Are you Philp, Andrew, or ‘the boy’?
by Claire Shackelford
John 6:5-11 (NIV)
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[a] 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?” 10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
I don’t know about you, but when I read this passage I can empathize with Jesus’ position. Have you ever hoped to just sit down and relax when all of a sudden a problem of mob proportions comes right at you? Isn’t it always something ladies? The kids have the flu, deployment is coming soon, you need to move and the car breaks down – it seems at times that the demands of life can get the best of us.
In the passage above we see our Lord just sitting down to celebrate the Passover feast with His disciples. He was a hunted man at this time and He would not allow one thing to happen outside of the sequence of events that His Father had ordained. Jesus had already performed incredible miracles and managed to become the #1 on the most wanted list by the authorities for His work on the Sabbath and equating Himself with God.
We see in our passage Jesus sitting with His disciples after delivering the most profound Christological discourse in scripture (John 5). He certainly deserved a rest and some peace and quiet after all of that! He sits down and as he does so he looks and sees a crowd of around 5000 people approaching them.
Watch the Master at work and learn from His response! If you were to watch me you might see a frustrated woman who does not want to be bothered when she feels she deserves a good rest!
At this point in Jesus’ ministry, His disciples had already witnessed a great deal from the “Son of Man” they followed. He had turned water into wine in front of them, cleaned the temple of money changers, healed the blind, healed from a distance, and reached out to a Samaritan woman and changed her life forever, to name a few! He was not a stranger to them — or was He?
Jesus turns to one of His beloved disciples, Philip and asks a pretty reasonable question. Scripture reveals to us that Jesus asked this question in order to test Philip. Christ simply wanted to know how much it would cost to feed the approaching crowd. Philip immediately does the math and tells the Lord the grim news. It’s impossible.
Later in the book of John (Chpt. 14) Jesus asks Philip “Don’t you know me, Philip? Even after I’ve been with you such a long time?” Philip was standing in the presence of God incarnate, but he relied on his own understanding of the problem at hand. His skills as a mathematician caused him to be short sighted.
Suddenly, Andrew chimes in with some resources to help out with the problem. Andrew found some resources. Sure, it wasn’t barely enough for one man, but Andrew must have remembered what Jesus had done in the past. Andrew spoke up in faith. He knew that 5 small barley loaves (probably the size of rolls) and 2 small fish could not satisfy the crowd, but he knew in the hands of Jesus something good would happen.
There is, however, one unsung hero in this story. Andrew said to Jesus “Here is a boy with …” More than likely this little boy did not have much – this may have been his lunch or supper that he had been carrying. Regardless it was rightfully his, but he shared it. He gave the loaves to Jesus in order to perform the miracle. Jesus could have done the miracle without anything in His hands, but doesn’t it say a lot that He took an offering from an unknown child to feed a multitude of men?
In Matthew 18:3 the disciples were asking Jesus who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus provides them with an answer they probably were not expecting.:
3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
How do you respond when you are facing impossible odds? What is your answer when you are approached by a mob (or angry groups of tired and hungry children)? What do you do when you are being asked to do something that seems to big for you to do?
Do you respond like Philip and forget what the Lord has already done for you? Do you forget what He is capable of? Do you lack the faith to trust Him and rely on your own skills and understanding?
Do you respond like Andrew and offer the Lord some resources, but maybe you still are a little unsure of how He is going to pull it all off? Do you hand your life to Christ with reservations?
Do you respond like the child? Do you give the Lord all you have? Do you trust that He can take even the smallest amount of what you have to share and use it to build His kingdom? Are you content being known by your Savior even if your name is left out of the details?
Father in Heaven, We praise you Lord as the Bread of Life. Your Word truly does sustain us, and we have been saved from spiritual starvation because You have so generously given us all that we need. You have even provided for us above and beyond our needs so that we can share the Bread with those who are dying from spiritual malnourishment and starvation. Father, help us today to be more like Your child. Help us to trust you with our lives, our decisions, our children, our homes, our husbands, and our resources. In Christ Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Claire Shackelford began writing when she found herself attached to the Army at the hip—at one point her husband and two sons were serving. It was then she began writing about her journey through separations and deployments from a Christian perspective. She never faced deployment with her husband, but she has been through 2 now with her oldest son. Claire holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and she serves as a ministry leader with Christian Military Wives as well as on the Board of Directors for Christian Military Fellowship.