#4 (The 12 Disciples Series)
"PHILIP -- THE PRACTICAL!"
TEXTS: JOHN 1:43-46; 6:5-7; 12:20-23; 14:6-14
INTRO: Philip would have made a great American!! He loved being practical things, WE love practical things. It is the practical people that drive our market system – and Philip was the practical one in the twelve disciples. Practical people are the ones that figure out how to get things done, we even have a saying about this, "necessity is the mother of invention."
There are people who by their nature are always practical! There was a Martha among the women who followed Jesus; she was the practical one in the group of women that followed Jesus. There was Philip among the disciples; he was the practical guy among the men!
Practicality rules the planet, take for instance the following:
b. Exchanging "money" became more practical than bartering large objects back and forth, hence the development of the paper currency system.
c. Indoor plumbing and bathrooms were created to serve the practical need of not having to travel outdoors to deal with our basic needs!
d. The list could go on and on; cars, telephones, refrigerators, etc. all exist to serve “practical” needs.
PROP. SENT: The "practical" saint is often hardworking, faithful, and gets things done – but often they struggle with faith! God however has a great love for those who are "practical" – they are valued followers of Christ!
A. Evidence First 1:43-46
1. Philip was a practical man, his
name means "lover of horses" and he was from
a. These men were practical by nature; fishing was an occupation that by nature made you practical!
b. When Philip responded to the call to be one of Jesus' followers he came as he was, a very practical man!
2. Notice that Philip refers to Jesus
as "Jesus of
a. Philip tended to see the natural before the supernatural, this becomes even more evident as we look at other passages!
b. This was good when getting routine business done but a drawback when faith was required to do something!
3. "Faith" is not something that just forces itself into our lives when we get saved, we must learn to "exercise" it and learn to practice it!
ILLUS: YES FAITH IS A GIFT FROM GOD, AND SO IS AIR, FOOD, WATER, ETC. BUT EACH OF THESE THINGS YOU MUST TAKE IN! FAITH IS AVAILABLE, BUT MUST BE RECIEVED TO BE ACTIVATED. FAITH IS NOT JUST SOMETHING WE FEEL, IT IS ACTING UPON GOD'S WORD, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. When Philip goes and gets his
friend Nathanael to also follow Jesus, Nathanael responds by saying "can anything
good come from
a. This was the creed by which Philip lived: SEEING IS BELIEVING!
b. For Philip the answer came in the form of SEEING!
c. He was a man who needed proof!
B. Empirical Foundation 14:6-14
1. Here we find Philip near the end of 3 years with Jesus, still the practical man in need of learning to live by faith!
a. Jesus just finished telling his disciples that "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
b. Philip's response to this statement by Jesus reveals the practical man he still is, and the man who was still much in need of learning what "faith" is!
c. Philip's response ironically was: "Lord, show us the father and that will be enough for us."
(1. Notice how Philip assumes that he speaks for all!
(2. Notice too how Philip relies upon the "real" ... "Show us..."
2. Philip's life had depended on the visual, what he could see, touch, taste, hear, and smell – he is having a hard time getting a handle on faith like many of us!
a. This is so much like people today: "if only I saw a miracle I would believe too!"
b. The trouble with Philip is that he keeps looking at the wrong thing all the time, this can be a painful process, his focus should have been on the spiritual world which at times is not seen through "practical eyes."
ILLUS: LIKE A CARPENTER, HE QUICKLY LEARNS HOW TO DRIVE NAILS. THE SECRET TO DOING THIS IS TO NOT LOOK AT YOUR FINGERS HOLDING THE NAIL BUT TO LOOK AT THE NAIL! WHY? YOU WILL USUALLY HIT WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT! IF YOU WATCH YOUR FINGERS YOU WILL LIKELY STRIKE THEM, WATCH THE NAIL HEAD AND YOU WILL HIT IT! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
3. Those that look only at the physical realm will miss out on a lot of great spiritual realities!
a. This was Philip's problem, his focus was always on the physical realm and this held him back from great spiritual insights!
b. Jesus thus explains to him that by seeing Jesus he had already seen the FATHER – they are the same in essence!
c. Notice the sense of Jesus' frustration at Philip's lack of insight, "Don't you know me Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?" 14:9
d. Jesus then adds for “Philip the practical” these words, "... or at least believe on the EVIDENCE of the miracles themselves!" 14:11b
e. Jesus tries appealing to Philip’s nature at this point, "look at the empirical evidences."
