“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 worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (John 6:5-9)
Jesus travels to the far side, or the northeast coast, of the Sea of Galilee or Tiberius. The name change was in tribute to the west coast Galilean town of Tiberius, which was built by King Herod the Great between A.D. 20-30 and named for the Roman emperor.
A large crowd of people are following Jesus. The reason John gives is because of the signs they saw Jesus doing on behalf of the sick. The crowd’s motivation was crass and self-centered but Jesus would continue to have compassion upon these people.
Jesus, in observing the innumerable amount of people who are coming toward Him, poses a question to Phillip, one of His disciples. “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” As usual, the Apostle John contributes an editorial insertion when he writes, “He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.” Jesus is going to perform one of His greatest miracles and in so doing preach one of His greatest sermons on being the bread of life.
Phillip’s response is sincere but man-centered. He replies, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One pastor explains, “Since one denarius was a day’s pay for a common laborer, 200 denarii would be approximately eight months’ wages. The crowd, however, was so large that such a significant amount was still inadequate to feed them.” Perhaps Phillip was referring to the amount of money the disciples had in their possession. Or maybe it was just an indiscriminate figure he just chose at random.
Another disciple, Andrew says, ““There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Maybe Phillip was referring to the disciples own resources, but Andrew certainly referred to another’s resources: a boy who has two fish and give barley loaves. One commentator shares, “Man’s inability set the stage for a manifestation of Jesus’ compassion and power. The barley loaves recall the Prophet Elisha’s feeding of 100 men with 20 barley loaves (2 Kings 4:42–44). But here was One far greater than Elisha.”
Dr. Don Carson explains, “Philip’s response to Jesus’ request shows a natural but purely human sense of the occasion. He was intensely practical in his calculations. Andrew was little better in informing Jesus of the hopelessly inadequate supplies available. He also took a literalistic approach. But none of the disciples was to know what was in the mind of Jesus.”
It will be with this sense of inadequacy that Jesus will be more than adequate for the task at hand. He remains so even to this day. Trust to meet your need of salvation. Do so today.
Soli deo Gloria!