Tag Archives: philip

just one picture, please

Philip was a normal guy.

After Jesus invited Philip to follow him, Philip went to find his friend Nathaniel. Rather than talking about his own understanding of Jesus, Philip rooted his invitation to his friend in theology:  “This is the one Moses and the prophets pointed to.”  When Nathaniel argued, Philip merely said, “Come and see.”

When faced with a crowd of people needing food, Jesus asked Philip where they could buy it. Philip responded, “Eight months wages wouldn’t buy enough for each one to have a bite of bread.”

When someone comes to Philip and asks to be taken to Jesus, Philip goes to find Andrew. Together they go.

Philip seems to be the kind of person that doesn’t demand much, that doesn’t lead much, that doesn’t expect much.

I’m not being critical when I say that. There are way more Philip people than there are Peter people (loud, intense) or John people (working right alongside Peter and Jesus). Philip people quietly do their work. Philip people don’t worry a lot about theology, don’t get into the big arguments, don’t remember all the footnotes.

So when Jesus says,

“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip replies with:

“Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Philip’s request makes sense. Many of us travel long distances for an autograph from a famous person, for having our picture taken with the band. Philip would be happy with the glimpse of God that Moses got. Philip would be happy with once, simply, clearly, a view of God.

For Jesus, that request is a frustration. He just said that seeing him is seeing the Father. God offers supper conversations, not merely snapshots.


come and see

Philip had a bunch of information about Jesus.

He was the one that Moses wrote about. He’s one that the prophets wrote about. He’s from Nazareth. He’s the son of Joseph.

From one little conversation with Jesus, it seems, Philip knew a lot.

We guess this because right after Jesus invited Philip to follow him, Philip went to find his friend, Nathanael. And Philip told Nathanael everything he knew about Jesus. And Nathanael, responding to this sweeping review of Old Testament history, responded with “Nazareth! Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Immense significance and Nathanael focuses on the competition between Purdue and IU, the tension between Michigan and Michigan State, the rivalry between Webster and Siren.

Nathanael was from somewhere other than Nazareth, some other little town in the region. He heard one little detail that he could pick up on, that he could pick on. And pick he did.

Nathanael was exactly like us. People try to show us things, offer hope, provide information about someone who can make a difference. And we point out where they came from, what school they didn’t graduate from, what their parents didn’t do, couldn’t accomplish.

Rather than dealing with the possibility that we could be wrong, we zero in one little thing that we think we know.

And Philip provides the only possible response. He doesn’t argue. He doesn’t debate football team statistics. He doesn’t question Nathanael’s intelligence or discernment or lack of sophisticated travel.

Philip tells Nathanael, “Come and see.”

Of course, Philip could say that with confidence. Because he knew Jesus.

We work hard to convince people about facts about Jesus. We work hard to convince ourselves. Philip was convinced enough that he didn’t have to argue with his friend. Instead, he simply said, “Come and see.”

And Nathanael did.

a teacher who recruits

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.