They Don't Teach This Math in School

There’s a lot of gloom and doom in the news these days. If we listen too much, unbiblical fear may begin to govern our actions because we’re only putting our trust in what we see. 

Imagine for a moment that you are the Apostle Philip. You and your fellow disciples are sitting around Jesus on a mountainside and you’re all watching a large crowd make their way up toward you. You’re tired from rigorous days of ministry. And you’re hungry. This crowd’s arrival probably means a meal is not in your near future. You’re trying not to resent them.

Then from behind you Jesus says, “Philip, where can we buy bread so that these people may eat?”

You think, He can’t be serious. Buy—for the whole crowd? There are thousands of them! Hasn’t Judas given Jesus a financial update lately on this little non-profit? We’re not sure how we’re going to feed ourselves for more than a few days. Not to mention the fact that there’s no bread market for miles.

You reply, “Rabbi, two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

Andrew thought he’d be a smart aleck: “Here’s a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough!” You laugh with a few others.

Jesus smiles at the boy. Then he gets up and walks over to him, tousles his hair, and inspects the meal. He asks, “May I have this?” The boy hands him his lunch. Jesus nods toward the crowd and says, “Have the people sit down.” Andrew looks at you as if to say, “I was just joking.” You shrug and get up to obey your rabbi. You sure hope he has food to eat that you know nothing about.

Two hours later you set a basket load of bread fragments down on the grass, straighten your back, and try to get your mind wrapped around what just happened. There are more leftovers in your basket than there were loaves to begin with. One boy’s lunch became more than enough for everyone. They didn’t teach you this math in school. Apparently five loaves plus Jesus equals 10,000 loaves, or something like that.

The implications of this are huge. If Jesus has this kind of power, your worries are over.

When Jesus performed this wonder, he was giving Philip, the disciples, the boy, the crowd, and us a crucial lesson in kingdom supply-side economics. Namely, that God will supply every need of ours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). If we really believe this, our worries are over.

(Suggested sermon: "Enough for Us")

Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.