The following is a lesson I was privileged to teach last night at our Church, Point Of Mercy in Nashville, Tennessee. Our Senior Pastor Denny Livingston asked me to speak, and I was blessed to share the lesson People Finders.
John 1:43-45 (ESV)
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
There are two primary people in our lesson tonight. There will be some others, but the main focus will be on two people. It should be no surprise that One of them is Jesus.
When I ask the kids in KidsPoint Who we talked about that day, no matter the text, they respond with Jesus. If we do teach correctly, we are never wrong, no matter the text. As you know, our topic is always Jesus, no matter the text.
Jesus has spent every moment from the fall of man pursuing us, not out of judgement, nor out of His own need, but out of love. He loved us because He is love. It is His nature to pursue us, to find us, to have us with Him.
Always remember, life is about relationships, with God, and with others. God will call you to do some things, but His primary call is not your work, but to you. He made us to do some things, but you are more important to Him than what you do.
You have to know that, for a couple of reasons. First, you won’t always do what you are doing now. Knowing that Jesus loves you, for you, will keep you from allowing your identity to be based on your calling. Second, in those seasons of discouragement, when it looks like everything is going wrong, a relationship with Jesus will keep you when nothing else appears to be working.
The second person in our lesson tonight, is Philip The Apostle. He appears to be a friend of Jesus. I say that because, unlike the two Disciples who follow Jesus because of John, we don’t see an event bring Philip to Jesus.
We see Jesus seeking Him, without a record of introduction, because when Philip tells Nathanael about Him, Philip knows not only Jesus, but Joseph as well. Philip was a citizen of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Jesus does something very specific at the beginning of Philip’s introduction in the book of John, where our text is. As an outline for tonight, I’d like to make five statements.
• Jesus Found Philip before the crowd
• Jesus Found The Family At Nain, and took the crowd
• Jesus Had The Disciples Find The Boy to feed the crowd
• Jesus alerted The Disciples to the need of The Widow apart from the crowd
• Philip and Andrew brought the Greeks to Jesus and He spoke to the crowd
This leads me to my text tonight in John 1:43-45. The Bible says that Jesus decides to go to Galilee, and the very next thing He does, He found Philip. The word decided implies there was a question in Jesus’ mind, but we know The Bible says Jesus knew what He would do ahead of time.
The word decided also means delighted. Jesus wasn’t looking forward to the pain of the cross, but He was looking forward to opening up The Word to mankind. He was excited about people saying I was found by The Master, and later on people being found by His Disciples, and brought to The Master.
The word found implies something is lost, but understand Jesus never lost Philip. Jesus never lost us. Adam and Eve lost things in the garden, but God was still God.
He didn’t pursue us because He had a need, He pursued us because we had. Now, God felt a void in His heart, because He loved us so much. He ached for us because He loves us, and since then, has spent every moment reaching out to us.
What was it about Philip that The Lord Jesus said, I’m going to Galilee, and Philip is going to go with me. We know that The Lord Jesus was in the business of finding people. We know that He came to seek, and to save that which was lost. We know that, even as a child in the Temple, He was asking questions of the Doctors of The Law.
He was in the business of finding people. When it’s time to begin His Ministry, He finds John, and then John sees the vision. From there, two Disciples follow Him, Andrew and I believe John, followed Him. He looks at them and asks them a question, then instructs to to come and see.
When it’s time to initiate the journey of His public Ministry, He finds them at the Sea of Galilee, and calls Andrew, Simon Peter, James, and John. That brings us back full circle to our text. Jesus decides to go to Galilee, finds Philip, says go with me. Bethsaida, the city Philip is from is mentioned, and that it’s also the city of Andrew and Peter.
As I said, Jesus knows Philip. It starts always with a relationship, but also, The Lord Jesus created us. He gives us all a calling.
Jesus found Philip, to bring him into The Kingdom, and to connect Him to His purpose, He does the same thing to us today. In these two verses, we catch a glimpse of Philip’s purpose. I doubt Philip picked up on it immediately, but I expect Jesus smiled when it happened.
