We’re continuing to look at the group of men Jesus chose to train and teach, with the end goal that they would go preach His message. They were an interesting mix with widely different backgrounds, temperaments, and even politics. But we can learn some important things about how to follow Jesus from each of them. We’ve considered the four best known disciples. Now we’ll look at what might be called the second tier beginning with Philip.
Philip’s name is Greek (like Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father) but he was a Jewish and hailed from the town of Bethsaida. He may have been a fisherman. He was close friends with Nathanael, and may have known Peter, Andrew, James and John before they were all called. All of the details we know of Philip’s character come from John’s gospel.
Philip learned that expectations can be met in amazing ways.
The Jews in the first century longed for the coming of the Messiah, and Philip was no different. When he encounters Jesus, he immediately answers the call to follow. In John 1:45 he says, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Now this may seem obvious, but for Philip to clearly declare they had found the Messiah means that he was well-read, studied up and expectantly looking for the Messiah. He was not disappointed.
If we want to follow like Philip, we need to bring our expectations. We have been told to expect Jesus’s return. Are we well read, studied up and expectantly watching for Him? If so, we will be amazed too.
Philip learned the impossible IS possible.
In John 6, when confronted with a crowd of thousands and the task of feeding them, Philip told Jesus it couldn’t be done. You can’t argue with math after all. Jesus proved otherwise, and a miracle was accomplished.
Like Philip, it is all too easy for us to limit Jesus based on what we see or how we size things up. Jesus doesn’t have those restrictions and He will always accomplish His purposes.
Philip learned how to intercede.
In John 12, a group of Greeks come to Philip and ask to see Jesus. Perhaps they reasoned because of his Greek name he was their best bet for help. Even though Philip had immediately told his friend Nathanael about Jesus back in John 1, he was unsure what to do with these guys, so he took them to Andrew and Andrew took them to Jesus. Philip found out Jesus will receive anyone who comes to Him.
If we want to follow like Philip we need to learn that anyone and everyone can be brought to Jesus, and make sure we make that a priority.
Philip learned the wonder of who Jesus is.
In the Upper Room, Jesus explains to the disciples that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. Philip cluelessly requests that Jesus show them the Father. Jesus responds, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9). Over the coming days Philip would gain a deeper understanding about who Jesus is, that is, the very Son of God.
We, too, can miss the forest and the trees. Jesus is God in human flesh come down to redeem us. He paid the price we could not pay. May that that never lose its wonder to us. May we never tire of thanking Jesus and worshipping Him simply for who He is.
Next week Philip’s friend Nathanael, also known as Bartholomew.