2nd Sunday after the Epiphany

by Crossings

John 1:43-51
2nd Sunday after the Epiphany
analysis by Ed Schroeder


STAGE 1. Nathaniel’s defective vision: Mis-prioritizing Jesus. “From Nazareth? Hah!”

STAGE 2. Light-less, Life-less. Even faith-less (?) in his “believing” (v.49f.). Calling Jesus “King of Israel,” but as much in the dark about Jesus the King as Pilate is in chapter 18.

STAGE 3. A guileless, “true,” Israelite, but still disconnected from his inheritance. Knowing Moses, but not “finding the one Moses wrote about in the law.”


STAGE 4. John necessitates Christ here with the images of the “open heaven” and “ascending and descending angels.” The O.T. reference to Jacob’s ladder is clear. With Jesus even “greater things” are at hand. Note here John’s habit of taking O.T. images, linking them to Jesus, and then concluding with Jesus as “greater” than these O.T. revelatory events. Some other examples: O.T. purification water compared to Jesus’ wine (chap. 2); Moses’ brazen serpent and Jesus lifted up on the cross (3); Jacob’s well and the water Jesus gives (4); the Bethesda therapeutic pool and Jesus the healer (5); Moses’ manna in the wilderness and Jesus’s bread of life (6), etc.

To show how this “sign” of “open heaven” and “moving angels” connects with Jesus as King will take some effort. Pilate’s dialogue with Jesus on kingship can be helpful. Jesus “reigns” when he is lifted up on the cross. Easter confirms that this is indeed what happened on Good Friday.

STAGE 5. True eyesight is restored when people “see” (v. 51 – Note that the verb “see” is plural here) the open heaven, the moving angels, all linked with Jesus! Thus disciples “find” Jesus, confess him as king for the right reasons, become even truer Israelites, people who are themselves “in” the truth. Nathaniel’s initial confession (v. 49) is “fides historica.” Missing is the “my” so fundamental in Thomas’ confessing at the end of John’s gospel.

STAGE 6. Following Jesus, and thus with priorities straight, disciples continue to see–and to do–“even greater things.”


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