Philip – the Organizer

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Now, we look at the next four disciples who are grouped together, beginning with Philip.

Don’t confuse Philip the apostle with Philip the deacon. Two different men.

We first see Philip in the area of the Jordan River listening to John the Baptist. Andrew and John have begun to follow Jesus.

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

This is the first time we hear those famous words from Jesus, “Follow me.” Philip had a willing, receptive heart and was even ready to go back to Galilee and share the good news with his friend Nathaniel. Philip told Nathaniel,

“We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45

It’s obvious that Philip has been a student of the Law. We’ll hear more of that discussion when we study Nathaniel next week.

The next time we hear from Philip is at the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus says to Philip,

“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” John 6:5

John lets us know that Jesus said that to test him. Perhaps Philip tends to the material needs of the disciples, arranges for meals, the organizer, or as the author John MacArthur says, “the bean counter.”

Philip is already busy figuring and counting. He says,

“Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” John 6:6

Imagine Philip’s surprise when Jesus eventually multiplies the little that Andrew came up with!


Much later, when Jesus and the disciples walk into Jerusalem in a triumphal entry, many Jews from around the world are there to celebrate Passover. Some Greeks approach Philip asking to see Jesus. Philip seems to have trouble knowing if this is acceptable and runs to Andrew. The two of them go to Jesus to report the request. Of course, Jesus offers any to come to him and reminds them they are here to serve.

The last time we hear from Philip is at the last supper. Jesus has just said,

“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:7

Then Philip turns right around and says,

“Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” John 14:8

Jesus is pretty frustrated with this. Isn’t that what he was just telling them? You’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father?

Makes you wonder how patient the Lord has to be with us. We pray; we study, we go to church, and do good deeds, and yet we act like we are clueless. Still, the Lord can take us, warts and all, and use us for His glory.

Philip, like the others, did come to understand the cross, the resurrection, the command to go, make disciples. He won many to the Lord in Asia Minor and was martyred by stoning eight years later. 

~ Joyce ~


Feeding the 5000 – Time to Eat

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Last week, we saw that Jesus had mixed emotions. He was burdened with the news of John the Baptist’s death. At the same time, he rejoiced with the disciples who had returned from their successful ministry trips in Feeding the 5000 – Before the Feast.

Now they landed on shore and found a huge crowd ready to greet them. Jesus set his mixed emotions aside and had compassion for the people. As had been his pattern, He began healing the sick one by one.

I think about the temptation Jesus had in the wilderness. Remember when Satan wanted him to jump off the high pinnacle of the Temple and let the angels catch him? What a spectacular idea that was. It would dramatically show the people his great power.

But that was not the kind of Savior God had in mind. Instead, Jesus was to work in among the people, healing one by one, ministering to individuals, teaching small groups at a time. It’s unlikely that a crowd of 5000 could all hear him at once, no matter how strong a voice He had nor how much of an amphitheater the terrain provided. 

Eventually, the people would receive physical food, but first, He wanted to feed them the food of His words.

After a long day of healing and teaching, some of the disciples grew concerned about the people because they hadn’t eaten all day and they were in a rather remote place. They suggested that he—

“Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” Matthew 14:15-16

John says that Jesus turned to Philip and asked,

“Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” John 6:5-7

About that time, Andrew spoke up.

“There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” John 6:8-9

At least Andrew looked around for a solution, but he, too, was doubtful.

Isn’t that like us? Full of questions and doubts. We get so one-sided about what can or cannot be done in a certain situation. We don’t think outside the box. What are other possibilities? Are we going to limit God? Could He possibly have a miracle in the making for us? 

Next week, we’ll watch Jesus organize and go into action.

~ Joyce ~




Peter – Name Change

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Last week (in Peter, Part One), Andrew went to his brother, Simon, and declared to him that he had found the Messiah. We are given no comment from Simon. Not “You’ve gotta be kidding!” or “What makes you think that?” or “Praise the Lord!” Nothing.

We are told that Andrew brought Simon to Jesus, so I guess he was at least willing to come and see Him.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John, you will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter.) John 1:42

Thus the beginning of name changes for a few of the disciples. “Peter” meant stone or rock. He was anything but a solid rock early on with his impulsive, unstable personality, but in Acts he became the pillar of the early church. Jesus named him not for what he was but for what, by God’s grace, he would become.

How refreshing to know that God sees beyond the meager person I am to what He knows I can become when I submit to His power in me. After all, God created you and me with the gifts, personality, and interests we have. He sees our potential. Nothing can bind us if we stay connected to the vine. He can produce abundant fruit in us.

Well, back to our story. The next day, Jesus decided to leave from the area where John the Baptist had been preaching and go to Galilee, more specifically Bethsaida, Peter and Andrew’s hometown. Jesus seeks out another hometown boy, Philip. Maybe Andrew had also talked to Philip; we don’t know.

Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” John 1:43

Philip evidently had enthusiasm and faith because he, in turn, went to find his friend Nathaniel. He told him,

“We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and whom the prophet also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45

Nathaniel gives us his famous line,

“Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46 (NAS)

Philip persuades him to come and see. Thus we hear the conversation between Jesus and Nathaniel (later called “Bartholomew.”)

“Here is a true Israelite in whom nothing is false.”

“How do you know me?”

“I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that. I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending of the Son of Man.” John 1:47-51

John, Andrew and Peter, Philip and Nathaniel. Now there are five. No matter how untrained or unrestrained we are, God sees where we can be more than where we are. He can use us whether our personality is quiet and calm or boisterous and loud. He has a plan for each of us, beyond where we are today. He simply says, “Follow me.”

Next week, we’ll go to a wedding!

~ Joyce ~