44. Common Background

Short Meditations in John 1:  44. Common Background

Jn 1:44  Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.

It is interesting but we don’t know what Philip did in life. Andrew and Peter, the Synoptic gospels tell us, were fishermen. Bethsaida is thought to have been a fishing village on the west coast of the sea of Galilee. It is probable that most people knew everyone else in such a community and they probably knew of each other even if they might not have been friends. Was it that they all came together from Bethsaida to visit John the Baptist? Did they come down to Jerusalem, at a feast time that was acceptable to the rest of the home community, and then stop off to see John the Baptist?

As so often in Scripture we are only given the bare bones of the story and so there are lots of questions to which we are not given answers, but those don’t detract from the main story. But these men are Galileans and it will be in Galilee that Jesus will start and continue his main ministry, far away from the critical eyes in Jerusalem. And if he is going to work in Galilee and he is going to draw a group around him to help him and be taught by him, and who will continue the work when he is gone, then he had better draw locals to him, locals whose hearts are already inclined to God. Such men Jesus finds here, further south, men who have come seeking John the Baptist, men whose hearts have been prepared to receive him.

Whereas the Synoptic Gospels show us Jesus calling these fishermen from their boats on the Sea of Galilee, John shows us that there is history before those incidents, history that shows their hearts were prepared and ready for Jesus.

What do these things say to our lives today. Well, as a direct follow on, we realise that when we came to Christ, and responded to his calling, the Holy Spirit had already been preparing us. Some suggest that when we responded to a talk or a conversation, there had been anything between six and ten previous ‘contacts’ or links previously, things that gradually prepared us to face the truth about us and our need of him.

But there is also this thing about the lack of knowledge about Philip. This says we don’t have to be well-known stars or celebrities of the Christian world for God to use us. Philip was part of Jesus’ strategy to develop the kingdom – and so are you! It doesn’t have to be a ‘big part’ to be a significant part. Rejoice in your part in his plans.

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