Taking God’s Test


We are continuing from yesterday to talk about the testing of the disciples by Jesus before He fed the five thousand with fish and bread. The One Who created all things (Colossians 1:16), God in the flesh, was standing before Phillip, and the only faith that Phillip could muster was to believe God for a mouthful. God thinks in terms of filling our stomachs. Here’s the text again:

5When 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?" 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" 8Another 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?" (John 6:5-9 Emphasis mine).

You would think that these men who had seen Jesus perform miracles of healing day after day could respond with words, such as “Lord, amid this need, I don’t know how, but I know that you can and will meet the need.”

How like each of us they were. Thank God for His grace. We all need God’s help at each stage of our lives; we are not meant to do life apart from God. The unseen God is watching us and shaping test after test to mature us in His grace. When we get through one challenging test, hopefully, we have grown spiritually and reached a new level of faith to overcome that kind of challenge the next time. If not, we go around the mountain again and face the same test, perhaps in a different situation. We must never lean on the arm of flesh because that only brings another testing challenge from the Father, Who is training all His children in overcoming. No, we must turn to the upholding hand of the Lord's grace and abandon all hopes of sustaining ourselves by our energies and abilities.

Next for the test was Andrew. It is possible that Andrew voluntarily took the test, for we do not read that Jesus asked him. How did Andrew come across the boy with his packed lunch? It seems as if he went out looking, wondering what kind of food was out there by asking people about the food situation. We don’t know how he found the boy, but he brought him to Jesus with his packed lunch. Then he went and spoiled it all with his words, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (v. 9). Andrew was making his faith calculation without considering Who he was with! Along with Philip, Andrew also could not see beyond his resources to Christ's power and provision. They both missed an opportunity to speak words of faith that would have pleased the Lord. The Lord longs to see faith in God expressed by words and works. And without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

Maybe today each of you can look at the difficulties you are facing, lack of finances, lack of energy, lack of opportunity, name your anxiety, and put it into words to the Lord. Tell Him that you are turning to Him as your loving Father. Be open, though, to see how God will supply the multiplication. Don't expect Him to drop resources out of the sky for you; He usually uses an opportunity or friends. Also, don't stand at home waiting for the multiplication to come, like Andrew, you might need to go looking. If he hadn't gone looking, there would have been nothing for Christ to multiply. Keith Thomas

This meditation is a shortened version of the in-depth study:Jesus Feeds Five Thousand