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Testing Faith

John 6:1-7
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing those who were ill. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards 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. Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’ (NIVUK)

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.  Philip’s answer revealed what he thought was important: he understood money, but not the power of God which is able to provide for the needs of so many (2 Corinthians 9:8).  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 (Philippians 4:19).  His work done in His way will always receive full provision (Luke 6:38).

The test for us is to see if we move ahead in faith when the Lord calls us, or shudder to a 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.  Even more important than getting the job done is to trust that the Lord will always accomplish what He wants to do.  As John's narrative will show, the Lord will always provide for His work: and we need to trust Him to be the provider.


All-powerful God. Thank You that You always have abundant resources for whatever You choose to do. I am sorry when I get worried and upset when I cannot see how Your work will be supplied. Please help me to trust You as You put me to the test, taking me out of my comfort-zones and teaching me how to trust You in the practical things of life. And help me to encourage my Christian brothers and sisters to be confident that You will meet their needs too, and provide for the work they do for You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams