“As they approached, Jesus said, ‘Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.’ ‘How do you know about me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, ‘I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.’ Then Nathanael exclaimed, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!’ Jesus asked him, ‘Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.’ Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.’ ” (John 1:47-51, NLT).
Almost all the words spoken by Jesus and recorded in the Gospels quote Old Testament Scriptures or make an allusion to an Old Testament story or event. That is the case here with the calling of Nathanael as one of Jesus’ disciples.
“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” During political campaigns, signs begin to be posted everywhere advertising a person running for a certain office. The miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana was Jesus’ first miracle and a sign, as John referred to Jesus’ miracles. It was not a public miracle but rather a miracle to be seen and understood by a select few–His disciples. The miracles of Jesus that John included in his gospel were signs that attested to His identity as Messiah and Son of God and generally meant to lead unbelievers to faith (see vs. 23). The miracles or signs John writes about revealed Jesus’ divine nature by the performance of an exceptional or outstanding accomplishment: a large quantity/high quality of wine (2:6, 10), the official’s son healed over a long distance (4:47, 49–50), the invalid’s recovery from a 38-year medical condition (5:5), the large quantity of food produced (6:13), the man’s recovery from lifelong blindness (9:1–2), and the raising of Lazarus from the dead (11:17, 39). While these miracles showed the glory of Jesus as the sovereign Creator and ruler of the universe, He is still working personal and private miracles today in the hearts and lives of individuals. His signs are posted everywhere advertising that He can be your Savior.