One of my favorite stories in all the Bible comes in John 6:1-14. The story is known as the feeding of the 5,000. That’s a misnomer actually. The text says that there were 5,000 men. Somebody counted. Add not a few wives and children and you have a crowd of easily 10,000 or more.
While the actual number of those who were present is not as important, what is important is what is happening the midst of the story. The crowds had grown around Jesus because of his healing miracles and because the Passover was near. As Jesus looks at the crowd, standing near the Sea of Galilee, he decides that it is time to give his disciples a test.
Stop right here for a moment. That sounds negative doesn’t it? A test. No one really likes a test. A test is meant to stretch you. Challenge you. But when Jesus does it, you can trust that it is always a good thing, and much needed too.
5 “Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” 6 This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” – John 6:5-6
The question is why is Jesus testing them? I would venture to guess that the same lesson he is wanting to teach his disciples here is the same lesson that he wants to teach his disciples today, you and I. So it will be good for us to listen very carefully here.
7 “Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, *said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” – John 6:7-9
Can you identify with the disciples here? I know I can. “Jesus, how in the world would we be able to feed over 10,000 people? I mean have you seen how much organization, planning, effort, and money goes into planning potluck for our meager number on Wednesday nights?”
We have a glimpse here into the window of Jesus’ faith here. The first lesson I learn is that the disciples (and you and I typically) tend to look to our resources first, not God’s. Jesus on the other hand, doesn’t even consider his resources. He considers God’s, which are vast and infinite.
10 “Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. 12 When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” – John 6:10-14
The people concluded that Jesus was “the Prophet.” Not the lesson that Jesus was teaching. But did the disciples learn their lesson? Do we?
Now I get the fact that there is a lot of symbolism here. The bread which represents the bread of life, and how Jesus is the one who’s preaching brings the bread of life. I also see the symbolism of the people being miraculously fed, much like the Israelites were fed in the Old Testament. I think all of these are valid lessons to learn from the text.
But the lingering lesson that I think we really struggle with is the one that the disciples here struggled with. When it comes down to it, do we really trust God? Do we really have faith? Do we understand that faith is believing that what God says is true and that God will supply everything that is needed for His will to be accomplished?
There is a saying that I think is pretty good. “If God calls you to it, He will see you through it.” That’s true. All the disciples needed to hear was Jesus saying, “Where are we going to get bread?” That should have been all the disciples needed. If it had been left up to them, there would have not been enough resources. But since Jesus included himself into the equation, there was more than enough. Again, God’s resources are infinite.
And that was the test.
Do you believe that God’s resources are enough? Has God called you to something and you’ve been frustrated because you’ve been spinning your wheels and racking your brain wondering how you are going to accomplish it and get it done? Maybe it’s time to take it back to God and say, “God I know you want this to be done. Lord I look to you to bring the resources to bring it to pass.”
Now with this said, I have a real life application I need to bring to you. Right now as I write this, I have a friend. She is a 25 year old young woman who has two beautiful children, and who also has cancer. She’s dying. The doctors have told her that she needs to get started on her chemotherapy, but she is torn, because she needs to work to provide for her bills and children. She is a single mom. No support at home. And I can personally vouch for her character because we have tried to help her this summer by employing her at our booth at the fairs we do (side business).
Honestly I have felt guilty employing her because she needs to not be working right now. She needs rest and she needs her treatment. But she has no places to turn to, and no one to help her, and no resources. And as of recent, her struggles are moving her closer to God. So we’ve helped the best we can, but I know that if there is anyone I have ever known that deserves help from the church, it is this young woman.
And here is my dilemma and here is my test (and maybe yours). I don’t have the resources to help her in any ongoing significant way. So I am going to pray and look for God’s. I KNOW He can. And this is where you come in.
If God moves your heart as well to help her, will you message me? God’s vast resources are spread in a million different places. And some of them may even be with you. Will you let me know how much you can help with? Will you join our family in helping her? Thank you and God bless you.