As a teenager and new believer in Christ, I was asked by my Young Life leader, “When did your journey with God begin?” Sharing how I came to believe the gospel, it occurred to me that God had been journeying with me long before I decided to journey with him. Although it now seems silly that I hadn’t conceptualized it that way, back then it was revelatory! Comprehending that God had seen, known, and loved me before I ever acknowledged him incited an even deeper level of appreciation and worship in me. In the years since, the challenge has been continuing to trust in that core truth of being intimately known by him, and to respond accordingly to the God who discerns every heart.

  • Where are you today in your journey with God? Do you believe you are seen, known, and deeply loved by him? 


47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. In verse 47, what did Jesus say regarding the character of Nathanael? 
  2. According to verse 48, had Nathanael met Jesus before? When and where did Jesus say that he had seen Nathanael? Had Philip already told Nathanael about Jesus before Jesus “saw” him under the fig tree? Now read the entire passage again, but this time substitute the word “knew” for “saw” in verses 48 and 50.
  3. What three important titles did Nathanael ascribe to Jesus (vs. 49)?
  4. How did Jesus respond to Nathanael’s outburst of belief (vs. 50)? What two supernatural events did Jesus tell Nathanael and the others they would see (vs. 51)? How would this description of Jesus being the mediator between heaven and earth have affected Nathanael’s newfound faith?
  5. What does Jesus see when he observes your heart? What would be his summation of your character? 


What an amazing peek into Nathanael’s journey with God! He had just been told by Philip to come and see the promised Messiah. Approaching Jesus, a skeptical-but-seeking Nathanael heard his character assessed by a person he’d never even met. Then came those three words that changed Nathanael forever: “I saw you…” Jesus—while simultaneously being physically present in another place—had observed the status of Nathanael’s heart under that fig tree. This Messiah didn’t just know about Nathanael but he fully knew him. In an immediate and sincere act of belief and submission, Nathanael declared, “You are my teacher, you are divine, and you are the promised king of God’s people!” 

  • Take some time to REALLY ponder the fact that God has always seen and known you as you’ve journeyed through life. Talk to God about whatever feelings being known by him conjures up.
  • Now take some time to REALLY ponder the fact that God has always loved you. If you have a hard time believing this, talk to God about whatever feelings you have regarding his love for you.
  • Praise God that you are seen, known, and loved by him!