“Jesus looked up and saw the large crowd coming toward him. He asked Philip, “Where will we buy food to feed these people?” 6 Jesus said this to test him, for he already knew what he was going to do.” John 6:5-6 CEB
The congregation had enjoyed singing a couple of hymns. The morning prayers had been offered. One of the members of the church had read the morning Scripture. It was now time for the message, or sermon, to be delivered. The pastor stood up in front of the communion table and began the message. When he was about five minutes into the message he said he wanted the congregation to participate. He then asked everyone to turn in their Bibles, or pew Bible, to the book of Hezekiah. Everyone did as they were asked and started opening their Bibles and frantically trying to remember where the book of Hezekiah was in the Bible. After a minute or so the pastor asked, “Are you having trouble finding it?” No one responded. The pastor then said, “That’s because there is no book of Hezekiah in the Bible! Some awkward laughter ensued and the pastor went on to make his point. It was a test to see how many people knew the Bible well. A lot of people failed that day—even the people who knew there was no book of Hezekiah and didn’t speak up. It was not a great test, but it proved the pastor’s point.
There are a lot of things in life that test us. When we are in school we are given exams to test our knowledge of the material being studied. If we want to drive a car we are tested to see that we have learned the rules of the road and how to safely operate a vehicle. Tests are helpful when designed for someone to demonstrate their knowledge, skill, or competency in a given area. There is, however, one problem with tests—people don’t usually like them. Tests can bring on anxiety, fear, stress, and many more not so pleasant effects on a person. People don’t like tests usually because they are concerned that they will not do well on them. Of course, if you are confident in your knowledge, ability, or talent you will most likely not be too worried about a test. What if we viewed every test as a moment to display our knowledge, ability, or talent? I remember when our girls were in early elementary school the teachers would always refer to tests as the students moment to shine. A moment to show off what they had learned. What if we viewed tests the same way?
Life is going to throw us tests. We are going to be faced with situations that allow us to shine. I believe that is the story of this week’s Scripture passage. Jesus turned to his disciples and tested them. He offered them a moment to show off all that they had learned from him. Jesus gave them an opportunity to shine. Jesus had compassion on a growing crowd that had gathered to hear him preach. He knew they were getting hungry and tired. Because of this he asked his disciples about how they could get the people some food. The Scripture says that, “Jesus said this to test him. For he already knew what he was going to do.” Jesus already knew that he was going to feed them. He asked Philip about buying food in order to offer him an opportunity to shine as one of his disciples. To show off all he had learned from Jesus. Reading on you might say that Philip started the test pretty rough. Jesus was patient with him. Finally, Philip said that there was a boy with some food, but it probably wasn’t enough. Jesus took Philip's response to the test and made it into a miracle. Feeding everyone and having enough left over for the disciples.
How are you doing with life’s tests? Is it possible that some of those tests you are going through are Jesus giving you the opportunity to shine? Could Jesus be allowing you room to show the world all you have learned from Jesus? It just might be that Jesus will take your response to the test and add in a little miracle. The tests Jesus puts in our life are opportunities to show how much Jesus can do when we turn things over to him. Whatever test you are facing—shine! Put your faith in Jesus and help others see what can be done through faith.
This Sunday we conclude the message series entitled “Being Missional.” We will explore the way Jesus empowers his believers to be released to change the world. We will explore what it means to live out our faith through service to new people in new places. I hope you will join me this Sunday at 8:15|NINE45|11:15 a.m. for worship. You can also go to SAUMC.NET and join us via livestream. The best is yet to come. I love you all and can’t wait to see you in church!