We don’t get Philip’s answer to Jesus. Jesus invites him, and Philip according to the text, leaves. Jesus isn’t alarmed, because He knows where Philip is going. Philip finds Nathanael, and convinces Him to meet Jesus, Jesus does the rest.
We know from Philip’s discussion with Nathanael that Philip knows the Scriptures. He mentions, we’ve found Him who Moses and the Prophets talked about. Isn’t it funny, we say when we get in Church, we’ve found Jesus? The truth is, He found us.
The group follows Jesus to the Marriage of Cana at Galilee. It was important for Philip to see the first miracle. Over the next 3 and a half years, Philip will see a lot of miracles. It was important to Jesus to take Philip on the journey of being a people finder.
Again and again The Lord Jesus would make it plain, He finds people. Jesus does nothing by chance, or coincidence. In those times when it appears someone found Jesus, they didn’t find Him, He positioned Himself to be found. Make no mistake, He is the Writer Of The Symphony, and The Conductor of The Orchestra.
The Bible says in Luke 7, Jesus goes to Capernaum, and a Centurion’s servant is sick. The Centurion hears Jesus is there, and sends people to Him, believing, but not feeling worthy to come Himself. Jesus marvels and says something critical, “I have not found so great a faith, no not in Israel.”
What we miss about this, is Jesus was looking. In The Old Testament His voice walked to where Adam was. Noah found grace in The Eyes Of The Lord because God was looking for someone to share Grace with.
David said He found me in the womb before He found me on the pasture. Solomon said The Lord keeps watch. Jesus was sending a Message to His servants, I’m looking for Faith. He would tell them later, “When The Son Of Man Comes, Will He find Faith on the Earth?”
Jesus knew the answer to that question to, but He was wanting His Disciples to answer their own questions about Faith. It was imperative that they deal with any doubts they had, during the time Jesus was with Him.
I would encourage you and I to do the same today. If we are facing any areas of doubt, fear, or unbelief, that’s human, but it’s also something we can bring to Jesus. If you know me, you know I have a lot of faith in God, but I struggle with myself.
I have issues with self confidence, anxiety, stressing when I shouldn’t, and I’m working on those. You see I’ve brought them to The One Who found me, called me, gave me the people in my life, and He is helping me with all of that.
It’s an ongoing process, as it was for the Disciples, but as long as you’re progressing, you’re making progress. Please don’t let a momentary setback, or experience to derail you from pursuing a deepening of faith in God. He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
We go from this discourse on God’s search for Faith, to a city called Nain. Again, there is no record of an invitation to this city, or a later visit. It simply says, soon after Jesus went to a city called Nain, and His disciples and a great crowd followed Him.
Jesus positioned Himself at the right time, to meet death itself near the gate of the city. Philip would see Jesus touch the coffin to stop the funeral, tell the Momma not to weep, raise the young man, and return Him to His Mother.
Can you imagine what Philip and the other Disciples thought. In The Law, if you touch a dead body, you’re unclean until the even. Jesus wasn’t just speaking to the dead person like He would Lazarus, He was touching the coffin.
I believe He was sending a message to Philip and the Disciples, to the Momma, to the boy, to the crowd, and to the enemies of The Kingdom. Jesus was here to pursue, and He would find who He was looking for, no matter where He had to pursue them too.
Jesus met death on the road of the city Nain, which means Beauty, a city at the foot of little Hermon, or one of the three mountains by that name. Why is that important, because we know from our text that Philip knew the Scriptures, and the Prophecies about Jesus.
Psalms 133:3 (ESV)
3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
Philip would have know Psalms 133:3, He would have known Prophecy was being fulfilled, Life was being given, at the foot of the mountain, God was just beginning to pursue His enemies. The ones who had tried to separate Him from a relationship with humanity.
Can you imagine the conversation between death and the grave. Can’t you picture the grave looking at death saying I thought you said this was a sure thing? I thought you promised I’d have a full house tonight. Now he’s going from a bed to be buried in, to his own bed, and his Momma’s arms. Death said, what do you want, I was having a party, and now it’s ruined.
