“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Phillip called you.”John 1:48
I just saw the coolest PBS documentary about Emperor penguins! After marching up to 125 miles across the sea ice, the mother must find her chick among the thousands of others in the colony. That sounds impossible enough, but it gets worse: all the chicks and their dads–who are with them–look EXACTLY alike. To find her husband and their offspring the mother issues a unique call which only her partner can identify.
“My sheep know my voice and they follow me”John 10:27
Jesus spoke these words in denunciation of a group of Jewish leaders who rejected Him. Basically, He told them, “Guys, the reason you don’t get it is because you don’t got it.”
True believers recognize God’s voice, but can He pick theirs out of a crowd? Of course He can! God is all-knowing and familiar will all of our ways (Psalm 139:3b). He recognizes our needs BEFORE we do, (Matthew 6:8) and knows the secrets of our hearts (Psalm 44:21b).
The concept of being intimately known by our creator is clear. However, what does this look like in real life?
The about-to-be disciple, Nathanael, had never met Jesus. Yet when Christ saw him approaching He said, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” — (John 1:47) Jesus saw much more than a guy sitting under a fig tree–before Phillip called him over. Clearly, the Son of God knew the character qualities of an apparent stranger. This surprised Nathanael enough for him to say, “How do you know me?”
God has this same level of intimate knowledge about each one of us.
I love Romans 8:27 and Romans 8:29. They serve like bookends for one of the most quoted comfort scriptures of all time.
(27) And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
(28) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
(29) For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.