Matthew 10:1-4 – These Guys Changed The World? Part 6 (Philip)

Posted: November 23, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 10:1-4
These Guys Changed The World? Part 6 (Philip)

We all have that practical friend. The one that bottom lines everything. The one that can figure out what things are going to cost. The cool calculating one we would call them. The one that can cut through emotion and see what has to be done. This type of person is usually someone that others can count on to get things done. These are the people may not be great leaders in their own right but they are the ones that leaders must have. They are the doers and foot soldiers that leaders count on to execute the vision that the leader has. That pragmatism, that cut through to the details, that is what leads us to the Apostle Philip today.

The interesting thing about Philip, one of the Twelve, is that he was personally reached by Jesus himself. While Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, no one brought Philip to Jesus. Instead, Jesus came right to him. John’s Gospel tells us, “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow Me’ ” (John 1:43). Normally God reaches people through people, but this was an exception to the rule. We don’t know a lot about Philip. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke give us no details about him. All the vignettes of Philip appear in the Gospel of John. But from that Gospel, we discover that he was a completely different kind of person than Peter, Andrew, James, or John. He is often paired with Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew), whom he brought to Jesus. It also would appear from John’s account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand that Philip may have been in charge of the supplies and food, the road manager of sorts. He was the kind of guy who was practical, always thinking about the bottom line. And on this occasion, Jesus, trying to stretch Philip’s faith, posed a question to him as the crowd gathered: “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip responded, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little” (verse 7). Philip didn’t do so well on that test. He wasn’t the first to have the most faith, but he was a follower of Jesus who was used by God.

And according to church history, Philip laid his life down for Christ, being stoned to death after reaching many with the gospel. There is no confirmation of how he died. One legend has it that he was stoned to death while another has it that he was crucified. Regardless, Philip died in service to His Master, that much is commonly accepted. It would mean that he became a leader in his own right under the tutelage of Jesus and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

So again, as we have in the past five parts of this series, we ask the question. What can we learn from the life of Philip, certainly one of the lesser known Apostles, but an apostle nonetheless. First, I think we learn that Jesus has use for the practical, pragmatic types in his kingdom. Second, you don’t have to be a well-spoken, charismatic person to convince others to come to Christ. Finally, we learn that through Christ, regardless of our personality type, we can become leaders and influencers for Christ. In Phillip, we see how Jesus can stretch us beyond what we could ever imagine we could do on our own.

I think the first thing that we learn from Phillip is that God has designed each one of with specific talents that Jesus can use in his church. Phillip was the supply master of sorts for the group for why else would Jesus have specifically asked Phillip as to how they were going to feed the 5,000. Philip had that role within the group. He was the one that made sure everything got done. He was the roadie for the band. He probably was the advance man for this evangelistic crusade. Because of Jesus’ direct question to him on this point, I imagine Jesus often sent Phillip ahead to the next town to make sure that the team had all the supplies they needed for Jesus’ visit to that town. This thought is supported by the fact that several Greeks approached Philip about seeking an appointment with Jesus. This shows that Jesus and the rest of the disciples were not around and that Philip was ahead of them. He was the go-to guy, I bet, when Jesus needed something done and done right. Every church needs a group of Philips. Those people who fervently love the Lord and want to do something about it. They want to do the detailed work of the kingdom. These are the people that leaders in the church count on to execute the vision. They are like the offensive line of a great offense on a football team. They toil often in anonymity. They take great pride in their work keeping the defensive line off their quarterback and running backs. They take pride in giving the quarterback enough time to get passes downfield to their receivers. But without their work, there is no great offense. It does not matter if your quarterback, running backs, and receivers are highly touted and have amazing speed and great skill, it all falls apart if there is no talent on the offensive line. If running backs are being hit in the backfield, if quarterbacks are being sacked before they can ever get a pass off, it doesn’t matter how much skill the skill players have. It is the same way in the church, there are those who have great vision and these are typically the elders of your church. However, if they do not have people that they can count on to actually execute the vision, it all falls apart rather quickly. The church needs the doers as well as the leaders. Philip was a doer. His pragmatic approach sometimes caused him not to see the big picture though and it was up to Jesus to show him what’s beyond the details. Jesus’ instruction in feeding the 5,000 was an attempt to get Philip to see that it was going to take a miracle to feed these people. It was a teaching moment. But, the point is, Jesus chose Philip to be part of the disciples because he saw a needed talent for the church, the practical get-things-done guy that He could later develop into something greater.

