After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked,“Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.
Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.
– John 6:1-11
Let’s take a look at this New Testament story that most of us have heard since we were kids. From the outside it’s pretty simple: lots of hungry people, Jesus performs a miracle, lots of full bellies with plenty of fish and bread to spare. This is a great story, and the outcome might make us feel warm and fuzzy but apart from proving once again that Jesus performed miracles during His time on earth, how does this passage of Scripture actually apply to our lives?
It seems that Jesus has quite the sense of humor when he tests Philip, almost sarcastically, by asking him for the solution. He is stretching the disciples’ minds and their faith too. And to be honest, if they hadn’t been focussing on earthly things they probably would have gotten the right answer. Philip basically dismisses any possibility of feeding these people, Andrew finds half of a solution but unfortunately his mind is too narrow to follow through. They determine what is and is not possible, when they are standing right next to the One who has performed real miracles in front of them (at this stage Jesus has already turned water into wine and healed many people)!
I think we do the same thing as Philip and Andrew in this story – we assume that we have the authority to deem something ‘impossible’ when the Solution is right next to us, testing us, wanting us to believe in a practical way that anything and everything is possible for Him. The beauty of this story is that despite Philip and Andrew’s narrow-mindedness and even though they searched for a solution, forgetting that He was right there to provide it, Jesus still performed the miracle.
Often we are too busy running around like headless chickens in the midst of our crisis, searching for the non-existant earthly solution when Jesus steps in and very graciously sorts us out. We do not have the authority to determine what is impossible and what is ‘doable’, yet so often that is exactly what we do! This makes me wonder how much more He will bless us if we stop, acknowledge that He is the only solution and ask Him for a miracle in faith? I feel like Jesus will honor us that much more for broadening our ‘mental horizons’ and realizing (unlike the disciples in this story) that He is the only solution.