Saint Philip was born in Bethsaida in Galilee, the hometown of Peter and Andrew. A disciple of John the Baptist, Philip was a quiet and humble man. He may have been with John the Baptist when he called Jesus “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Jesus called Philip to follow him right after he called the two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew and James and John. Philip did not hesitate to join Jesus. In fact, Philip urged his friend Nathaniel to join him in following Jesus. Nathaniel is thought to be the same man who is usually called Bartholomew when the Twelve Apostles are named (Matthew 10:2–4).
But it took a while for Philip to come to understand who Jesus was. Philip was with Jesus when he fed 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. When Jesus asked Philip how the large crowd could be fed, Philip was sure that the little food they had would not be enough. Later, though, Philip was among the disciples who gathered up 12 baskets of leftovers after everyone had eaten. Read the story together (John 6:1–14).
John’s Gospel records another story in which Philip learns more about Jesus. Some people from Greece approached Philip and asked him to help them meet Jesus. Philip and Andrew went to Jesus with this request. Jesus answered by saying that the time for his glory was close. This indirect answer to the request of the Greeks is understood as Jesus’ announcement that he had come to save Jews and Gentiles alike (John 12:20–26).
Philip was also present at the Last Supper. It was Philip who said to Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus seemed impatient with Philip’s question, but he took the opportunity to teach the Apostles about his relationship with the Father: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8–14).
Philip was with the Apostles and other followers of Jesus who were praying together before Pentecost. With the other Apostles, he received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and was empowered to spread the Good News of Jesus’ teaching (see Acts 1:12–14 and 2:1–4). Philip preached in Greece, Syria, and Asia Minor. He was crucified in Hierapolis, a city in what is today Turkey. It was said that Philip preached as he hung upside down on his cross.
Remind Seeds children that Jesus asked Saint Philip to “Follow me.” Saint Philip the Apostle is a model for all of us as we strive to spread the Good News of Jesus. Discuss with the children some ways they can be leaders and followers. Talk about when and why it is important to follow rules (in school, with parents, to stay safe and have fun). Play “Follow the Leader” using simple directions like “Close your eyes” or “March.” Make your last direction “Put your hands together in prayer.” Then lead the children in this or another simple prayer by having them repeat the lines of the prayer after you:
Saint Philip, we pray for your help.
We want to be good followers of Jesus.
Saint Philip, pray for us.
We want to lead others to Jesus.
Saint Philip, pray for us. Amen.
Promise and Good News children will like knowing that Saint Philip and Jesus were friends. Together, they did things that taught others about Jesus. Point out that praying with others at a meal is one way we share Jesus with our friends today. Practice saying a meal prayer together as a group at a pretend meal. Make placemats with a meal prayer printed on them. Ask the children to decorate a placemat for each member of their families. Laminate the placemats and invite children to take them home for their families to use.
Set up this scenario for Venture children. After he agreed to follow Jesus, Saint Philip was so excited that he shared his news with his friend Nathaniel. Nathaniel was very skeptical, thinking that there was no way Jesus could be as great as Philip said. Philip answered Nathaniel by saying, “Come and see.” Ask the children: Can you think of someone you’d like to invite to “come and see” Jesus? Have the children discuss ways in which they could introduce a friend to Jesus. Ask each child to write a paragraph to introduce Jesus to someone who doesn’t know much about him. Invite volunteers to take turns reading their introductions aloud.
At the Last Supper, Philip asked to see the Father and Jesus explained, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Ask Visions students: How did Jesus show that he could live as a human being, yet be God’s son? Have students read Matthew 4:1–11 to find ways in which Jesus was tempted by worldly things but found a godly way to respond. Take this activity one step further by asking the students to discuss some of the temptations they might experience and then come up with some possible godly responses to these temptations. Give the students time to read James 1:2–7 and 1:12–16 for good advice about facing temptation.
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