Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" In the modern idiom, Nathanael said something similar to, "Yeah, right. Whatever."
In contrast to Nathanael's skepticism, Philip looks to be the picture of faith. In Philip's mind he has already put Jesus together with Moses and the prophets. Of course, the only thing that John has told us at this point is that Jesus said, "Follow me," to Philip. Two little words, and Philip is set and ready to go. Now, one might say that Philip discerned within Jesus, in that first meeting that Jesus was the One who had come to save the world. The encounter is a little questionable to me.
What I see here is that Jesus had Philip at "hello," and Nathanael is skeptical. Both responses I describe as filled with spiritual immaturity. Both of them would come to faith, but not for some time later. After the crucifixion. After the Resurrection. After Jesus returned to them and breathed on them.
The season of Epiphany is about recognizing in Jesus of Nazareth the manifestation of God. We learn through the scriptures that different people have very different journeys to God in Christ. In fact, no two journeys are the same. The journeys start in different places - some start with a wandering star, a flock of angels, a falling dove, a visit at the fishing docks, a healing, a wedding etc. Each of those journeys, with different beginning points, each has a different route. Different high points. Different low points.
However, the point is that the journeys are meant to have the same ending point: Jesus the Christ.
I would venture to say that like myself, the journey for most of us began with the same immaturity that Philip and Nathanael began with. And yes, even now our spiritual immaturity pops up every now and then along the road. But we are still on the journey to go and see and follow Him.
Rev'd. Fr. Colin Humes