Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." (John 6:5-7)
Jesus did everything deliberately and purposefully. Even as he was preparing to meet the physical needs of thousands of people, Jesus saw a need in Philip, and he was prepared to meet it, too.
We first meet Philip in the first chapter of John’s account, in verses 43-46. Philip was chosen by Jesus to be one of his disciples, and his testimony was pivotal in Nathanael’s coming to Jesus. Undoubtedly, Philip had true saving faith. But he was a prototypical disciple, wasn’t he? Brimming with confidence with Jesus at times, but often filled with doubts and uncertainty. In chapter fourteen, Jesus chides Philip, along with “doubting” Thomas:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14:1-10)
Philip needed to know Jesus. This was the essence of the test that Jesus had prepared for him. Testing is an essential part of every disciple’s formation. Read James 1:2-3. The word “trials” in this passage comes from the same root word as “test” in John 6:6. What benefits does the disciple derive from testing? Now read 1 Peter 4:12-14. What is the intended result of our trials and testing?
We’re just like Philip. We need to know Jesus; we need to know that he is able; and we need testing. We’ll never be everything that God intends for us to be without it.