43. Meeting Philip

Short Meditations in John 1:  43. Meeting Philip

Jn 1:43    The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus’ criteria for who he chooses to follow him is never spelled out in the Bible. I usually assume he calls those who he knows will respond and follow him – and it is this way round. We sometimes hear people say, “I found Jesus” but actually the truth is that he found us and called us by his Spirit and we then, and only then, responded.

As unsure as we are about the location of where John was baptising people and where Jesus had been staying in the nearby vicinity, one thing we are told by inference is that it was NOT Galilee and therefore must have been somewhere in Judea (Mt 3:1) because we read, “Jesus decided to leave for Galilee”.

The other question mark over this verse is the start, “The next day.” This is the third time in a few verses that John uses this phrase. John had been baptising and questioners came. “The next day” (v.29) Jesus came and was baptised. “The next day” (35) Jesus was passing by, and now a third time, “the next day” Jesus decided to leave for Galilee.  We are left with a sense that this all happened fairly quickly and yet all in one day, but spread over several days for Jesus clearly stayed where he was at least for a couple of days.

But now deciding to leave for Galilee, he finds Philip. Philip, we will see shortly, also comes from Galilee and being here in the south we must assume he’s yet another of this group that seems to have come down to see John the Baptist. Philip is named among the twelve (Mt 10:3), is the one challenged by Jesus about food to feed the large crowd (Jn 6:5), and was the one approached by the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus (Jn 12:21). He was also the one who asked Jesus to show them the Father (Jn 14:8).

His somewhat negative response about lack of food to feed the crowd (Jn 6:7), the fact that he handed the Greeks on to Andrew (Jn 12:22), and his questioning of Jesus, rather suggests a man who is not strong in his faith and slow to understand, a man not in the inner circle and who needs the encouragement of those closer to Jesus. Now Jesus would have known all this about Philip and so despite all this Jesus calls him to follow and become one of the twelve. Take encouragement in that Jesus doesn’t call perfect people. He knows our shortcomings but those will not put him off blessing and using you.

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