JESUS: A SOULWINNER
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 1:43a AThe day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee.@
Jesus has fulfilled His purposes in coming to John the Baptist. Christ has been baptized by John, received public support from John, and gathered His first followers from John.
Jesus is ready to begin His public ministry and starts, like Andrew, at home. However difficult it be, our work for God must begin at home. Jesus went to family and friends first (see Luke 4:14ff), knowing they would reject Him. Our vision should include, in this order, family and friends.
John 1:43b AAnd findeth Philip.@
Jesus was a personal soulwinner, not limiting His ministry to public speaking. Everywhere He went He touched the lives of individuals.
No public ministry should ever be allowed to replace private personal soulwinning. Moody preached to millions, but after his deeper experience with the Lord, he personally witnessed to someone once a day for the remainder of his ministry. People on the streets of Chicago called him AMadman Moody.@
We need to become serious in our prayers concerning this business of soulwinning. Let=s pray specifically God will send us out into His harvest. We know this would please Him, for Jesus Himself did it.
John 1:43c A . . . and saith unto him . . .@
Jesus spoke to a man who was neither seeking Him nor brought to Him by anyone. This was a totally new approach of bringing people to Jesus. Andrew and John had been directed by the Baptist. Peter was brought by Andrew. But now Jesus uses a new approach. God is not confined to any single method of bringing people to His Son.
The woman at the well was awed by His Omniscience. The man born blind was amazed at the miracle of healing. The woman taken in adultery was spared through His tender forgiveness. Paul was struck down on the Damascus Road.
Jesus knows each person=s heart and deals with each uniquely and individually. If a person is too forward, Christ will warn him of the cost. AA certain man said unto Him, Lord, I will follow thee withersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head@ (Luke 9:57-58).
If one is timid, Christ summons and encourages, as with Zaccheus. God is infinite in variety. I was saved on my parents= bed. My sister was saved through a dream. Grandma Hill could not remember date or details of her conversion.
There is only one Door, but many paths lead to Him. Don=t be discouraged if your experience was not spectacular. Don=t be overly proud if it was. Rejoice that your name is written in the Lamb=s Book of Life.
John 1:43d AFollow me.@
This simple invitation-command implies five things:
1. Confrontation. Philip is forced to decide. There did not have to be an extensive preparation period before he could come to know Jesus. In a moment=s time, his eternal destiny would be determined. There was no pressure, for all of Christ=s army are volunteers, but the decision had to be made.
2. Faith. Can Philip trust a previously unknown person? Every lost person faces this same question.
3. Obedience. To follow means you will tread His path wherever it leads. Before you know where it goes, you decide to follow it. Israel (Exodus 19) accepted the covenant before they heard its terms (Exodus 20).
4. Imitation. Our Model shall be Christ alone.
5. Communion. We must stay in constant touch with Him to know where He is leading.
John 1:44 ANow Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.@
Some of Christ=s disciples were of outstanding ability, but Philip is always presented as ordinary. Though Philip was never a candidate for Aoutstanding Jew of the year,@ Jesus made him an Apostle anyway. Philip was hindered by several obvious encumbrances:
1. His name. Though a Jew, his name is pure Greek, meaning lover of horses. This shows he did not come from a strongly devoted Jewish family. To the Orthodox, Philip=s name alone would make him an outsider.
2. His city. Bethsaida, which means house of fishing, was a faithless city. They rejected Christ, though they witnessed some of His greatest miracles.
Near Bethsaida Jesus fed 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish, walked on water, and healed a blind man by putting spit on his eyes. Jesus pronounced its doom. AWoe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you@ (Matthew 11:21-22).
3. His flaws. Philip often seemed out of his depth. He doubted 5000 could be fed (John 6:7). He did not know what to do with the Greeks, who probably came to him because of his Greek name. He finally had to consult with Andrew (John 12:21f). He asked Jesus to show the disciples the Father (John 14:8f). This desire for further revelation pointed to weak faith.
In spite of everything, Jesus loved and used Philip. Jesus was not seeking extraordinary credentials, just extraordinary submission. Christ doesn=t need beautiful vessels, just Aflowable@ vessels through whom He can touch the world.
The question is not one of worthiness, but one of willingness. One prayer of the great Welsh revival was:
AFill me, Holy Spirit, fill me, more than fulness I would know;
I am smallest of Thy vessels, yet, I much can overflow.@
ALord, take our ordinary vessels and extraordinarily bless the world through them.@