The Cloud of Witnesses
Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible
Lesson 2: Philip – Saw Things As They Were
Saw Things As They Were
Jesus was such a wonderful person to be with. There was always such a lot going on that we can only understand with hindsight. In fact, the writers of the Gospels say the same.
Jesus was such an attractive person and interesting speaker that people came from far and near to watch Him and hear Him. On this occasion 5000 were on their way when Jesus asked Philip how they were to be fed. John adds – that was to test Philip – because Jesus already knew what He was going to do.
That’s the wonderful thing about Jesus. When He tests us, it is not so we will fail but learn a defining lesson through it. For us today we can keep the textbook – The Bible – open to make sure we get the correct answer.
God is not interested in our happiness, comfort or equilibrium. He wants to challenge us, change us and cause us to grow in maturity and faith. He will shake everything that constitutes our security until our security is found in Him alone. He will challenge our selfish motives until they are re-centred on the Kingdom of God.
He will cause us to experience discomfort, stress and frustration until we are prepared to do something about those things that dishonour God. He will make us face situations that are outside our understanding and beyond our resources to fix so that our faith in Him matures, and He can cause us to experience some of His almighty power.
However, He doesn’t expect us to be stupid or reckless. That is why I love Philip’s reply and how Jesus went on to respond to Philip’s reasoning. I love God because He is real. Jesus didn’t look at the crowd and say, “Oh don’t worry, Philip, there’s only a handful and we can fix it.” Nor did He cause bread to ‘rain down from Heaven’. He moved naturally in the supernatural.
Yes, it was a miracle – no matter how people may wish to explain it away. The reality is that Jesus performed a miracle. We may not understand them – but isn’t that why they are called miracles? The reality was that 5000+ people got fed that day from 5 small loaves and two small fish – and please don’t forget the basket loads picked up full of leftovers.
Philip saw the crowd, made a quick mental calculation and realised there was nothing he or the disciples could do to help. They were totally out of their resources to fix the problem. He would have to return the problem to Jesus.
When Jesus tested Philip, it was not to show Philip up as a mathematician, a manager, or totally inadequate. It was so Philip could understand the magnitude of the miracle. He wanted Philip to first judge the situation, realise the potential and seek God for the answer and solution.
That is what a life of faith is all about. It is not about making rash decisions or taking reckless actions and hoping God will come to our rescue. It is seeing the situation, evaluating the resources required and trusting God to meet them if ours are inadequate.
It’s looking at the circumstances of life and inviting God into them. It’s being aware of the state of affairs, analysing our position, considering what God might want done and asking Him for His help with the resolution.
God wants to invade our daily lives so people understand He is alive and the answer to their needs. As we become increasingly aware of His will and presence so we will be more able to receive His miracles.
Philip would say to us today...
Let God take the everyday situations of your life and make them extraordinary memory-making events.
Father, I often look at the circumstances of life and wonder what the future holds. However, please help me, like Philip, experience the miracles You can do through them. Amen.
Luke 14:25-35; 2 Kings 6:8-23; Ephesians 3:14-21.
Why did Jesus ask Philip how they were to feed the 5000?
How did Jesus deal with Philip’s realism?
Why does God expect us to be practical before He performs a miracle?