College admissions offices spend enormous energy recruiting students. Most faculty members don’t. The faculty are part of the product that recruiters sell.
“If you come here, you will get to study with Dr. X. He’s the one who wrote that famous commentary on John. In fact, he was on the translation team.”
It’s possible that if you were to visit the campus, you would see Dr. X. He may even look at you, as part of a group, and say, “Come to our great school.” But he’s doing that primarily because the school has convinced him that he needs to help recruit.
In general, teachers teach. They don’t recruit.
That was true of rabbis, too. A student would ask to follow, would hope to be taken on.
And then there’s Jesus. He’s collected three followers: Andrew, Simon, and some player to be named later (probably John). He’s heading out of town. He goes looking for Philip, find him and says, “Follow me.” (John 1:43-44)
Philip was from the same town as Andrew and Simon. They may have known each other. But they don’t bring him to Jesus, Jesus goes to him.
Relationships with people matter. It’s one of the ways that Jesus uses to connect with people. But I’m pretty sure that sometimes Jesus walks up to someone and says quietly and directly, “The rest of your friends are in my school, learning to follow me. Why don’t you come along?”
We’re going to hear more from Philip as we read through John. In fact, if you want to hear Philip stories, this is the only book to read. It’s almost as if it was written by someone who knew him well, who noticed what he said, the way only a friend notices quiet people.
But Jesus recruited him. He matters.