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, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
I imagine it wasn’t easy being a disciple – the constant crowds, the threat of being caught by authorities, low pay and Jesus constantly challenging them to be better (Just to mention a few of the frustrations!). In last week’s reading Jesus was attempting to escape the crowds but “When he saw them he had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” In this week’s reading Jesus sees a people hungry and instructs his disciples to feed them. The reaction of the disciple Philip is not very promising at all.
Immediately Philip begins thinking about himself and the personal cost of doing as Jesus asks. Not to mention demonstrating a tendency to open his mouth before thinking! The reality of the Christian life is that Jesus calls us to listen closely to his teachings and to act regardless of the personal cost. As Philip shows us in this reading, even those close to Jesus get it wrong sometimes. As the gospel later shows us, the disciples get it wrong time and time again.
How often are we moved by the spirit to take action but ignore this call, act too quickly and mess it up or open our mouths and start telling God how he has it wrong? I often think that Jesus had a smile on his face when he asks Philip “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Jesus likely knew that Philip would react like he did and then provide Jesus with a moment in which he could teach the disciples (as well as all of the people of God) about God’s power and overwhelming generosity.
As we go about our lives we must always be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and be ready to react not with thinking “this is impossible” but thinking with great excitement “what is God going to do to enable this to happen?”
May all of us in the Sunshine Christian School community walk in the generosity demonstrated to us by Christ Jesus.