Insert text here.
John 6:3-9, NIV
3 Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Feast was near. 5 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?" 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 9 "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
March 5, 2011A multitude of people made for a multitudinous problem. The more sick people he healed, the more appeared on his horizon. Those who were well and able, went and found others who needed his healing touch.
So Jesus took the disciples and sought refuge on the side of a mountain. There he sat down. Sitting was the position from which a Rabbi taught his disciples. Or maybe they all just required some rest. The Passover was near, possibly they needed quiet time to prepare themselves for that annual event which would take them back to the Temple in Jerusalem and all the unresolved controversies left behind after their previous visit.
But when Jesus looked up, he saw a great crowd approaching. Five thousand men, plus any women and children who could make the trip. This created a dilemma. The mountainside was isolated and not travel-friendly. These men, bringing their sick for healing, would be hungry after walking so far.
Jesus turned to Philip and asked where they could buy food for all these people! Philip didn't see any reason to be talking about buying food because they didn't have enough money to purchase food for 50 men, much less 5,000. Andrew had an idea, but as soon as he voiced it, he heard how silly it sounded.
Jesus and his disciples were definitely in a pickle. Or so it would seem to anyone who was watching this scene unfold. But Jesus already knew what he intended to do.
More journal entries
March 8, 2011
Jesus asked a "where" question but Philip heard it as a "how" question. He thinks out loud about how much money it would cost to feed all these people. Then quickly concludes there's no way they could pay for that much bread, not even enough for everyone to get a little bit. Gees, we'd have to work eight whole months to feed this one crowd! Eight months is 2/3 of one's annual salary!
I know some people who think like Philip. Everything is a matter of economics. Each decision begins with a lesson in simple arithmetic. And most of the time, the discussion ends with the same conclusion: It can't be done.
Imagine telling Jesus that something can't be done! But don't we do that all too often!
Eight months wages would provide only "a bite" for everyone. These people would go away still hungry. In contrast, when Jesus did actually feed them, they were full and there was food left over.
Andrew's contribution is also interesting. Andrew was a disciple in his own rite, yet consistently he is introduced as Simon Peter's brother. In the Gospel accounts, he is portrayed as the approachable disciple. In this story it is Andrew who met the child who is willing to share his small lunch.
Was it the child's wish to share his lunch with Jesus? And Andrew's idea to share it more broadly? The people in the crowd who brought snacks with them couldn't eat it in front of those who had none unless they shared, and in their opinion, there wasn't enough to share. Obviously, two cents can't be stretched into a dollar. At the end of verse 9, the answer is still: There's nothing we can do to feed all these hungry people.
Philip's response shows what can happen to your hard earned money. The need and the hunger of the world is so great that what you work so diligently for can be wiped out in one unforeseen situation or one awesome act of compassion. Andrew's response shows the limits of insufficient funds. The sheer number of people in the crowd ensures there will not be enough to go around.
March 11, 1983A test, does God test us often? When God tests me, how do I rate?--Sometimes I escape into sleep, stare, question, make excuses, get distracted, give in to temptation or doubts. Yes, these are all the negatives. But there have been some big tests that I have passed and to me those are the ones that really have made a difference in my life. Is all of life a test? Or just little parts of it?
Philip, you failed this one. But in later years I know you were strengthened to pass some big ones.
Philip thought in terms of the minimum amount of bread required, only enough for everyone to have "a bite". Eight months wages is not what provides food. God does and God deals in abundance. Philip, your answer was so calculated, earthly, businesslike, matter-of-fact. None of these words fit the image of Jesus.
I know some people will identify with working eight months to feed a large group of people, and think wedding reception! Just yesterday I heard about a couple who eloped because they wanted to spend the money on a wedding trip instead.
January 1, 2002Jesus looked out and saw a multitude of people approaching and the first thing he thought about was feeding them. I don't know why this subject came up. Nowhere else are we told anything that would make us think Jesus routinely fed the crowds.
But the question is on the table. Jesus said to Philip, "Where will we get food to feed all these people?" And Philip responded-- It would take more money than we'll ever have to feed all these people, even if we gave them just one little piece of bread. Which is a stingy amount; he was thinking small. Andrew butted in that he saw a boy with 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish. But he quickly added that was nothing among so many. The situation was hopeless and they were helpless. They didn't know what to do.
January 2, 2002
Jesus and his disciples had been spending some precious time together on a hillside, when suddenly they realized they are not alone. There's a great crowd of people joining them. All good things must end. We move on. Now with the crowd approaching, there's a problem of feeding everybody. Nowadays we'd be concerned about bathroom facilities, an issue ignored by all four of the gospel writers.
The concern was for food. The crowd was just arriving and Jesus raised the subject. Mark's account has Jesus feeding them after a day of teaching. That makes more sense to me. But if you read further down these verses in John's Gospel, you notice Jesus had much more in mind than feeding them one meal.
March 10, 1983Back in the first chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus called Philip to be a disciple, but he didn't enlist alone, he brought Nathanael with him. Philip seemed to be easily convinced. He believed without doubting, in contrast to Nathanael who required more time and experience with Jesus.
In this passage, Philip didn't know how or why they were going to feed all these people. "Gee I don't know. What do you think? Man, don't lay that responsibility on me." Philip literally didn't know. It was beyond his ability to handle or imagine. His was a very human reaction to an overwhelming problem.
Jesus was in a teaching mode. He had singled out Philip to pay close attention. Maybe it was about initiative, acting and making things happen, instead of simply responding with eager belief. Jesus was saying something like this: Philip your faith needs to go a step further. I have a lesson to teach you. You see the crowd coming. Think God, think possibility, think miracle, think faith. Instead, you're thinking defeat. You have no answer for my question, no confidence that God is sufficient. To you this situation is hopeless. The problem can't be solved. As you think in your mind and as you believe in your heart, so shall it be. So watch carefully, Philip.
One time Jesus said that if we have faith we can move mountains. The problem for me is knowing which mountain faith will move and which mountain reveals a greater blessing by my having to master it by endurance and hard struggle. Which I should climb, which I should find a way around, and which I had better ask deliverance from because of the dangers lurking therein?