4. Yet, Jesus does not reject Philip, He loves this practical man, and once Philip gets baptized with the Holy Spirit his spiritual senses will kick in better!
5. Possibly another insight into Philip's practical side may be found in MATT. .
a. Here a disciple that is unnamed asks Jesus first "let me bury my father" and then he would come follow Jesus.
b. Tradition attributes this statement to Philip – a very practical request!
II. SYSTEMATIC AND BULLHEADED! Jn. 6:5-7; 12:20-23
A. Exiguous Faith! Jn. 6:5-7
1. Philip's faith was small. (the meaning of "Exiguous" – lit. "Small, scant, little")
a. Jesus is about to do a great miracle, to meet the needs of thousands of hungry people!
b. First however Philip was targeted for a faith test, who better to test than the most practical man in his group – thus Philip!
c. Jesus therefore asks, "Philip, where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?"
2. Philip, true to his nature thinks on the practical level first, "Lord 8 months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" 6:7
a. Philip has the bottom line already spelled out – “it would take huge sums of money and we haven't got any, therefore it is impossible!”
b. Philip was thinking practically and in real terms!
c. What Philip was forgetting however was who Jesus is!
3. Philip forgot or ignored the power of God through Jesus, that anything was possible to them that believe!
a. Philip had a hard time seeing beyond what his natural eyes saw!
b. If only he could see not only what his natural eyes saw but what his spiritual eyes could see!
c. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen!" Heb. 11:1
ILLUS: LIKE ONE LITTLE GIRL TALKING TO ANOTHER LITTLE GIRL. THE ONE GIRL SAID THAT SHE HAD 10 PENNIES. THE OTHER LITTLE GIRL ASKED TO SEE THEM! THE FIRST GIRL THEN HELD OUT HER HAND WITH 5 SHINY NEW PENNIES IN IT! THE SECOND GIRL THEN SCOLDED HER, “YOU SAID YOU HAD 10 PENNIES, YOU ARE A LIAR, I ONLY SEE 5 PENNIES IN YOUR HAND, YOU ONLY HAVE 5 PENNIES!" THE GIRL WITH THE PENNIES RETORTED, "I DO TOO HAVE 10 PENNIES, I HAVE 5 IN MY HAND AND MY FATHER SAID HE WOULD GIVE ME 5 MORE TONIGHT, SO I HAVE 10 PENNIES!" SHE UNDERSTOOD THAT HER FATHER'S WORD WAS AS GOOD AS DONE. THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF FAITH AND SEEING BY SPIRITUAL EYES! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. Jesus however does not kick Philip out of the discipleship group, Jesus even makes sure that Philip gets one of the 12 leftover baskets, real physical evidence of Jesus' spiritual power and authority!
a. For Philip's baby faith Jesus does reach him at the level he is presently at!
b. Later, Jesus will expect more mature faith with less physical evidence!
c. Jesus meets us where we are at – and moves us on!
5. This tiny faith would grow, for now Jesus challenges Philip directly but continues to love him and nurture him!
a. The days would come when Philip however will see with spiritual eyes!
b. Indeed he did after Pentecost, he is later martyred for his faith in Christ and he stands his ground, rooted in faith trusting God that the spiritual realm is real and greater than the physical realm!
