In the middle of a glorious season of ministry, Jesus led His disciples into a time of rest and solitude; "And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples" (John 6:3). We all need times when we are quiet and can simply sit at His feet; but alas, such times seldom last long. Times of refreshing are absolutely necessary. But they are necessary because they prepare us for further ministry, and for further testing which is used to continue the process of being "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29).
John 6:5-7 "Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?' But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, 'Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.'"
When Jesus first saw the great multitude of people, "He began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34). Jesus demonstrated great compassion for those who were gathered and even "healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14). Phillip had directly seen the miracles of Jesus, had just returned from a successful ministry trip, and was now in the middle of a great healing and teaching service. But when Jesus tested Phillip by asking how to deal with a seemingly impossible physical problem, he looked only at the available physical solutions and determined the situation to be hopeless.
A denarius was the acceptable pay for one day of work (Matthew 20:2). The term 200 denarii is therefore sometimes translated as "Eight months' wages" (NIV). Phillip was making the point that it would take a completely unreasonable amount of money to buy enough food for each person to have even "a little." Did Phillip fail the test?
In one sense, Phillip surely failed. Phillip had walked side by side with the Creator of the Universe but, when faced with a physical difficulty, had failed to look past his physical surroundings. But in another sense, this was not a pass or fail type of test. Jesus already knew what was in the heart of Phillip, and He didn't need the answer to the question of where to buy bread. Yet He asked as a way of revealing a weakness so it could be refined and made stronger; "knowing the testing of your faith produces patience...that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:3-4).
We never stop needing to rest, minister, or learn. Neither are we ever freed from times of testing. Jesus loves us so much that He continually strengthens us by stretching us past what is comfortable and revealing our need to make His Spiritual truths a practical reality. He can be trusted in ALL things - and that means our eternal destiny as well as our daily physical circumstances. Let's embrace His truth and apply it in every area of our life. Let's trust Him more - right now - and be made complete through our times of testing.