What Can I Learn from Philip, Nathanael, and Matthew?

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My prayer in this Ordinary People series is that you better see and understand how God wants to use you. God used unknown, unlikely individuals and put them on His team! Today we will look at Philip, Nathanael (also called Bartholomew) and Matthew (also called Levi). They all had a personal encounter with Jesus. If you have ever had a personal encounter with Jesus, you want others to know Him.

Jesus Invited Philip – The Call
“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. He found Philip and told him, ‘Follow me’” (Jn. 1:43). Notice that Jesus did not say follow a set of rules or religion. Jesus said, “Follow me.” Are you following Christ or following the crowd? Do your family, friends, and co-workers know that you are a Christian? He was called by Jesus. Jesus was not recruiting everybody. It was a particular, definite call. This is so important to understanding who you are in Christ. It was a particular place and time and was towards a person who got what he did not deserve. Salvation is all of God. You did not do anything to get it and you can’t do anything to lose it. In verse 45 Philip is going to say, “We found Him.” That is true from a human perspective. But from God’s perspective, God found Philip. Jesus plainly said in John 15:16, “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you.” In John 6:44 Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him….” Salvation is personal. God created you. Jesus died and rose again for you. He wants you to discover your calling. To follow Jesus means to go where He goes, and like what He likes. You abandon your own will to follow His will. God is not looking for your ability but your availability. Everything you are looking for in life and more is found in Jesus!

Philip Invited Nathanael – The Companion
Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law (and so did the prophets): Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth’” (Jn. 1:45). We talk about what is most important to us. When you hear good news, you can’t wait to text or call a friend. Philip went and found his good friend Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about!” They believed the words of Moses were the Word of God. The word had been planted and when Jesus called it bore fruit. Nathanael was still human though and asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip told him to “come and see” (v. 46). People today can be just as skeptical. You can tell them all the historical facts about Jesus and it will make no difference until they come and see for themselves. As Nathanael came to Jesus, it was obvious Jesus knew him (v. 48). Jesus said, “I saw you under the fig tree.” There is so much meaning there. The Son of God knows everything about every one of us. God knows the real you! Through Jesus’ encounter with Nathanael, Nathanael confessed, “You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel!” Jesus told him that he would see greater things (v. 50). The best is yet to come!

Matthew Invited His Friends – The Community
Matthew writes his own testimony of how he met Jesus. Matthew 9:9-10 says, “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, ‘Follow me,’ and he got up and followed him. While he was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came to eat with Jesus and his disciples.” Matthew was one of the wealthiest men in the community and one of the most hated. He worked for Rome, the enemy, and took advantage of the people. He was viewed as a traitor. Everyone needs Jesus! The up and out and the down and out. People try to separate Jesus as Savior from Jesus as Lord. They want “fire insurance” to skip hell. Christianity is not a moment of faith but a life of faith. The word Savior is used over 25 times in the New Testament and Lord over 600 times. Jesus is Lord. His call is to abandon everything and, “Follow me.” Matthew left it all. He had money but he had no higher purpose in life. Through Jesus, he gained a greater influence. God would use Matthew to write the Gospel that would be used to bring millions to Christ through the ages. He made an earthly sacrifice for an eternal gain. Matthew’s life went from taking to giving. He went from using people to loving people. He went from being miserable to living life to the fullest. Luke 9:29 tells us, “Then Levi hosted a grand banquet for him at his house. Now there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining at the table with them.” He invited all of his fellow tax collectors! He wanted all his friends to meet Jesus.

God uses ordinary people in their daily lives. He used a boat of the fishermen to teach. He used a tax office of to reach a crowd. What do you have that God wants to use? God uses the invitations to the crowds and the invitation to your close friends, so that ultimately, they hear the personal invitation of Jesus.

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