I was not lost, nor had I strayed from home as my introduction may suggest. The reason I was found was that Jesus, the Teacher, had come looking for me. He found me because He wanted me on His team. What I am saying is, Jesus specifically came my way. I am "Philippos," (Philip), the fifth disciple. The name is Greek and means, "friend" or "lover of horses." It was a popular name among kings, generals, leaders and those who respected the influence of Alexander the Great, whose father happened to be Philip of Macedonia. For whatever reason I was named Philip, I found it to be convenient and practical. With my name, I could access places and individuals that people with Jewish names could not. Like Andrew, I too could travel about the country without raising any suspicion. I, too, looked for the Christ and when Jesus sought me out and asked me to follow Him, I immediately responded. I had no doubt that I, too, had found the One of whom Moses and the prophets had written. Like Andrew, I too came from Bethsaida and like him; I easily made friends and I knew my way around the country. I was a person who could bring people together and also find ways to meet human needs. And I believe that my name was quite useful in my Lord's undertakings. I also believe that is why Jesus chose me to represent the people of non-Jewish descent.
I had not fallen while I was a disciple of Jesus. I had fallen before I became one of his. My real name is Matthew Levi, son of Alphaeus. And my occupation was tax collector. Even without attempting an explanation, my name and occupation give you some idea how I had fallen. But, allow me to indulge a little for the sole purpose of showing that if Jesus was interested in me, He will be so much more interested in you. The religious people in my day would not touch me with a ten-foot pole; yet, Jesus defied public opinion and invited me personally to follow Him. Was I really that bad or did the people make me out to be that bad? What do you think?
I was a lawyer or an interpreter of our laws. In fact, I was regarded as an expert in the legal profession. We had mainly two schools of legal interpretation. The Pharisees believed in an after life and the Sadducees did not. I was a bit skeptical about a life beyond and tried to ask ambiguous questions of those that believed in eternal life. For instance, one of my colleagues asked Jesus which one of her seven husbands would she keep in heaven? I used a more personal approach and asked Jesus directly, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
I am one of the people who laid a trap for another human being and I fell in myself. It all began when I invited Jesus to have a meal with me. He was eager to recline with me at the table in my home. He was quite at ease and I was very tense. I had my reasons; for, I was a Pharisee. It was unorthodox for me to be hospitable with this unrecognized Teacher. I could eat with Him across the table, but I could not be cordial with Him. I could not welcome Jesus with a kiss, wash His feet or anoint His head with oil. He was not of our class. Nevertheless, I invited Him so that I could ascertain whether the rumors about Him were true? I also was hoping that something would happen that would support my suspicion. For that reason, I announced that it would be an open luncheon so that someone could come in and embarrass this self-made Prophet Sure enough, a notorious woman was in the neighborhood and became the bait for my trap. She came in unannounced and brought with her an alabaster jar of costly perfume. She took her place behind my guest and began to weep. Her tears fell on Jesus' feet. Next, she wiped the tears off His feet with her hair, and kissed them. Then she poured her perfume on His feet.