Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Philip and James, Apostles

About half of the twelve apostles are little-known. We always think of the twelve apostles as The Twelve Apostles, but really just a few stand out as well-known figures. Peter of course. Then there’s John, and to a lesser extent, his brother James. There’s Matthew and the infamous Judas Iscariot. There’s also the brother of Peter, Andrew, and the perhaps infamous Thomas. The rest we just don’t know much about, such as Philip, Bartholomew, James, Thadaeus, and Simon.

As Andrew was with Peter, James is always in the shadow of his brother John. But even he gets more notice than the other James, whom we know only as “the son of Alphaeus” [Matthew 10:3].

John, however, gives us a few snippets of Philip. Like the other apostles, he at times got it right and at times probably made Jesus wonder if he had been listening to Him at all. Philip was called by Jesus in Galilee [John 1:43] and he promptly told Nathanael. “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” When Nathanael balked, Philip’s response was simple: “Come and see for yourself.” And he did. [John 1:43-46] Just as he did on another occasion when certain people wanted to see Jesus, Philip went to Jesus with the message [John 12:21-23].

But we all have our other moments too, don’t we? Same with those silly apostles. On one occasion, Jesus meant to feed a crowd so large it would probably have been a logistical nightmare for a catering company. Plus, they didn’t even have the money to get the food if they had called a catering company. Philip was the one who voiced the concern when Jesus asked him about feeding them, but He was only testing Philip, knowing He would be the one feeding them. [John 6:5-7]

And how was it that the one who had said to Nathanael, “Come and see” and to the ones seeking Jesus, he went directly to Him, that now Jesus was saying to Philip, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?” [John 14:8-11] Because we all have our moments, don’t we? James is known to us only as the son of Alphaeus and an apostle of the Lord. Philip is known to us as an apostle of Jesus and one who had his ups and downs. With how the Scriptures present them to us we see that they weren’t all that different from us. To which we, like they, ascribe all the glory to God for His mercy upon us that He would save us and then use us to invite others to come and see Jesus.

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