John 1:43-51 Philip and Nathanael
Jesus calls His next disciples today. Jesus leaves the region of Bethany and ends up in Bethsaida. I just realized that Peter and Andrew met Jesus in Bethany that day. I wonder if they accompanied Him back to their home town. I wonder what Philip and Nathanael do for a living. We know Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John were all fishermen. What about these two? Did they know Peter and Andrew beforehand? I’m assuming they did because of it being a small town. Sorry, on to our story.
Bible scholars have put headings into our bibles to help us track the changes and topics as we read. In my bible, yesterday’s scriptures had the topic title “Jesus calls the first disciples.” Today’s reads “Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael.” But I noticed something in the text as I was looking at these two stories.
When Jesus is speaking with Andrew, He doesn’t tell him to follow Him. He tells Andrew that He will show him where He is staying, since they asked. Jesus gives Simon a nick name but He doesn’t tell him to follow Him that day either. But then “Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me’” (verse 43). To me THIS is the first calling of Jesus’ disciples. Yes, the others were drawn to Him by the Spirit and they would become part of His inner circle of disciples, but He didn’t say “Follow me” at that point. To Philip He did.
Had Andrew been telling Philip about Jesus prior to their meeting? How did Philip know Jesus was the one Moses and the prophets spoke about? When Jesus told Philip to follow Him, was it at the end of a lengthy conversation or at the beginning? What was it that made Philip so certain? Whatever it was that Jesus said, Philip knew exactly who Jesus was; the One prophesied about.
Instead of sticking right to Jesus’ side Philip went in search of his brother. I believe these two men had been searching for the Messiah. “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph” (verse 45). In order to find something you first have to be looking for it.
Upon hearing Jesus’ home town Nathanael balked at the possibility of Him fulfilling any kind of prophecy. I wonder if he would have had a different opinion if he knew of Jesus’ true birthplace. Philip is so adamant about his conviction that he compels his brother to come check Jesus out for himself.
Nathanael is convinced by Jesus’ words too, but not the same kind of words that convinced Andrew, Peter and Philip. Nathanael is convinced by Jesus’ knowledge of things He couldn’t possibly know by any other means than they were revealed to Him by God. Now days He would have been accused of spying on the brothers instead.
God knows just what it takes to reach each of us. Jesus proved that in His interactions with these men. He knew their hearts. He knew they were searching for the truth. And He presented it to them in a format they couldn’t deny. No wonder they so willingly left their cares behind and joined Him.
Father God, You still know each of our hearts too. You know exactly what it takes to reach each of us. I think the first thing it takes though is a willingness to be reached. These four men were actively seeking the truth. They were ready for it when it was presented to them. Jesus, You put the “icing on the cake” with the little extras You did to draw them the rest of the way to You. I SO want to see You reaching my children and grandchildren. I’ll take whatever way You use to draw them to Yourself. I know I have to leave them in Your hands, but so often I want to put my two cents in and “help You out.” It’s hard for me to wait and watch my children’s actions. I wish I could scoop them up and take them back to their childhood where I thought they KNEW You too. Was it wishful thinking on my part? Was I blind to their truth or are they only going through a period of wondering? I take You at Your word here and stand on Your promise; “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Help me be patient. You just showed me again that I can trust You to know how to reach them. I place ALL of us back in Your hands again. Forgive me for interfering in Your timing.