S31P5 – The disciples’ lessons: Philip
Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was approaching. Jesus looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming toward Him, and He said to Philip, “Where will we buy bread for these people to eat?” But He said this to test Philip, because He knew what He was about to do. Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii (200 days’ wages) worth of bread is not enough for each one to receive even a little.”
Each of us has asked the same question of God in different contexts. I can recall many times during graduate school wondering how I would get through a certain exam or assignment. I would shake my head and ask God how it would be possible for me to complete the task ahead of me. Some people may wonder daily how they will be able to fulfill what is required of them. Whether the tasks are at work, home or school, the question is the same. We may even have this question regarding certain personal relationships. The issue is that there is something for us to do, and we do not know how we will be able to do it. The question we often ask, however, may not be the question we should be asking. Instead of asking how I will be able to make it happen, perhaps I should ask how He will be able to make it happen.
The conversation Jesus had with Philip was a test. We might say it was even a trick question. Jesus asked Philip a question to which there was no answer. Considering the thousands that had gathered in this place, and considering the resources available to these people, there was nowhere they could go to buy enough bread. The practical solution to the problem was unavailable to them. The question Jesus posed was an attempt to get Philip to think beyond that. It is as if Jesus was really asking him whether there was another option for them. And we can see by the miracle that Jesus performed here after praying to his Father that there was another option. Jesus was getting Philip to look beyond the natural circumstances of the situation and seek the Father for a supernatural solution. They could not provide the bread with their means, but God could provide it with his.
When we face a task that seems too great and indeed may be impossible for us, perhaps we should not ask how we will make it happen. Perhaps we should ask God how He will make it happen. If I am presented with a task I cannot accomplish, He is aware of that. In honesty and humility, I also should be aware of that. This acknowledgement of my weakness opens the door to rely on God’s power. Scripture tells us that the power of God is made perfect in our weakness. His ability is made perfect in our inability. When we see that we are unable, we need only ask our able Father how He will intervene. Father, thank You for the times of weakness and inability that allow You to shine, and cause us to remember that You are able to accomplish anything for us.