Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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Phillip walked with Simon the leper and his wife Martha from the Temple Service where the church that had sometimes been uncomfortable with Philip’s Greek name had encouraged him and prayed for him as he prepared to leave. Many had gone out from the Jerusalem church. Some were driven more by the danger of persecution than they were by the final command of Jesus, but all of them went with the gospel in their hearts. Martha had seen her own sister sail for Asia. Phillip was the first of the twelve apostles to go beyond Israel. Simon had invited him to stay that night at their home in Bethany. It would be better to begin the journey in the cool of the next morning. Simon had agreed to travel with Phillip to the coast. The apostle intended to preach in the villages surrounding Joppa before sailing for Greece.
On the walk from Jerusalem to Bethany they talked about those from the church who had suffered persecution. Phillip almost wept as he told about people who had been imprisoned or beaten. Some had even been killed. When they arrived at Simon’s home, their servant washed the dust of the road from Phillip’s feet as Martha began preparing for the evening meal. Phillip was able to rest a while before they broke bread. Simon prayed as Jesus had, asking the Father to bless the loaves.
After they had eaten a little Martha asked, “Can you tell us why you are leaving Jerusalem, Phillip? Is it because of the increasing danger of hostilities against us here?”
Phillip finished a bite he had dipped into the sauce and then said, “No. It is because I have sensed our Lord sending me out. The other disciples have been praying with me and they too are convinced that God is sending me at this time.”
Simon said, “But don’t you think you should wait longer before going out? Exciting things are still happening here.”
Phillip said, May that always be true. But Jesus told us we were to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.”
Martha asked, “Why then have Peter and the other apostles not gone out?”
Phillip said, “Peter and John and others have been to preach in places like Samaria, Joppa, and Capurniam in Galilee. And Martha, your brother has gone to Cypress.”
Simon said, “But you are going farther than that. How will the Greeks understand anything about the true God?”
Phillip shook his head. “I am not sure. But few people will listen to me here. I am not named, like you Simon, after the leader of the Macccabeans. I am named after the father of Alexander the Conqueror. As we were praying, one of the other apostles said He believed my name would help to proclaim the name of Jesus to those who know nothing about Him. Of course, I will tell Jews about Jesus as well.
I am convinced that God is speaking. When we were entering the city that final time before the cross, the people came out to meet us shouting ‘Hosanna!’ Jesus found a donkey and rode it into the city. At that time none of us knew what that meant. Later John and Peter, and I think you and your sister, Martha, remembered that the prophet had said, ‘Fear not daughter of Zion. Your king is coming to you riding on the colt of a donkey.’ God also spoke to us through Jesus. Our Lord still speaks to us by His Spirit.
In that final week before Jesus was Crucified some Greeks came to me asking to see Jesus. I went to Andrew for advice. Together we told Jesus. Jesus immediately knew God was speaking. He announced that ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.’ He went on to say His soul was troubled about what He was going to face on the cross. He said, ‘What shall I pray, “Father save me from this hour? No Father, glorify your name!”’ After He said that, there came a voice from heaven, ‘I have glorified it and will glorify it again!’ Some people said it must have thundered, though there were no clouds in the sky. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to Him.’
“Jesus said that voice was for us. God spoke to me on that day, and He is still speaking. The most important thing we do as His people is to hear and obey God’s voice. And God will be glorified as Jesus continues to speak through us.”
Simon said, “But Philip, it may cost you your life. Do you want to die in some strange place far from everyone who has loved you?”
Philip said, “That is in the hands of our Lord. On that day that I spoke about, Jesus was troubled in His spirit. He said, ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.’ We can see now that He was speaking of His own death. But I also believe that what He said will apply to me, if that is His will.”
This story drew upon events recorded in the 12th chapter of John.
Father, you still speak through your Holy Child Jesus. Bring our hearts and lives to obey your voice.
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