“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”“ (John 6:5-7, NIV)
Philip and I are a lot alike. We’re both thinkers. I’m not saying my thoughts are correct or deep or anything like that. I’m just saying the cogs in my brain churn and clank around a lot. I’m not rash or impetuous. When my wife wants to change plans suddenly… “Hold on…let’s think about this!” When she has a great idea, she’ll tell you my initial response is: “Nope.”
I imagine Philip, watching the crowd gathering over the hours. He’s a bean-counter, so he’s estimated 5,000 men plus women and children – 10-15 thousand people! He’s watching the green grass of the hillside disappear and become a sea of eager faces hanging on Jesus’ every word. Jesus is teaching on the Kingdom…he’s telling stories…he’s making the people laugh and smile. They’re eating this stuff up! Then Philip looks at his watch and realizes that the day is waning…they’ve been there for hours.
And if there’s one thing he knows: Jesus is going to want to feed this mob! He’s such a softie when it comes to the crowds! As the administrator of the disciples, he knows this task will fall on him. So the gears come to life: Altogether, the treasury of the disciples is about 200 Denarii – that would feed us, the 12 and the other disciples traveling with us, for eight months. If we took that money to buy bread… Let’s see: We could get 12 wheat roll for a Denarius, but barley is cheaper. We could get 20 barley rolls for a Denarius. If we broke them in half…then into quarters. But where in the world would we get them way out here in the country at this time of day?
So when Jesus asks, Philip has a ready answer: “Nope. Can’t be done, Jesus. I’ve pored over it in my mind and it just can’t be done.”
Of course, Philip was right. Using Philip’s methods of problem-solving, nothing short of a miracle would feed those people. Well, as you and I (and Philip) know, miracles are Jesus’ business.
I believe Jesus wanted Philip to hear himself say the words – out loud – coming from his own mouth: “Jesus you can’t do it.” That way, once Jesus fed them all from 5 loaves and 2 fish, Philip would never ever repeat that phrase.
I don’t know what miracle you need in your life this week, but I dare you to tell Jesus he can’t do it!
Just believe! Join us Sunday as we continue our sermon series “The Twelve” as we look at how God changed a nay-saying bean-counter like Philip into a great disciple.
See you Sunday!