“When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do…. When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.” John 6:5-6, 12-13
Philip was up against a wall. His leader was asking him something that he could not do. Imagine if you were in his shoes. Philip was probably frantically running numbers in his head, as well as a rolodex of the nearest town bakeries, cafes and grocery stores. No matter how he calculated, he was going to come up way short. There just wasn’t enough to feed everyone, no money, and no place nearby to purchase food. Philip had no answers.
Fortunately, Philip was in company with someone who did have answers. He was allowed to be in a situation where he faced a wall, in order for him to experience a miracle moment. Jesus wanted to stretch Philip’s faith, and He probably wants to stretch your faith as well. If Jesus had just asked Philip to feed the disciples, they could have probably figured out a way to make it happen. But, Philip saw the crowd of people. He knew of their lack of money and limited resource. Philip saw the obstacles.
“One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.” John 6:8-9
Andrew, another disciple, was trying to help Philip. He hadn’t solved the problem, but he brought Jesus something. I wonder how any people Andrew asked before there was someone was willing to give everything they had to Jesus. Jesus took the five barley loaves and two fish, blessed it, and handed it to the disciples to distribute. Imagine Philip walking to a small group of people and breaking the bread in his hand only to look down and find more. As he proceeded to the next group, he passed out the bread and fish only to find more in his hand again. His face must have given it away. The look of surprise probably made even Jesus smile. Interestingly, Philip’s miracle moment happened when he was willing to take what Jesus had entrusted to him and give it to others. The crowd probably never knew the extent of the miracle they were part of, but the disciples knew, especially Philip.
At the end of the meal, Jesus told the disciples to gather the leftovers. It seems as if Jesus might had been mistaken. There were only five barley loaves and two fish at the beginning. It was a miracle that all the people were fed. It also says that the people ate as much as they wanted. How could there be any leftovers? But, there were leftovers, twelve large baskets of leftovers to be exact. As each of the twelve disciples were carrying their baskets back to Jesus, they must have been smiling and showing each other their full baskets.
The disciples learned a valuable lesson that day that Jesus not only provides, but provides more than enough. No one could argue with twelve baskets full of bread. And Philip, trying to calculate God’s provision, saw that God is not limited to human means. So, as Philip’s faith was stretched, he was part of a miracle moment, realizing that God does provide!