Does this sound like a preview of a future day to anybody else? The Bible says Jesus was crucified outside the gate, meeting death itself. There was a Momma, there was a Son, and three days later, there was a Resurrection.
What The Crowd Sees
Philip saw Jesus interrupt death and the grave at Nain, but it wasn’t just the disciples who saw it. It says the crowd followed, and they saw it too. The crowd didn’t understand everything, but they understood when death was interrupted.
The crowd understands fundamental needs, life, death, food and hunger. The crowd doesn’t get the Parables, but they get some things. In our walk with God, there are some things our lost loved ones may not get, but they do understand kindness, love for them, a lack of an agenda, and supplying of their needs.
Feeding Of The 5,000
Philip understood hunger, and the food supply. We don’t know Philip’s occupation exactly, but we know he was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Andrew and Peter, as James and John, were fisherman. It’s interesting that they lived in Bethsaida, which means the house of fish, fishing house, or the house of hunting.
John 6:5-13 (ESV)
5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”
6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,
9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.
12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”
13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.
At different times, in different places in Scripture, it’s mentioned that Philip was from Bethsaida. It is at Bethsaida where Jesus fed the 5,000. Remember, Jesus chose Philip to take with Him to Galilee, to the crowd. He showed Philip how He had found the needy, like the woman of Nain in the crowd, but now, Jesus looks at Philip, and says to feed them.
He knew what He would do, but He wanted Philip to act. Matthew records it this way, “You give them something to eat.” Andrew, who it seems is a close friend to Philip, because we’ll see the work together again a little later, says there’s a boy here. Notice, this time Jesus didn’t find the boy directly, He knew He was there, but He told the Disciples to find the solution.
“I brought you with Me so you could be an extension of what I’m doing. One day you will do what I’m doing.” So they bring the boy to Jesus. Now, we’ve always said He used a little boy’s lunch, but a commentary from Joh Gill points something out. He says the boy may have brought the provisions to sell.
This is important because it explains why he would have five loaves and two fish. The fish may have been salted or prepared to use for the loaves. Also it was barley bread, which was common and food for the poorer of people as well. It might also explain why it was important that they took up twelve baskets full.
Can you imagine the boy who gave up a basket of food coming home with either sales from twelve baskets, or baskets to sell the next day? Jesus, through Andrew and Philip may have found a family in need, and fed them for who knows how long.
Don’t assume the boy was a coincidence. Nothing is coincidental with God. Yes, He was there for the multitude, but the multitude Christ was there for, included Philip, Andrew, and the boy. The point here is that Jesus shifted from directly supplying the need, to supplying through His Disciples. This point will continue in the last two examples of whom Jesus found.
The Widow’s Mite
Jesus is sitting over against the Treasury, He sees something, remember He sees what He’s expecting to see, but He points it out for the Disciples. It’s the story of the widow’s mite. The rich throw in of their abundance, she throws in all that she has.
God points it out to the Disciples, and then walks out of the Temple. It would seem, on face value, that He did not act for her, but we know better. Jesus will always make sure the state you’re in after He finds you, is better than when He found you.
As Pastor Jeff McCool pointed out recently, there are miracles that didn’t make the book. That was something John, another of Philip’s friends mention. You see Philip was a connector, he was close to Andrew, he was close to John. It’s John that tells us about Philip’s calling.
Don’t assume that your miracle isn’t happening because Jesus doesn’t appear to act immediately. He tells the Disciples, she’s given everything, and then He leaves. I don’t know how, but I do know that somehow her condition was better, because I know God.
I will appoint this out, that in the early Church, the Disciples at some point have instigated a plan to feed the widows. There is an argument that comes up between the groups of Jews over the dispersion of the food. They choose people to handle it, which there’s a different Philip in that group that is chosen, but the Disciples had to have approved the feeding.
