10 December 2012

Encountering Jesus ~ Found to Follow

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. (John 1.43-44)
Before looking too closely at these verses, I did a quick crash course entitled "Who was Philip, disciple of Jesus?" Where is he mentioned in the Biblical account, other than as the guy usually listed fifth in any recording of the disciples?  Some speculate (based on church tradition) Philip asked to "bury his father" before following Jesus. The text doesn't specifically identify which disciple, however. In John 6, Jesus tests Philip, asking him how they could provide a meal for the 5000 plus crowd listening to Jesus teach. Shortly after the Lord raises Lazarus, Philip helps some Greeks visiting Jerusalem for the purpose of celebrating the Passover Feast "encounter" Jesus. Philip is Greek name so possibly he spoke Greek and could function as a bridge for those foreigners desiring to interact with the Lord. Finally, Philip doubted the unity of Jesus and the Father, struggling to believe that in seeing Jesus, he had already seen God. This gave the Lord a beautiful opportunity to teach His disciples about the amazing, beyond human comprehension unity He shared with His Father. 

I was surprised at how many times Philip actually came to the forefront in the course of the Gospels. Apparently he was a more prominent disciple than I'd ever noticed before.

Once I moved on to actually reading this passage, I noticed immediately that the other three men (Andrew, an unnamed disciple - possibly John, and Peter) all sought Jesus. They had been looking and waiting for Him, finally finding Him and recognizing that He was the One for Whom they'd been searching, waiting, hoping... 

Not so with Philip

Jesus had made up His mind that it was time to return to Galilee, so He would be leaving the Bethsaida and her environs - but before He did, He found Philip. 

I was curious because you can find something - as in stumble across it... or you can find something - as in search extensively and locate it

According to Strong's, in the Greek either meaning could be inferred by the use of this particular word. However, those really smart people who write concordances and know all about Greek think that this isn't a search, discover, find scenario. Rather, it is more like Jesus was on His way and in the process fell in with... started walking alongside, if you will, Philip. That bothered me at first. A lot, in fact.

I hoped... wanted actually, to dig deep and discover that from the text, I could infer that Jesus had actively, persistently, sought Him out. (Which is, by the way, a dangerous Bible study habit - because then I can tend to try and make the Bible say what I want to say, Informing the Lord what I think He should be teaching... rather than letting Him teach and lead me.)

And I couldn't. And so I had to stop there and think and pray for a bit - actually for more than a bit. The "box" I had pre-constructed for the Lord, at least in this particular scenario, limited Jesus to actively, unceasingly seeking out those He wants to follow Him. That may be the case other times. It doesn't appear to be so here. Instead, Jesus was going about doing what His Father had Him going about to do and "fell in with" Philip.

To fall in with someone means to become involved with that individual, to concur with or harmonize with. Jesus was on His way elsewhere, but He took the time to walk alongside and join with Philip for those moments. And after those moments, He offered Philip an alternative to his present path. He invited Philip to follow Him. I pondered the implications of that thought.

Jesus walked along with Philip - perhaps only He and Philip know for how long - experienced Philip's path and direction and then with no criticism, He offered Philip a different possibility. He asked Philip to take a new road and to begin following Him. And when He offers Philip the opportunity to follow, Jesus offers Philip the path of steadfastly clinging to Him, conforming to and seeking His example in both living and in dying. 

What a powerful model for evangelism! 

Possibly, God will direct me to "fall in with" someone for a time, understand their life, their world... traveling their road together for a bit before I can invite her to join me walking the "Jesus road" as a fellow disciple of the Lamb of God. I call myself a missionary. That idea certainly bears further contemplation and discernment for application! 

How do you see this idea of "falling in with" prior to inviting others to "follow" Jesus playing out in your life?

this week's gratitude list:

(#'s 3350 - 3373) 

finally finals week is here... vacation is right around the corner!

grades mostly done and entered into the computer

a whole month off school to hang out with my kiddos, work on Elsie Mae and M&M's reading

friends gave us some white Christmas tree lights to replace the string where only the red blinking ones still functioned

a Tuscan evening

friends and Christmas doughnuts Saturday morning

Anna reading to both the K and 1st grade classes

barbecued pork in the crock pot with cornbread, corn and totally fresh, totally from scratch pineapple upside down cake for her birthday

a 12 year old who started reading Hunger Games about 2 heartbeats after she woke up that morning

new haircut

a lovely day, midweek, home with M&M ALL day!

watching Thing 2 (the boy goat) and Rebekah "fight"

purring, snuggling kitties

hearing my son should be a lawyer, which made me smile

exams written, grading keys made

students excited about math "cheat" cards

gingerbread cookies

hot chocolate with peppermint

cinnamon spiced coffee with breakfast

purging stuff

white elephant gift exchanges hilarity

looking at ticket prices and travel dates

Posts in this series:


  1. Purging stuff always feels so good. Beautiful list. Thanks for sharing.

  2. oh, i love your conclusion. what a method of evangelism ... walking beside. beautiful.

    1. thanks.

      funniest thing - i wrote the first part of this late last week. a young Muslim friend of mine was visiting over the weekend and one of the things she said was that most Christians don't know how to evangelize because they want to storm the gate and fix everyone instead of taking the time to walk along with and see the world from another's perspective...

  3. Great post! I agree with your Muslim friend. We as Christians need to walk with others before we trying "fixing" them. Sometimes those who we are "falling in with" may actually show us something that God wants us to fix about ourself. Great post :)

    1. i love your comment and so agree with it! we are as much in need of fixing as anyone we to whom we hope to minister. it is amazing how God works through others, isn't it?


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