Here we see a very interesting transaction, for both Andrew and John had spent the evening with Jesus and were thus convinced. Philip, however, was not present during this time. Thus, when Jesus calls to Philip to “follow Me,” for Philip to straight do so with no question displays his zeal, his full true faith. See, Philip was a disciple of John the Baptist, who in this image is the Church. He had on his own studied the Scriptures, while looking to a teacher to help him interpret them, rather than looking to his own understanding. So strong was his zeal for the Messiah that he didn’t question when John said, “this is He.” He needed no convincing, no apologetics, no signs and miracles, no crafty arguments or empirical evidence. He had his Church, his “priest,” in whom he had placed his trust, and thus he believed without question or argument, in full obedience, when John stated who He was. Oh how we could learn from this. In our generation, we hate obedience. We hate having to place our trust in another person. So much so that we refuse to accept the teachings of the Church itself. We actually trust ourselves in our limited wisdom over 2000 years of Church history with it’s teachings and traditions. We constantly seek new and exciting ways to interpret Scripture instead of “holding to the traditions which have been handed down, whether by word or by epistle.” Rather than seeking the God of Scripture, we seek the god in the mirror, and, I promise, when we seek the god in the mirror, we will find him every time. The enemy has no reason to plant the seeds of doubt in our mind when we seek to create our own god, he need only fear when we seek the true God. Thus, when it is Jesus that we are seeking, he will fill our minds with doubt. He will convince us that we are following fools. He will quickly point out the first reason that we have to doubt, and then convince us that unless we see these miraculous things on demand, then we are going the wrong way. Consider the tricks he tried on Jesus in the desert. Jesus was hungry, Satan told Him, “command these stones to become bread,” then the devil told Him, “throw Yourself down, if God is real He won’t let You be hurt” and Jesus replied, “You shall not test the Lord your God,” and lastly, Satan told Him, “follow me and everyone will love You, You will rule everything,” and Jesus rebuked Him.
The last of those temptations really resonates with our generation. If you want everyone to love you, if you want everyone to accept you and be your friend, if you want to succeed by the world’s definition of success, just follow him. Just give into your every inner yearning and the world will accept you, because you will be just like them. Even moreso, the enemy will allow your attempts to go unfettered, because it means that you are following him. But, if you want to find true freedom, true success, then rebuke him and follow Jesus. In Proverbs, we learn that “to every careful thinker there is gain.” (Proverbs 14:24 LXX), and Jesus Himself strengthens this statement when He teaches us that “He who seeks, finds.” See, no amount of coercion, no amount of debate, will ever convince anyone to seek after salvation. No amount of arguing or debating will ever convince a non-believer to believe. So often, we think that we can open the eyes of the blind with witty statements and debates, pointing out the miracles as evidence of the existence of God. On the other hand, as we see here, to the one who is truly seeking, truly hungering after God; no amount of debating, no show of miracles or signs, is necessary. To the man who is truly hungering after the Lord, merely being in His presence is sufficient; to the man who is not hungering, no amount of signs or miracles even would suffice. Consider a man who awakens every morning to the sun shining down on the earth, providing necessary light and nourishment, whose every cell functions perfectly in unison to cause him to breathe, finding the necessary nourishment in that same oxygen, who has food enough to sustain life in some incomprehensible way. What miracles beyond those could we ever offer as evidence to the existence of God? What further evidence could you offer that man who has each of those things and yet still does not believe? No, as with Philip here, if this man is truly hungering after God, being brought into His presence would be all that were necessary. But, if he’s not, then no amount of human wisdom would ever bring Him to the cross.
And, it’s interesting to note, Philip not only believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but immediately went back and began preaching. So strong and zealous was his faith that merely being in the presence of God not only made him believe, but he immediately began to tell others. The Scripture says that he went and found Nathanael and proclaimed boldly, “We have found the Messiah.” This claim can only be made by one who was already diligently seeking Him, otherwise, how do you find that which you are not already seeking? No, rather, the disciples of John, the members of the Church, were already seeking diligently the Scriptures, seeking to learn about the coming One, so that they would be prepared to find Him. And John helped them, by his teaching, and ultimately, his revelation of Jesus as the Messiah. And, further, Philip declares, “we have found Him of whom Moses in the law and the Prophets wrote.” See how much he had meditated on the Scriptures that, when he beheld them, he studied in anticipation of the advent of the Messiah.
This is something that we must be mindful to heed. So often, we tend to get so caught up in the historicity of the Scripture that we miss the very spirit of what is being said in it. Rather than seeing Jesus in all of Scripture, we get lost in the historical accuracy of it. In no way would I ever say that the Scriptures are historically inaccurate; however, when we focus on that aspect of them rather than the revelation of Jesus in all of the Scriptures, then we completely miss the point. Every verse of Scripture is a hymn to Christ. If we are unable to see Jesus in every part of the Holy Scripture, then the historical accuracy is irrelevant. Likewise, if you are able to see Jesus in every part of Scripture, then does the historical accuracy matter? I think of thousands of years of martyrs. Consider the apostles themselves. Was Stephen martyred because he argued that the world was created in seven 24 hour days? Was Peter crucified upside down because he believed in a global worldwide flood? When we read the story of Jonah, which we are all familiar with, do we see Jonah as a type of Christ, buried in the pit for three days and then returning to the world to bring salvation to everyone? If not, does it matter if he was literally swallowed whole by a whale? But, if we see Jonah as being a type of Christ, and recognize that he was sent to bring salvation to a people who were not already “God’s people,” then does the historicity matter?
See, we should always view the Scriptures from the perspective of what they teach us about the Lord, and then, through them, what He is teaching us. Philip had studied the Scriptures and, because he had studied them beginning with the Messiah, he anticipated His advent and then needed only to be in His presence to believe. All too often, we do it backwards. We begin with our preconceived notions and theological doctrines, study the Scripture based on what we already believe, and then bend the words of Scripture to fit what we had already determined we would find there. We use the words of Scripture to build our own opinions, to strengthen our own interpretation. To attach the name of Jesus to the god of the mirror. We place more faith in our own interpretation than in the teachings of the Church, and create a god in our own image. We must be careful, my beloved brethern, that we do not fall into this trapping of Satan. Let us instead read the Scripture in the light of what it teaches us about Him, His will, His Law; looking to the Church to help us to understand it. And then let us present this faith to the world, this faith which doesn’t require theological gymnastics or an M-Div to understand; heeding the words of St Paul that “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.” (1 Corinthians 1:27). Let us read the Scripture in light of Christ and let us read the words of Scripture and do them, as Jesus teaches, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:28). And that should be our goal. To hear the words of Scripture, to look to the traditions of the Church to help us understand them, and to abide in them. In the Book of Acts, we read about the later days of Philip, who meets a Eunuch. And the Eunuch is reading from the Prophet Isaiah. Philip asks him, “do you understand what you are reading?” to which the Eunuch replies, “how can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:27-39).
May our lives exude this simple faith that comes into the presence of Christ, hears His words, and obeys them.
May the peace of the Lord be with you, my beloved family.