He wanted to be shown.
His scientific mind wanted tangible evidence that made faith unnecessary
Many believe that since apostles like Philip could see Jesus in the flesh faith was easier. People of this opinion think that because the apostles witnessed the miracles of Jesus and we can only read about them, therefore, faith was easier for them. Really?
The story of one apostle, named Philip and his attitude, reveals that it was just as difficult for them to believe. Philip had a scientific mind. He wanted to be shown, wanted tangible proof.
Consider that the modern believer has the witness of two thousand years. They are years that prove the claim of Jesus to be the Messiah. They are years that tell of his power and his love and of the supernatural ability of His story to change the lives of billions of people, to inspire epic adventures of faith, to compel missionaries to hazard danger and death, to spark outbursts of creativity, music, art, literature. All of this was not evident to the apostles.
Believers today can point to the impact of faith in Jesus. They can review the history of western civilization and mark the time when all changed for the better; a time when charity prevailed and power diminished. Maybe we want to say that BC no longer means "Before Christ" and AD no longer means "The year of our Lord". Nonetheless, there was time before Christ and there is a time after Christ and his life makes all the difference between one era and the other.
The apostles had to accept all of this on faith. They had no idea of a time after their own lives had ended.
Philip said to Jesus, " Show us the Father and we shall be satisfied." It is the question of every person in every age. We want to see God. We want to be absolutely sure that there is a God. Philip, like the Darwinist of today, wanted tangible evidence. He wanted to be sure. He thought that if Jesus could make the blind see, the lame walk and the deaf hear - If Jesus could feed the five thousand and raise up the widow of Nain's son and Martha's brother, Lazarus, from the dead, then surely, he would be able to give them a tangible evidence of the existence of God!
Strange for Philip to ask for this thing. In what other way could Jesus reveal the existence of God? Did Philip think that Jesus was a mere magician? Did he think that Jesus had conjured up all of the miracles? Was it all a dream? Was it the result of mass hysteria? Had Jesus hypnotized them?
Was it possible that although Philip had witnessed supernatural actions and seen with his own eyes and felt with his own hands the results of those actions, yet, Philip discounted all of that evidence? What did he want? How could Jesus give it to him?
When Philip first followed Jesus he went to his friend, Nathanael. Philip told Nathanael that Jesus was the promised Messiah. But Nathanael thought that Philip was wrong because nothing good could come out of Nazareth. And Philip replied, "Come and see."
There was no use to argue with someone who already discounted Jesus as being less than the Messiah. But if Nathanael could see Jesus and hear his voice and listen to his teaching and experience his great signs and wonders, then surely Nathanael would see the truth of it.
Philip's response to those who do not believe was to tell them to give it a try. He thought that if people would give faith a sincere and honest attempt, they would believe. Philip's viewpoint? -See for yourself!
Some may object that, like all of the followers of Jesus, Philip was only a starry eyed dreamer who wanted to believe. But the evidence concerning all of the disciples including Philip is otherwise.
When Jesus is preaching to five thousand men, not including the women and children (probably several thousand need to be added to the five) it is Philip who does the arithmetic and calculates that two hundred denarii would not be enough to give them a snack! Was Philip a dreamer or a realist?
Philip was with Jesus from very near the beginning of Jesus' ministry. He may have heard John the Baptist preach. He may have seen Jesus' Baptism. He may have been there when John said that the voice from heaven revealed that Jesus was God's beloved son.
Was Philip one of the seekers who heard the Baptist testify, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world."? We do not know. But this we do know that when Jesus called Philip, he followed.
At the end of the ministry, on the night of the Last Supper, just before the garden and the betrayal, Philip said to Jesus, "Show us the Father and we shall be satisfied."
Jesus replied, " Have I been with you so long, and yet, you do not know me, Philip?"
Philip who had been there from the beginning, was still asking for proof! And the only answer that Jesus would give, maybe it is the only possible answer, is for Jesus to point to himself.
...Anyone has seen me, has seen the Father." John 14:9
If you think it was easier for the Apostles to believe, look at Philip. And things have not changed. We still hear so many people say that if they could just see one miracle. Or we hear people claim that if there could be just one proof that there is a god.
Yet, such people believe that an electronic instrument can tell them the age of a dinosaur bone to be one hundred million years old!
The same people can believe that humankind is an accident of so called nature. They swallow whole the idea that one day there was a big bang and suddenly there was a micro organism called life. That over time this micro organism became a amoeba, then a fish and then a shark and then a whale and then one day it landed on the dry sea shore and developed lungs and then feet and then started living in caves and making flint knives and spears and hunting deer and lions, (where did the deer and the lions come from? Oh yeah, the animals were stunted developments of some other micro organisms from that big bang a billion years before!)
Anyway, eventually these ape like animals became human and taught themselves how to read and write and build pyramids and smelt iron and refine gold and make paper, write poetry and compose music and all of the rest.
Yes, my friend, the person who will not believe there is a God will swallow whole the idea that you and I are merely the accidental freaks of a big bang between two hot suns in the void of space billions of years ago. They will fervently believe that this cosmic big bang of two giant fire balls resulted accidentally in the creation of one tinsy whinsy little delicate microscoptic living cell suspended in water from which developed all of life as we know it. And if you tell them that they are believers in this theory, they will tell you that they do not believe it because it is a fact! And how do they know it is a fact? They tell you "because science says it is a fact." Really!?
The answer that Jesus gave to Philip is the same answer that is given to those who want proof today. It is not the miracles, the signs and wonders. It is not the moral and ethical teaching. It is not the new spiritual insights that Jesus provides.
It is Jesus himself.
Jesus is a ontological reality. He is real. He can be known although he cannot be possessed. Having lived, Jesus also died. The mouth of the earth swallowed his blood as that same mouth received the blood of Cain's brother Abel.
But unlike all others, Jesus rose up from the dead. He walked this earth again and revealed himself to the women disciples and to the Apostles. And after a time, he ascended into heaven, returning to the Father.
This Jesus, can be known. We know of him from the testimony of those same Apostles who gave to us the New Testament Bible. And we know him from the testimony of billions of believers who for two thousand years have invited Jesus to be the Lord of their lives.
And if you want to know him, all you need to do is sincerely and earnestly invite him into your life
Tradition says that Philip preached the Messiahship of Jesus in Greece, crete and Phrygia. He is said to have been crucified as a martyr in Hierapolis.
Any doubts that Philip had about Jesus were overcome. He witnessed Jesus die and he saw, hear, touched and ate with Jesus resurrected from the dead. All proof was given. Surely, Philip would not allow himself to be crucified for a starry eyed dream?
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