Jesus, the Problem Solver
By Scott Fiddler
The Word: John 6:1-14
1After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias).
2A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.
3Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples.
4Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.
5Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”
6This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.
7Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”
8One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, *said to Him,
9“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”
10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.
12When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”
13So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
14Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
When I read this passage from the Gospel of John, three points were impressed upon me.
First, John bolsters the credibility of the account he is getting ready to describe with the particulars. He notes the place (on the mountain the other side of the Sea of Galilee), and the time (near the time of the Passover), and who was there (the disciples and a group including 5,000 men). I do this as a trial lawyer. I have a case right now that turns on whether a verbal promise was made by the defendant to my client. I will have my client describe the meeting where the promise was made in as much detail as she can remember before she ever testifies about what was promised. Likewise, John was specific; he didn’t say, “Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away.” This was no fairy tale.
Second, I am taken by Jesus’ concern for the people and the fact that they might be hungry. So what if these people missed a meal. It wouldn’t kill them. Besides, they had come to see Him, to see the show. Lady Gaga doesn’t worry about whether the 10,000 who come to see her show are going to eat that evening. That’s their problem. But Jesus did care, and His care for people in this situation demonstrates His love and concern for us in every situation.
Third, Jesus is the solution to problems we can’t solve. Jesus poses the question to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so the these may eat?” John says in retrospect that the question was a test. There were thousands of people there and Jesus wanted to feed them. This was a problem that needed to be solved, and Jesus placed the problem firmly in Philip’s lap. He let Philip grapple with the problem—“stand in the pain of the question”—as my friend Dennis Peacocke says. It is by standing in the pain of the question that we learn how to solve problems. Here, the solution to the problem was Jesus. Philip was there when Jesus had turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana. He should have known Jesus was the solution to this problem.
Jesus is a miracle worker.
Jesus loves people.
Jesus is the solution to the problems we can’t solve.