Summary: God knows us intimately because He entered our common life in the person of Jesus and gives even those who lives on life’s margins opportunity to mediate God’s love.
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17 Page 794, BCP
LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.
You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.
My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
they were fashioned day by day,
when as yet there was none of them.
How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
how great is the sum of them!
If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; *
to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 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.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 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.” 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.”
One theme running through today’s readings from Samuel, the Psalms, to Nathaniel’s response in John chapter 1 is that we are known, thoroughly known by the Lord.. A line from our liturgy addresses God as one “from whom no secrets are hid.” This is both a source of consternation when we feel we deserve judgment and it is a source of confidence when we are alone in a hard place and in need of consolation.
I. Our Lord knows us because he has walked where we walk.
III. He learned obedience by the things he suffered.
He knows our frailty, our temptations, our suffering. (Hebrews and Isaiah 53)
God only knows, is a common phrase in our conversation. We use it when exasperated, and follow that saying with the phrase “and He isn’t telling.” God only knows and he isn’t telling is our cynical response to being alone in this world.
We feel, as our poets and novelists have expressed, that we are alone in the world; unknown and unknowing.
“How do you know me” was the question Nathaniel put to Jesus on their first meeting.
How do you know me is a great question to ask God. How do you know not only technically, but from the aspect of thoroughness and with what concern.
God knows because He entered into our life. He knew hunger and thirst and anger and disappointment and suffering and humiliation and death with brigands on a cross while being mocked by the government and the crowds.
Isn’t that our greatest complaint? Here we are, working our hearts out and no one notices or cares. Isaiah, I believe said it well in Isaiah 63, at the end of his Suffering Servant Poems. The Suffering Servant poems tells us God knows our frame that we are dust, that God understands human suffering.
But God knows something more that the world doesn’t know at all, and that Christians sometimes forget.
Finally, finally there will be a day of retribution of vindication.. Isaiah 53 is well known to Christian because of the Lenten, and Good Friday readings. Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows. . . .we looked upon him whom we had pierced….he was wounded, pierced for our transgressions, bruised-tortured for our iniquities. . .He was despised and rejected by men. . .by his scourging we are healed. We had all strayed like sheep. . .but the Lord laid on Him the guilt of us all. He was afflicted, he submitted to be struck down and did not open his mouth. . .he was led like a sheep to the slaughter.