Devotion 73 – Thursday of Epiphany 2

Opening Prayer

The way of the upright is a highway (Pro 15:19). Lord, let me be found among them!

Text: John 1:47-51

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” 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.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Devotion

Nathanael was not just one of those of whom it is said: “Blessed are those in whose spirit there is no guile!” But there was a special simplicity of soul in him, which the Lord cannot give to all, even if they are upright and true Christians. But such people are especially precious and well-pleasing to Him. Nathanael-souls are pearls among God’s people. But there must be uprightness in all Jesus’ disciples. Only the pure eye is bright enough to see God, but it really sees Him. Sarah’s maid called the Angel of the Lord, who spoke with her: “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees”; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me” (Genesis 16:13)? The Lord’s eye was on Nathanael, and His ears had noted his prayer: “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Then Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” And he saw heaven open and God’s angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

First God comes to us, then we come to Him. First He sees us and comes down, then we see Him and go up. “This ascending and descending of the angels,” Luther says, “is precisely the mystery that God and Man are in one and the same Person. It is the great and inexpressible glory of the human race, which no one can express, that God by this wonderful union has joined human nature with Himself. So now by faith we are torn from here and become one flesh with Christ. So we ascend to Him, but first He comes down to us through the Word and Sacraments, in that He instructs and trains us in His knowledge.”5

Closing Prayer

God, give us the light of faith, a pure eye which sees invisible things, then we shall see that the mountain around us is filled with mighty heroes, more than all our enemies (2Ki 6:16), that God’s eye watches over us night and day, and that soon we are in heaven. May He grant us a simple and childlike heart and increase our faith! Amen.

Hymn

A wondrous blessing is our faith,
It gives the peace we treasure;
It comforts us in life and death
And grants us joy’s full measure.
It helps us overcome our grief,
And for our doubts we find relief
By trusting in God’s promise.

Though in a dark and fearsome hour
My sins may sore accuse me,
God shall sustain me by His pow’r
And ne’er His grace refuse me.
More than my sins His grace abound,
A truth that in His Word resounds
For all repentant sinners.

Schröder/Brorson: By faith we are divinely sure L 165:3-4 ELH 229:2-3 tr. J. C. Aaberg; Translation © 1930, 1958 Lutheran Intersynodical Hymnal Committee. Used by permission of Augsburg Fortress.;
tune: Rung

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