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Philip flunked

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Read: John 6:1-15

[Jesus] was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do (John 6:6).

 

In college, I had the, ahem, joy of taking a class about the history of the English language. The professor would ramble on and on about his life and all kinds of odd facts during his lectures. We listened intently, however, because his tests were famously difficult. He didn’t simply ask us to recall facts, he required us to think differently. The questions were designed to ensure that we could apply our knowledge in unique ways.

Jesus had something similar in mind when He tested Philip. Jesus asked him where they could buy enough bread to feed the thousands of hungry people who had followed them (John 6:5). Would Philip simply focus on the bare facts of the situation, or apply all that he knew about Jesus?

Unfortunately, Philip flunked the test.

He tallied up the money the disciples could earn and then compared it to the estimated grocery bill for the food that would nourish the crowd. His calculations led him to believe that the situation was hopeless (John 6:7).

Jesus knew that Philip would “fail” the test by overlooking His miracle-working power. He knew the disciple would miss an obvious hint: The crowd was there because they’d seen the miracles Jesus had performed (John 6:2). Still, the Lord supernaturally multiplied the food in a little boy’s lunch until it was enough to feed everyone present (John 6:12).

Could it be that some problems we face are designed to test our faith? God already knows the results we’ll achieve, but He wants us to grow in our faith by relying on what we know about Him—not simply focusing on our circumstances. God is able to “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). That’s the right answer for any test!

 

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