01 May 2008

St. Philip and St. James, Apostles

In addition to celebrating the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, the Church today remembers St. Philip and St. James, Apostles.

In John 1:43-51, Philip introduces Nathanael to Jesus the Messiah, uttering his famous evangelistic words: "Come and see!" How simple is that! Who needs fancy, glossy evangelism programs or multi-million dollar mission movements, when we can simply imitate St. Philip and say a simple, "Come and see Jesus in His Gospel and Sacraments on a Sunday morning"? It worked well for Philip; it will work well for us too, I'm sure.

In John 12:20-26, Philip introduces yet more people to Jesus, this time some Greeks. The Greeks say, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus," and Philip, along with Andrew, gladly obliges. What another great example of the proper, Biblical way of evangelism and missions: when people want and need to see/hear Jesus the Savior, step out of the way and direct them to the Lord Himself! I often think this is great wisdom for pastors. When people come to church and to the altar, they don't come to see my ugly mug or whatever antics I can dream up. No, they come to see Jesus, and, as a pastor, my job is to step out of the way and let them see Jesus.

And what about James the Less? Evidently, he would also carry the name James, son of Alphaeus, and other than that, not much is made of him in Holy Scripture. Not all of the Apostles can be famous, after all; not all can have easy name recognition, you know. It must mean that James the Less was simply a faithful Apostle, carrying out His Lord's bidding, even to the point of being martyred (the color for this Feast day is red, after all!). Our Lord Jesus uses even the less-known and the little-recognized among us to bring people to know and trust that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What a great comfort and blessing!

Almighty God, Your Son revealed Himself to Philip and James and gave them the knowledge of everlasting life. Grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the way, the truth, and the life, and steadfastly to walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Hymn Verse:
We praise You, Lord, for Philip,
Blest guide to Greek and Jew,
And for young James the faithful,
Who heard and followed You.
O grant us grace to know You,
The way, the truth, the life,
To wrestle with temptation,
To triumph in the strife. (LSB 518:16)

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