentance and baptism (as many as 3,000 on one occasion). Aren’t these the types of sermons we should be praying for God to inspire? Or do we think that inspiring two people to read the same scripture in the same week is the limit of His power?
Sometimes, when a person is about to be anointed, someone in the congregation may have a strong feeling that a certain minister is going to say the prayer — and then it happens! When something like this or other small experiences occur, it creates a nice feeling for the person being prayed for. However, if the person isn’t healed, we can’t be satisfied. The ministry has been given the power to heal the sick, not just bring about good feelings.
One of the core beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ is the establishment of the city New Jerusalem in a place called Zion. The scriptures say that “all nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:2). Are we looking forward to a time when millions of people will gather in the Lord’s house? Or are we satisfied with — or perhaps even prefer — small gatherings of just people we know? Or virtual meetings where we sit alone in our homes? It’s the power of the Holy Ghost that draws people together — how limited is that power?
Once again, I’ll say that there is nothing wrong with small blessings. However, if that’s all we’re looking for, our decisions and efforts will reflect that. Our sermons don’t need to carry the power of God — there just needs to be some type of confirmation. The sick don’t need to be healed when we pray — there just needs to be a good feeling. Our gatherings don’t need to be tools used by God to advance the cause of Christ — they just need to be something we can call a church meeting.
Even during this time of general fear and uncertainty, God is still the same and just as powerful as He’s always been. Let’s increase our faith, our hope, and our expectations, recognizing the power of God that is available to us and that is within us as the people of God. Don’t limit Him to the small things — He can do great things! And, even if you feel like you’ve witnessed great things in your life, when you compare that to what God can do — You ain’t seen nothing yet!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.