I have done things to test my kids from time to time. I haven’t done it a lot, but I have done it a time or two. I’ll see something that they’re supposed to do without being asked, and just watch to see if they do it. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, but others I see I have more work to do in teaching them.
That’s the same feeling I get from this passage concerning Jesus testing his disciples. As we have seen over the course of this week, Jesus has been doing things to build the faith of his disciples. Of course, we understand why – He needed to make sure they were ready to take on the revolution once his work was done. But the disciples didn’t fully grasp this. My guess is if they knew the full extent of what was going to happen, they probably would have been a lot more trusting and eager to learn. Not that they weren’t already, but even more so.
Now for us. We have the benefit of seeing the whole story – of Jesus and the church. We don’t know the whole story of our lives, save for one thing – we have been saved and will spend eternity with Him. However, there is still much we don’t know and won’t know until we walk through it. The question for us is, will we respond like the disciples did so many times? We do. Our hope is not to, but we do.
But, when we think about all that we have. We have the full story of the gospel. We have the disciples story, Pauls and others who walked by faith and left a legacy for the world. Can we use the perspective we should have as a result of their story to build faith into our lives so that we can do – without fear – the work God has called us to do? Will we, stand on the shoulders of their faith or will we allow ourselves to be shaken by trials in this world that we know we will conquer?
John 6:1-14 (NET)
The Feeding of the Five Thousand
6 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias). 2 A large crowd was following him because they were observing the miraculous signs he was performing on the sick. 3 So Jesus went on up the mountainside and sat down there with his disciples. 4 (Now the Jewish feast of the Passover was near.) 5 Then Jesus, when he looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread so that these people may eat?” 6 (Now Jesus said this to test him, for he knew what he was going to do.) 7 Philip replied, “Two hundred silver coins worth of bread would not be enough for them, for each one to get a little.” 8 One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “Here is a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many people?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” (Now there was a lot of grass in that place.) So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed the bread to those who were seated. He then did the same with the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were all satisfied, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather up the broken pieces that are left over, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves left over by the people who had eaten.
14 Now when the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus performed, they began to say to one another, “This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
God, help us to know your word. Help us to know the stories of those who have gone before us and to be built up and encouraged by their faith. Help us not to see our lives with the proper perspective, and to have the faith in you to do through us what you put us here to do.