“Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?’ This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” John 6:5-6
Times of great need call for great faith. But we can’t truly know the strength of our faith until it’s tested. Jesus often allowed circumstances that put His disciples’ faith to the test. Today’s passage describes one such example. Jesus knew exactly how He was going to meet the need, yet He presented the dilemma to test and grow the disciples’ faith. Their responses teach us how to approach times of great need as a training ground for developing great faith.
Philip answered Jesus by focusing on their shortage of funds (v7). There just wasn’t enough money to buy food for such a crowd. There are times when our needs outweigh our resources, as well. If we look to our bank account before we look to the Lord, then we’re misplacing our security. Jesus already knows how He intends to meet our needs. So, developing great faith starts by looking first and foremost to Him for provision.
The second response was from the disciples as a group. They proposed sending the crowd away to get food for themselves (Matthew 14:15). Likewise, we tend to look for easy fixes. As a result, our solutions often require little to no faith. But our faith only grows as it’s put to work, which is why Jesus didn’t just solve the problem. He said, “You give them something to eat!” Then He sent them into the crowd to see what was available (Mark 6:37-38). Developing great faith requires making ourselves available and obedient to what God tells us to do.
When Andrew came back with just one little boy’s lunch, he asked, “but what are these for so many people?” (John 6:9). Jesus simply said, “Bring them here to Me” (Matthew 14:18). You see, Jesus blesses what we put into His hands. Not only did He feed the entire crowd but there were 12 baskets left over; one for each disciple’s floundering faith! Trusting Jesus with whatever resources we have brings divine power to the situation.
Jesus had a different solution because He had a different aim. Feeding the crowd was always under His control. So, the real dilemma wasn’t a lack of resources but the disciples’ lack of faith. Do you recognize yourself in any of their responses? Consider how God can use your current dilemma to grow your faith. Developing great faith is the result of giving everything we have and all that we are to Jesus, so He can accomplish all He desires to do.