A New Team – John, Philip, and Bartholomew
Scripture reading this week: Luke 6:12-19
Yesterday we looked at how Jesus picked twelve men who were everyday folks like you and I to take on the most important mission in the history of mankind: Sharing the good news of the gospel.
In this one verse we see that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things…
And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James …(Luke 6:12-14)
And instead of working through a “priesthood” of specially trained men, Jesus set in motion a new thing, the church, made up of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Today we’ll look at the next three men on the list; John, Philip, and Bartholomew.
While mending their fishing nets, the sons of Zebedee, James and John, were called by Jesus to be “fishers of men.” These two brothers and Peter formed the innermost circle of Jesus’ closest companions. John was known as the Beloved Disciple.
John was a prolific writer; he wrote the Gospel of John, I John, II John, III John, and the book of Revelation. John was very ambitious; Mark 10:37 records how he and his brother lobbied Jesus for the #2 and #3 spot in the kingdom! John was also known for his explosive temper, his second name was Boanerges, which means “son of Thunder.”
The fact that Jesus chose John tells us that God can work through ambitious, sometimes explosive people.
In the Gospel of John, Philip is portrayed as one who had a deep understanding of the Old Testament prophecy, and of the coming Messiah. Philip was a man with a warm heart, but a pessimistic head; He wanted to help others, but he didn’t see how it could be done. This was revealed in his exchange with Jesus concerning feeding the five thousand: “Two hundred denarii (200 days wages) worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” (John 6:5-7).
The Gospel of John records Philip as one of the first to whom Jesus addressed the words, “Follow Me.” When Philip met Christ, he immediately found Nathanael and told him that “we have found him, of whom Moses … and the prophets, did write.” Nathanael was skeptical. But Philip didn’t argue with him; he simply answered, “Come and see.”
The fact that Jesus chose Philip tells us that God can use people with little faith, but willing hearts.
Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael), son of Talmai, came from Cana of Galilee. A number of scholars believe that he came from noble birth; His name means Son of Tolmai or Talmai(2 Samuel 3:3). Talmai was king of Geshur whose daughter, Maacah, was the wife of David, mother of Absolom.
Bartholomew was one who was able to see the bigger picture, as he immediately recognized Jesus Christ as the Messiah at their first encounter:
Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe ? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. (John 1:48-51)
Tradition tells us that Bartholomew was a student of scripture, as well as a scholar in the law and the prophets. He is said to have preached with Philip in Phrygia and Hierapolis, Armenia, eventually traveling to India to preach the gospel.
The fact that Jesus chose Bartholomew tells us that God can use those of noble birth and high education to share the gospel.
The point: Regardless of whether you’re an ambitious, of little faith, or noble birth, God can and will work through you to make a difference in the world around you!
We can change the world, one life at a time…