John 6:1-Jesus travels across the Sea of Galilee (in the past it had been called Gennesaret, now Galilee, and later Tiberias…named after the city built on its shore by Herod Antipas in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius). A great multitude of people followed Him because of the signs He was performing. It was the time of the year for the celebration of the Passover. Jesus saw that the people who were following Him were hungry. He asked Philip where they could buy food for them. Jesus already knew what He was going to do. But, He took this as an opportunity to present Philip with a “test” (:6)…an opportunity for him to deal with a situation by having faith in Jesus. Do you think that God ever allows us to enter into circumstances and situations that He wants to use as an opportunity for us to have faith in Him, to trust Him? He allows us to be tested. Maybe it would be wise at such times not to pray, “God, get me out of this!” But rather, “God, what do You want me to get out of this?” Someone has said that God will test us to prove us true. But that Satan will tempt us to prove us false. Andrew spoke up and told Jesus that there was a young boy there who had five loaves of bread and two fish…but that would not be of much good since there were about 5,000 men. But little is much in the hands of Jesus. What we have will always be enough when we offer it to Jesus. Jesus gave thanks for what they had, began to break the bread and fish into pieces and pass it out to the people, and He fed them all. In fact, John says that the people ate “as much as they wanted…And when they were filled” (:11,12). On top of that, there were 12 baskets of bread left over. The people saw this sign (this is the fourth sign that John identifies) and believed that Jesus was the prophet the Old Testament predicted. We tend to look at what we don’t have and to worry. But God looks at what we do have…and uses it for His glory. Jesus realized that they were going to try to take Him by force and make Him a king…so, He quietly slipped away, alone. How many times have people wanted to make Jesus their king not because of Who He is. But, because of what they think He could do for them? They never get past this perception of Jesus. The truth is…Jesus didn’t come to just provide bread for life. He is the bread of life. This provision of earthly bread was an opportunity for Him to tell them that He is spiritual bread (:26-35).
When evening came, the disciples got into a boat and headed across the Sea of Galilee towards Capernaum…Jesus was not with them, He not returned from the mountain. The disciples started crossing the Sea of Galilee and a storm began to blow. As they were rowing, they looked up and Jesus was walking on the water towards them. They were frightened by what they saw. But Jesus identified Himself and told them to not be afraid. Jesus got into the boat, and immediately they reached their destination. Have you ever become impatient in a situation and acted before Jesus arrived? You prayed…but didn’t receive an answer. So you prayed again…and perhaps again…but no answer. You have to make a decision, to do something. And you act. Then, when a storm comes up and things get rough, you begin to doubt God, to question God, or even blame God. God had nothing to do with it. You got into the difficulty because you launched out without Him. But remember, even then, God is with you and is willing to help you. There are three possible scenarios at this point. In the first two, we recognize God’s presence and respond to Him in faith. Like the disciples…we invite Him into the boat. In the first case, He may save us from the situation…as Jesus did with the disciples…”immediately the boast was at the land to which they were going.” However, in the second case, while He may ultimately save us, He may also allow us to go through the storm, to experience the consequences of our bad decision. It could be that it is an opportunity for us to learn to trust in Him and to wait patiently for Him and not act on our own. Or, it could be an opportunity for others to watch us and to see how a follower of Christ is to respond to difficulties. There is a third possible scenario. It isn’t good. We don’t respond to His presence in faith. Sometimes we become so focused on the storm, the problem, that we don’t even see Jesus when He is standing right in front of us. And we don’t invite Him into the boat. We don’t trust Him to handle the situation. Or, we allow pride to get in the way. For whatever reason, we become angry or bitter, we become self-centered and determined…and we are unwilling to submit to God’s decision. Each time we respond in this manner…it affects our faith. We become less and less submissive and obedient. We act on our own, more and more. And as a result, our faith in God, and our fellowship with God is diminished.
Prayer: Lord, I don’t think that Philip recognized that You were testing him. He saw the problem…but not the answer. Please help me to see You at work in every area of my life…to recognize that You are always at work and that every situation I encounter is an opportunity for me to trust You. I don’t understand why the disciples left without You in the boat. Please, don’t let me ever attempt to go anywhere, or do anything without You.