The next day Jesus decided to set out for Galilee. Finding Philip, He told him, “Follow Me.” (John 1:43)
The cool thing about this passage is that Jesus found Philip. He didn’t just come across him. He actively looked for him until he located him.
Isn’t it amazing that we serve a Savior who searches for us? It’s like we’re living out the story of the shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep on the hill and went after the one who was lost. (Matt 18:12-14) I can look back and see how Jesus sought me; how he set up situations so I would encounter him. One of my favorite verses has been, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:8a)
Does he still look for me? Does he come to me in my whirlwind of “to-dos” and struggles and side roads, and say to me, “You’re getting off track. Come on. Remember. Follow me.”
I need to stop, and look into his eyes and hear his earnest call again, “I believe in you. I have a purpose for you. This is the way.”
Yes! This is the way. This is it! That must be what Philip thought when Jesus called him. Philip went right away and told his brother, Nathanael, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, the One the prophets foretold.” (John 1:45)
Philip had the heart to recognize the call, and how momentous it was. Can we say the same?
This past week the 50 members of our little church gave $14,000 in a special contribution that will enable our ministry to continue. We were tremendously encouraged. It is astounding that we were able to give that much. It says something about the hearts of the members. They believe in what we’re doing. It resonates deeply with them. What they gave was, in a sense, a response to the call of Jesus they heard.
“Follow me.” When we get it, and do it, it feels glorious!
But many times, we don’t recognize the call. Many times, we follow imperfectly.
You know, I think the reason Philip responded to the call was because he could see what Jesus was, instead of what Jesus wasn’t. We know what Nathanael saw at first. He asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” All Nathanael could think about was how Nazareth was so sketchy.
And we can be the same way. We’re supposed to look at who Jesus is, but instead we look at all the things that are sketchy — “My marriage is struggling. I lost my job. I don’t have the money to pay my bills. This didn’t turn out like I expected. That person upset me.”
And we feel muddled. Sigh. As I think about it, I know the good news is that Jesus still comes to find us.
I can see the evidence of Jesus’s search for me like a breadcrumb trail through this past week. My friend, Kenonia, and I got together and prayed, and within a minute, the prayer was answered. Our friends, the Johnsons, sent an email detailing their plans to come and encourage our church in a couple of weeks. A young woman I studied the Bible with years ago texted me that she’s now studying the Bible again. My daughter and her husband successfully navigated together the complicated decision of whether to buy a house. One friend who has had some challenges told me they are now doing better. Another friend was on the brink of failing nursing school, and told me she passed. And, of course, our church raised $14,000! So many prayers were answered!
It’s not that Jesus at one time went after us to save us, or that he occasionally shows up in our lives. It’s that Jesus is ALWAYS looking for us and leaving evidence of who he is, and how much he cares.
Then, when he finally gets our attention, he says, “Follow me.”
Will we hear? Will we respond?
When we remember who he is, and how momentous is the call, we will.