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In chapter 6, we find Jesus and His disciples ministering by the sea. After teaching, preaching, healing, and serving people for hours, Jesus realizes that He and the disciples hadn’t even taken time to eat, much less rest, so they cross the sea intending to go up a nearby mountain for a little R&R. (Rest is an important practical ministry application and one that Jesus encourages!) Jesus sees thousands coming toward them. He turns to Philip and asks, “Where are we going to buy enough bread to feed all those people?” Jesus already knew, but his question sets the stage for His disciples to learn a valuable lesson about trusting!
Rather than trusting and believing in Jesus though, the disciples looked at the situation and decided to let the physical circumstances dictate what they should do (Mark 6:35-36). “Send them away so they can feed themselves”, was their only reasonable conclusion! Think about how messed up that was. The people were there to see Jesus, but the disciples wanted to send them away! Knowing Bethsaida was the closest town and it was Philip’s hometown, Jesus turns to him specifically and asks for another solution. Have you ever wondered if a situation was Jesus testing you? Perhaps so, but only if it serves to refine and strengthen your faith, otherwise it’s a temptation! There’s a big difference between a test from Jesus and a temptation! Temptations come about from the desires of our flesh and Satan preying upon our propensity to sin (James 1:12-14). No truer words have been spoken than those of one tripped up by temptation saying, “I couldn’t help myself!” They’re right; you can’t help yourself, but Jesus can if you trust in Him! Even in the midst of being tempted, Jesus is there for believers helping us escape temptations and enabling us to grow stronger in our faith and obedience to Him (1 Corinthians 10:13). John, reflecting on the events, acknowledges that the answer was humanly impossible, but Jesus wasn’t looking for an answer, He was testing Philip to help further develop and refine his faith and obedience to follow Him!
Lesson4Life: Jesus tests us to grow and refine our faith, not crush it!