In other words, they took Matthew 25 to heart. They took Jesus pointing out the need of that widow to heart. They took the fact the poor you’ll always have with you to heart. Somewhere along the way, they began to replicate the act of Jesus, and found people.
Philip And The Greek Jews
I know this because of the last story I’ll share about Philip. They are at the Passover, and some Greeks, knowing that Philip was from Bethsaida, find him. They say we want to see Jesus. He consults with his friend Andrew, and they go to Jesus.
John 12:23-29 (ESV)
23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up
27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
We return full circle to our story, it’s Jesus, Philip, and the crowd. Philip is a connector. Jesus speaks, Philip understands more than he did 3 1/2 years earlier, but the crowd doesn’t get everything.
They hear Philip, they hear Jesus, but they don’t hear The Spirit speaking. They hear something, but some said it was thunder, others it was an angel. The crowd will not get everything, but in every crowd, there will be a centurion. There will be a woman from Nain.
There will be a little boy who has a need. There will be someone longing to be a parent. They’ll be some people who want to see Jesus. You and I are the Philip of our neighborhood. Ask yourself, what can I communicate to my crowd about Jesus.
What do I have, that they will understand. How can I convey a desire to meet Jesus in our relationship with them? Can I show Him through me? Do I show Him through me?
Do I get angry when I should roll it off. Do I get worried when I should remind myself of the last miracle Jesus did for me? I’m as guilty as anyone, but I’m working on it. Are you working to find someone to either bring to Jesus, or to bring Jesus to them?
Have you done any finding, since you’ve been found? Have you looked at your neighbors and saw their needs like the little boy in the crowd. Do you know of a financial need of a brother or sister that you can help with?
When Jesus comes back, will He find you and I finding others? See The Bible says Jesus said to follow Me, you have to do what you see Me do. It’s not that we save people, but we do position ourselves to introduce people to Jesus.
How He Loves Us
Jesus found Philip, not just so that he would find others, but because He loved Him. Don’t make the mistake to think that God calls you just for what He empowers you to do. God made you, so He knows what you are meant to do, but that’s not the primary reason He calls you.
He calls you, because He loves you. I want to see Nicholas do some things, but if he never does, I want to spend a lifetime being his Dad. There are things we are meant to do, but above all, we are meant to love God, and to know that He loves us!
Whatever you are doing, whatever you are called to do, know that He pursued you first, because He loved you. He wanted Philip with him, not because He needed Philip, not even merely that Philip needed Jesus. Jesus wanted him with Him, because He loved him.
You are loved by God. You are called by God. Don’t get so caught up in what you are called to be that you forget Who called you. Don’t forget that, while what you’re doing is important, it’s not nearly as important to Him, who you are.
We talk about the Disciples, and the Inner Circle of Jesus, and it was evident that Peter, James, and John were in a specific calling, but we don’t see jealousy about this from the other Disciples. Oh they argue about who will be greatest and things, but there’s no record that anyone ever begrudged the place the Inner Circle held, and I believe that’s for one reason. They all were confident in the fact that Jesus loved them.
I don’t know what you’re called to do, or what area you’re in, but I know this, you are called there because God loves you. I’m not a,b, or c, and that’s perfectly okay with me. When I was younger, there were things I thought I was supposed to be, but now I realize I was never meant to do those things.
There was no argument at the microphone on the Day of Pentecost. No one tried to trip Peter on his way to the Pulpit. They were confident in where God had positioned them. He had found them in a place of pain, and taken them to a place of peace. Philip knew this.
Reaching The Kingdom takes all of us. None of us are exactly the same, we’re not designed to be. Just as Philip paired with Andrew, we’re a team. Some times will be the organizer, sometimes we’ll be the helper, but it doesn’t matter, as long as we get them to Jesus.
Philip couldn’t meet the need of the woman at Nain, or the 5,000, but he could pay a little boy for his purchase. He could give something to the widow to help her through the week. He could point the Greeks to Jesus, and so can you and I. We’re in the business of People Finders, we find people, and introduce them to Jesus.