“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:47-51)
When Jesus sees Nathanael, he really sees him. In fact, he sees right into him; nothing is hidden. And when he looks deeply into the heart and soul of this man, what does he bring attention to? He brings attention to what is true and what is beautiful. He sees a man being exactly who and what God truly intended him to be; nothing false. No hiding, no masking, no posturing, no proving. How beautiful is that?
And you can tell by Nathanael's response that he has truly been seen. "How do you know me?" he replies. He didn't disagree with Jesus, because Jesus had spoken to his deepest parts. Jesus had recognized what was most deeply true, and spoken into that. Not to say that Nathanael was perfect, obviously he wasn't, but what Jesus saw, and chose to call attention to, was the fact that deep within Nathanael was a longing (and an attempt) to live truly. To be the best, God-breathed version of himself.
I love this story because I live with the desire to be seen as well. Not just the screwed up, messy, insecure, neurotic parts of my self--my worst self that is--but the good and true and beautiful parts of myself. I long for those parts to be seen and acknowledged and called forth and called to life, so that I am drawn to live more and more out of my best, God-intended self more and more each minute of each day. I love that this seems to be Jesus' desire for me as well.
And not only is it his desire for me, but it is his desire for how I go about seeing and relating to others. In essence, it is what true ministry is all about: really seeing people, really knowing people, and really loving people. People are dying to be seen, known, and loved. And if we follow Jesus' example here, that is just what we will do. We will go about our days and our lives with our eyes wide open; looking beyond the surface of things and of people and seeing into their depths. And once we do, we will try to draw out and call out and call forth that which is most true and most beautiful about them.
O Jesus, give me eyes like yours this day. Eyes that see the way you see. Eyes that look into the depths of whomever is before me at the moment, and see what is good and beautiful and true about them, and then call it forth into being.