The second thing that I think is noticeable about Philip is that he was an evangelist without even realizing it at first. He shows us we all have the ability to bring people to the cross just by being ourselves. Philip knew Nathaniel (a/k/a Bartholomew) the skeptic to Jesus. Through the action of the Holy Spirit and the prodding of Philip, Nathaniel meets Jesus and accepts Him as his Savior. Nathaniel becomes a disciple and a follower of Jesus. We sometimes think that only our preacher can lead people to Christ. But when you think about it, probably about only 5-10% of the people sitting in your church have been led to Christ directly by your preacher. It is you and I the day-to-day Christians that lead the most people to Christ. Sure, we need full-time pastors who challenge us, grow us, disciple us and send us out. That is what they are to do is to fuel us up and send us out in the harvest. It is just the normal average every day Joe Christian that is out there showing people the way to the cross. As we have stated, Philip was a practical sort. We have said that he was the details kind of guy. He probably didn’t see himself as an evangelist when he brought Nathaniel to Jesus. He was just bring a friend, a skeptical one at that, to meet with Jesus and have a discussion with him. It was to Philip a non-threatening thing. It was just Philip bringing a friend to Jesus to talk. That’s inspiration to us. We always make sharing the gospel this gigantic and difficult thing. Philip shows us that if we just use our relationships, our spheres of influence, as our starting point of sharing the gospel it is amazing the impact we can have. Just think of it. If you influence one of our friends to come meet Jesus, that person creates another circle of influence in which people are drawn to Jesus. There was an old L’Oreal hair color commercial where the premise what two friends would tell two friends about the product and the two friends telling two friends became astronomical in number. Philip wasn’t aware of all that. He was just telling a good friend about Jesus. It was non-threatening. We start with the people we know and we go from there. The multiplication of friends telling friends about the eternal glory found in Jesus Christ. That’s astronomical. Philip shows us that sharing the gospel should not be scary. Start with the people you know that need to know Jesus. Talk to them. Walk with them. Live life with them. See your opportunities and use them to speak of the change that Jesus Christ has brought in your life. Philip did just that. So can we!

Finally, in feeding the 5,000, Jesus knew what He was going to do. He knew that He was going to perform a miracle that only God through His Son here on earth could do. However, He purposely asked Philip the question about feeding them to get Philip to see beyond the details and the pragmatism and see the greater miracle of God. He wanted Philip to see clearly that it was humanly impossible to feed these people with the money they had or the supplies that they had with them or was available to them anywhere within walking distance. He wanted Philip to grasp the miracle. He wanted Philip to see beyond depending on ourselves and what we can do. Sure, Jesus brought Philip on board because he was a go-to guy but He also saw a guy that could be grown into an evangelist and leader of men. Jesus wanted Philip to see the miracle and see that sometimes we simply have to depend on God for what we need and not on our own skills. In our annual Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway at church, we always set high goals for the number for turkeys and meal fixings that we will giveaway in the community, and God always has a way of when we think things are the bleakest that we must depend on Him to make it happen. Each and every year, Elena and I worry about the numbers game of the giveaway and each and every year God shows us that it is He who makes it happen and not us. He always shows out through the generosity that He influences. He always knocks the numbers out of the park in ways that make us know that it was He that did it and not us. That is what Jesus was doing with Philip. Jesus was growing Philip into a man, though with practical get-it-done skills, that wholly depends on God. Philip goes on after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to become a leader and an evangelist. He became a man that grew beyond pragmatism into a visionary leader. He became so sold out for Christ that he gave his life for Christ. Through Christ, we can become things that we could never thought we’d be. He can stretch us outside our comfort zone into that place where we must depend wholly on Him working through us to perform miracles in our lives and in the lives of others. When we surrender our comfort zone and let Jesus push us to where He wants and we see that it is only through Him that we can do it, that is when we are most useful to Him. See the miracle that Jesus can do in you. Step beyond your comfort zone into the zone of miracles in Jesus. He can take you and make you into something you don’t believe there is any way for you to do. He can take you to that place and will make sure you can. He is with you. He will provide you the time, the talents, and the resources you need to reach far beyond what you can see right now. Jesus did it for Philip. He became something greater than He was because of Jesus alone, not because of any of His efforts. He can do the same for you.

Step out! Become what Jesus intended for you to be which is so far beyond what you can imagine right now! Amen and Amen.

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