Surrounded by a crowd of over 5,000 in a remote location, Jesus asked Philip how all the people could be fed. It was a test of Philip's faith; and the prelude to important teaching to the disciples about how Jesus is the essential source of life for those who want eternal life - the Bread of Life (John 6:25-59). Philip's answer could have expressed faith in Jesus, or focussed on the practical logistics of finding supplies as there were no towns close by; but instead, he calculated the cost per mouthful!
Jesus did not need advice or helpful suggestions, but Philip needed the challenge to think differently about divine resources. His background as a trader in Bethsaida gave him a keen sense of cost, but his answer showed that he had little idea about the value of having Jesus in charge. It was a significant test of what mattered to Philip: he understood money, but not the power of God in being able to provide for the needs of so many. So he could offer no suggestion about how the people might be fed.
Often, those with experience of 'doing deals' or finance tend to develop a way of thinking that is 'resource limited'. They focus on what they have and what it would cost to have more. However, although it is important for those involved with gospel ministry to be wise and prudent, the Bible teaches us that God is always greater than our resources. His work done in His way will always receive full provision. The test for us is to see if we move ahead in faith or stop when we can no longer control the situation by our own efforts and supplies. The Lord will always include a test about resources at least once, and often many times, in a Christian's life. As John's narrative will show, the Lord will always provide for His work: and we need to trust Him to be the provider.
© Dr Paul Adams