“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.” John 6:5-6 (NLT)
Apart from the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. That alone should say something to us about what God wants us to learn from this supernatural manifestation. In fact, when you compare the story in each of the gospels, you will see that there were four possible solutions for the problem the disciples and Jesus were facing – how to feed such a crowd.
1. One solution, given by the disciples in Mark’s account, was to send the people away. Get rid of the problem. However, Jesus knew how hungry the people were, and there was no time for travel since it was already evening.
2. Another option came from Philip. He suggested buying food, but that only raised more problems as to where they would get it and how they would pay for it. Philip counted the cost and it added up to about 200 days wages to feed them. Even that, he said, would not be enough to satisfy their hunger. For Philip, money was the answer and they didn’t have enough.
3. A third idea came from Andrew. He came the closest to a solution. Andrew canvassed the crowd and found a little boy with a sack lunch that was willing to donate all he had for the cause, five small barley loaves of bread and a couple of small fish. But then, reality set in and Andrew said, but how far will they go among so many! You have to admire Andrew though. Whenever you read of Andrew in the Bible, he is always bringing someone to Jesus. Still, his faith was tested by the reality of such a small portion divided among so many. How often the need seems greater than the supply!
4. Finally, Jesus spoke up. I love this part of the story. When he asked Philip in the beginning, Where can we buy bread to feed all these people, the Bible says, He was testing Philip, for He already knew what He was going to do! He always does! Jesus took the little boy’s lunch, gave thanks to God, and gave it to His disciples to distribute to the people. Not only did the people eat all they wanted, but the Bible says the disciples collected 12 baskets of leftovers! Even when the demand seems greater than the supply, little is much when God is in it! Nothing is too difficult for God! His word promises that He will supply all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus! (Phil. 4:19)
God will often test our faith so that we may learn to trust in Him even when we don’t know what to do or have the resources to do what He says. In those tests, we only have to offer Him what we have and let Him do the rest! He already has in mind what He wants to do. What a story this little boy must have had to tell his mother when he got home! God wants to write such a story in your life. If you want to see a miracle in your life, offer to God what you have and let Him use it however He wants.
Has God given you a task beyond your ability to do? What do you have that you may offer Him?