B. Encouraged by Friend! 12:20-23
1. Perhaps one of the secrets to Philip's growth comes from the fact that he is paired with another home town boy that had a greater ability to see faith!
a. Andrew and Philip appear together in several places, it was Andrew that helped Philip out in the feeding of the 5,000.
b. It will be Andrew here that helps steer Philip in the right direction.
c. It took a friend like Andrew who was just as practical but also understood how to see the spiritual realm a little better to guide him to greater faith!
2. Philip is a Greek name, Philip had strong Greek connections, so it is quite understandable that these Greeks who were curious about Jesus came to him first! 12:20-21
a. Interestingly, like Philip these Greeks seem preoccupied with “SEEING” with natural sight for they asked, "we would like to see Jesus." (The idea being to interview Jesus or interrogate him for answers)
b. Philip seems unsure of how to handle the situation, why didn't he just tell them himself about Jesus?
c. He goes first to Andrew who seemed to know better just what to do:
d. Philip knew Jesus came for the Jews, these are Greek gentiles, should they be allowed to interview Jesus?
3. Andrew thinking spiritually understands the nature of Christ's love, it is for all, so he takes Philip with him to Jesus.
4. It seems to have taken Philip twice as long to respond spiritually because his practical side sometimes blocked his spiritual insights, yet, Jesus is quite patient with this disciple even though at times frustrated with him!
ILLUS: PHILIP MUST HAVE TESTED JESUS' PATIENCE, BUT NEVER DESTROYED JESUS' LOVE. LIKE ONE LITTLE GIRL WHO WAS A FIRST-GRADER, SHE SOMETIMES PUT HER TEACHER TO WITS END! ONE RAINY DAY THE TEACHER WAS PUTTING ALL 32 OF HER STUDENTS GALOSHES ON FOR THEM TO GO HOME. SHE CAME TO THIS LITTLE GIRL LAST AND PUT ON THE FINAL PAIR OF GALOSHES ONLY TO HAVE THE LITTLE GIRL TELL THE TEACHER, "THESE AREN'T MY GALOSHES!" THE TEACHER WAS PUZZLED, SINCE NO OTHER PAIRS REMAINED, BUT SHE PATIENTLY REMOVED THEM FROM THE LITTLE GIRL'S FEET. SUDDENLY THE LITTLE GIRL ADDED AFTER THE TEACHER HAD TAKEN OFF THE GALOSHES, "THEY ARE MY SISTER'S GALOSHES. SHE LET ME WEAR THEM TODAY." THE TEACHER JUST QUIETLY AND LOVINGLY PUT THE SAME PAIR BACK ON THE LITTLE GIRL AND SENT THE STUDENTS ON THEIR WAY! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. Both Jesus and Andrew understood Philip and they loved him as he was and they helped him grow!
6. Practical people can sometimes be frustrating; they are the first to see problems with getting something done for Christ. They are the first to miss the “vision” thing. How do we deal with them?
a. First you appreciate their practicality; at times this is a great gift and not just a problem!
b. Second you love them! This is the way they are, down to earth, seeing the real world!
c. Third, you challenge them to grow and to see beyond just the physical senses!
d. Fourth, be patient with them – God loves them greatly and has called them just like He did you!
e. If you are the "practical" saint – get a friend who sees by faith better than you do and learn from them!
f. The best solution to being able to SEE in the spiritual realm is to be IN THE SPIRIT!
7. Jesus stayed Philip's friend and Andrew helped him a great deal also!
8. Practical people need friends to help them see beyond the physical realm, criticizing them is not the right approach, love is better!
9. Jesus called all kinds of different people to follow him and He loved and appreciated them all.
CONCLUSION: Philip had strong Greek connections; his name was a Greek name. Thus, he was deeply influenced by science and Greek philosophy and culture; the Greeks were deeply rational and practical people. He was the practical one among the disciples, the "show me" disciple! This created struggles with faith more than with some of the others, but he served faithfully and grew! The Lord never gave up on Philip, and he won't on you either if you are one of those “practical” saints!