Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reflections from the book of John #5: This is a test. This is only a test.

John 6:5-6  When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?"  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.  
Most of us have heard the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  If we heard it when we were kids, we don't even think twice about it.  Oh yeah.  Jesus took the five loaves and two fishes, and he fed a ton of people.  And we don't actually even think of the logistics of 5,000 people.

Five thousand people following Jesus around.  Five thousand people sitting to hear him talk.  Five thousand people hoping to touch Jesus, in some way.

I have a hard time picturing it.  And I have a hard time imagining that they didn't think to bring lunch with them.    At least one little boy remembered to pack a lunch.  Or his mother sent him with lunch.  Or something.  But I'm getting ahead.

And then, Jesus asks Philip, "What shall we give these people to eat?"

I'm fairly certain feeding the people isn't one of Philip's top priorities.  He probably wonders why Jesus is tasking him with this job.  "No, please, Jesus.  Can't you give this job to Thomas?  Or James?"  Think about it.  This is an impossible task.  There's no way Philip or even all the disciples can travel to town to buy enough bread.

  • It is unlikely the bakers have that much bread.
  • It would cost a ton of money.
  • Transporting that much bread would take more than 12 people.  
  • Time is of the essence.  The people are hungry now.  
But Jesus already has a plan.  An incredible plan.  Remember that little boy that brought his lunch?  Jesus turns the boy's five loaves and five fishes into dinner for 5,000.  Jesus didn't need Philip to figure out a plan.  This was only a test.  What Jesus wanted Philip was absolute trust and dependence on him.  

And the application to us is clear.  Sometimes we encounter absolutely impossible tasks and situations, and God asks us, "What are you going to do?"  Sometimes we really do have to figure out a plan.  But sometimes, it's only a test.  He wants us to depend on him.  

Jesus loved the people enough to feed them.  
He loves us enough to lead us through those impossible situations. 
Our God is absolutely faithful.  

What impossible situations are you facing today?  

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