I have mentioned before that sometimes we hear a word or a phrase that we have never before heard and then we hear it over and over. It is as if the word or phrase is meant for you to hear and discover for some reason known only to the universe. I heard the phrase “throwing shade” for the first time last week. I don’t even remember where I heard it the first time because I heard it several times after that. It is interesting because at the time I was thinking about fig trees and Nathaniel being called by Jesus. It is in John 1 –
43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 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.” 46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Nathaniel sitting under the shade of a fig tree is “throwing shade” at Jesus who he hasn’t met because of where He is from. Throwing shade in the urban dictionary is defined as “talking trash about a friend or acquaintance, to publicly denounce or disrespect. When throwing shade it’s immediately obvious to on-lookers that the thrower, and not the throwee, is the bitcy [sic], uncool one”. Nathaniel is giving the business to Jesus and hasn’t even met His yet, Phillip recognized the blunder with the simple retort; “come and see”.
You get shade under a fig tree. You can throw shade from under a fig tree. You can hide there too. The leaves have been famously used to cover folks who were naked and afraid. Fig trees get cursed if they don’t have fruit (Mark 11:12-25). Interesting concepts there. The ancient idea of happy blessedness was sitting under ones own fig tree (Micah 4;4). It meant safety, peace, and well being. It could also mean self righteous, self satisfaction, and the ability to throw shade at others. Adam and Eve who heard the shade being thrown at the Lord who made them the crown of His creation fell for it and ran to a fig tree for safety and peace and security. They were “foolish” is the shade I would throw at them and we have been playing games with fig leaves ever since.