Putting God in a Box

John 6:1-15 is the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two small fish. This is one of only two miracles that are recorded in all four gospels, and as we know, when God repeats something, it’s important.  (The other is the Resurrection 🌟)

But what can we learn from this story? 

Yes, it was a crazy miracle, and something my brain cannot fathom seeing in real life, but what is so important about this story that God wanted it to be in all four gospels? To be honest, I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I do know there are many things to learn from this short story. 

Logical Phillip

Jesus was seeking solace and headed out to the Sea of Tiberias, but a multitude of people followed him. This wasn’t just a few people. There were 5,000 men! That doesn’t even include the women and children, which could easily double or triple that number. Imagine the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade following Jesus to the sea, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this looked like. 

So they are outside, hanging by the sea and Jesus asks Phillip how they are going to feed the crowd. Jesus wasn’t looking for advice because he already knew what he was going to do, but he wanted to test the disciples and see what their reaction would be. Then Phillip responded in a way that I probably would have responded. He said, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little” (verse 7). This would be equivalent to me saying, “More than half of my annual salary wouldn’t be enough to feed all these people!” 

Phillip’s response was rational. He assessed the situation and determined a logical response based on numbers. It would take a lot of money to feed these people, and even if they had the money, where would they be able to buy enough food? It’s not like there was a Kroger or Chic-fil-a they could hit up. 

Being in Jesus’s close circle, Phillip, more than many others, should have known that Jesus isn’t limited to what makes sense to our finite minds. Yes, there wasn’t enough money or resources, but Jesus doesn’t need our money or resources because he has the power to create out of nothing and the power to perform miracles in times where it seems like there are no other options. Not only did Jesus use five loaves of bread and two small fish to feed the crowd, but they ate until they were stuffed and there were twelve baskets of bread leftover. 

Phillip’s interaction with Jesus in this story shows us our tendency to try to put God in a box or limit him by what seems logical or possible, but God is so much bigger than any box we are tempted to put him in. 

Ask yourself… Are you trying to put God in a box right now?

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