Lessons from the Life of Philip
Philip illustrates two lessons for us today from a handful of passages in John. These lessons may not be the primary points of the passages that we will consider, but they are nonetheless good reminders for us today.
Those who seek the Lord will find Him.
Jeremiah 29:13 promises, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” When telling Nathanael about Jesus, Philip claimed, “We have found Him” (John 1:45). He must have been searching for Jesus to say he had found Him.
Perhaps we could say that Philip found Jesus in multiple ways.
First, Philip found Jesus through the message of John the Baptist. Philip was from the same city as Andrew (John 1:44), a disciple of John the Baptist. Philip likely heard John the Baptist preach and was waiting for the Messiah as a result.
Second, Philip found Jesus in the Scriptures. When Philip went to bring Nathanael to Jesus, he motivated him to come by identifying Jesus as “Him of who Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote―Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). Philip knew what the Old Testament said about the coming Messiah. Whether from the synagogue, John the Baptist, personal study, or all of the above, he believed truths and was waiting for the Messiah.
Third, Philip found Jesus in person. Jesus first “found Philip,” and when He did, Philip later said, “We have found Him” (John 1:43, 45). Philip’s wait was over. Now He followed Jesus who he found and followed Him in person.
Like Philip, we find Jesus in the Scriptures and biblical sermons. Though we do not presently see Him with our eyes, we love Him and will see His face one day (1 Peter 1:8–9; Revelation 22:4). May God help us to see Jesus now in the Word, and may we persevere until we see Him in person in time to come.
Jesus is greater than we often think Him to be.
As one of the twelve apostles, Philip learned many things about Jesus. From passages that specifically record Philip interacting with Jesus, we see Philip learned that Jesus was greater than he thought in three ways.
First, Jesus is greater in power. John 6:1–14 records Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand. Just before His miracle, He asked Philip where to buy bread (John 6:5). Philip apparently forgot Jesus’ power to turn water to wine at Cana and focused only on the magnitude of their dilemma—it would cost a fortune to feed so many (John 6:7). Then, Jesus performed His miracle, and Philip saw His power again.
Second, Jesus is greater in love. John 12:20–21 recalls the request by some Greeks to see Jesus. Perhaps unsure of whether he should let them meet Jesus or whether Jesus would want to meet them, Philip sought Andrew instead (John 12:22). Andrew knew Jesus would love these Greeks and gladly speak to them about how to have eternal life (John 12:22–26; cf. 1:41). Whatever doubts Philip had about letting these Greeks meet Jesus, they were laid aside when Jesus received them and gave them the words of life.
Third, Jesus is greater in person. In explaining His coming departure to the disciples, Jesus taught them that to know Him was to the Father as well, which further meant that they would one day be with Jesus again (John 14:1–7). Philip responded by asking to see the Father, prompting Jesus to teach on the matter again—to see Jesus was to see the Father because Jesus was in the Father and His Father in Him (John 14:8–11). Jesus was greater than Philip realized, and Jesus patiently taught him more of who He was.
Like Philip, we often forget how great Jesus is. We forget how powerful He is, how loving He is, and truths about Him in Scripture. May we often remind ourselves about His power, love, and person and know Him as the Bible reveals Him to be.
All quotes ESV
About David Huffstutler
David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.