Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, believe you?…
I. OUR LORD'S PROMISE TO HIS NEW DISCIPLES. The words may be translated either as a question or an affirmation. In either case they are a solemn and glad recognition of Nathanael's belief. Here is the first time that Christ uses the word. It was the epoch in history when Christ first claimed and then accepted a man's faith. The "greater things" have a proper fuifilment in the gradual manifestation of Christ's person and character which lay all unrevealed yet. "If you continue to trust in Me," you shall see unrolled before your eyes the great facts which will make the manifestation of God to the world. Light is here thrown upon —
1. The relation between faith and discipleship.
(1) The two terms are synonymous.
(2) Our Lord uses the word without any definition of what they were to believe: He Himself, and not thoughts about Him, is the true object of faith.
(3) Nathanael's creed was widely different from ours, and yet his faith and ours are identical.
2. The connection between faith and sight. There is a great deal about seeing in the context. A double antithesis:(1) "I saw thee" — "thou shalt see Me."(2) "Thou believest" — "thou shalt see;" i.e, in the loftiest region of spiritual experience you must believe first in order that you may see.
(a) Unless we trust Christ and take our illumination from Him, we shall never behold a whole set of truths which when once we trust Him are all plain to us: God, man, yourselves, duty, destiny.
(b) If we trust Him we get light on things which are mist and darkness except to faith. The world says,"Seeing is believing," — which is true in regard to outward things. Believing is seeing in regard to God and spiritual truth.
3. The connection between faith and progress. Christ like a wise Teacher stimulates His disciples with the promise of "greater things." Here is something which will give you ever new powers and acquirements, and ensure you against stagnation. Everything else gets worn out sooner or later.
II. OUR LORD'S WITNESS TO HIMSELF. Mark how with superbly autocratic lips He bases this great utterance upon nothing else but His own word. "From henceforth," i.e, from the first hour of His official work. The promise is that in no vision of the night like Jacob, hut in practical, working reality ye shall see that ladder again, and the angels moving upon it in their errands of mercy. The ladder is Christ; He is the sole medium of communication between earth and heaven, the ladder with its foot on the earth, in His humanity, and its top in the heavens.
(1) Christ is the medium of all revelation. (.2) In Him the sense and reality of separation between heaven and earth through sin are swept away.
(3) By Him all Divine blessings angel-like descend.
(4) By Him prayers and desires rise to God.
(5) If we ever enter heaven at all we shall enter it through Him alone.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.