This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Monday, Feb 21, 2022
I was reading the Bible earlier today and was considering John 6, the story of the feeding of 5000. This is one of Jesus’ most famous miracles. I like John’s account of this passage because as I read it, I picture Jesus with a knowing smirk on His face as this happens. He and the disciples are out in the wilderness and there is no place around to eat. The people have walked for miles to hear Jesus preach. During an intermission, Jesus is sitting with the disciples, and He said to Philip, “Where can we go to buy food for these people?” It is hard to decide where to begin with what is wrong with this question.
First, there is no food around. The world of the time of Jesus didn’t have fast food restaurants on every corner like we do now. The idea that you could ever feed that many people on such short notice is crazy even by our modern standards. Imagine going through the drive through to order 5000 cheeseburgers. This seems highly unlikely even with our modern food preparation, storage, and availability. In those days, it would have been even more absurd.
Not to mention the fact that even if that amount of food was available, no one could afford to pay for it by himself. Philip responds that it would cost a year’s wages to feed that many people and that is no exaggeration. Even a meal with a few hundred people brings a hefty price tag. Feeding 5000 would be outrageously expensive.
You can almost hear the exasperation in Philip’s response to Jesus how insane of an idea this is. And almost as if to prove the point, they bring a little kid with 5 loaves and 2 fish to show Jesus that is all they found. This would be like you sending me out to find food to feed 5000 and I come back with a kid with a SpongeBob Square Pants lunchbox. I feel like Philip was making his point to Jesus. There is nothing. This kid brought enough for him; he didn’t have a semi-truck of food with him. It was his lunch. That was all he had. This amount of food would barely feed the kid, let alone the entire crowd.
If you read between the lines, you can almost hear Philip asking Jesus to stick to preaching and the disciples will take care of logistics. The idea of feeding this massive crowd was ridiculous and is something that the Lord should never have asked for.
But there is one line in the passage that makes me think this was exactly the point. As Philip begins to freak out, it says “Jesus already had in mind what He was going to do.” Jesus wanted the people fed. He understood as well as Philip did that there was no food available and there was no way to get it. It didn’t make any difference whether the disciples arranged for the food or the people went to get it themselves. There was no way the people were going to find a meal that night.
I will not speak for you, but I will be happy to speak to me. I find this passage very convicting because all you have to do is change the name from Philip to Tim and it could just as well be about me. I am ashamed at how many times in my life God has asked for something and I gave an excuse or I had an ironclad reason why what was being asked of me was ridiculous. I guess that means I am in good company because I have a story from John 6 where one of the disciples, chosen by Jesus Himself, suffered the same weakness.
The feeding of the 5000 reminds me that God is in the business of doing the impossible. The entire point of this passage was that Jesus cared about the 5000 people enough to make sure they were fed. Getting to freak Philip out was just icing on the cake.
How much time in my life have I wasted freaking out over something that “Jesus already had in mind what He was going to do?” I know that the Gospels don’t tell us this, but once everyone’s belly was full, I am sure Jesus and Philip had a good chuckle at Philip’s expense. I can also assure you that many times in my own life, Jesus and I have had a chuckle at my expense as well. When was the last time you and Jesus chuckled together?