This summer, we will have weekly studies available for each of 12 weeks from May 13 through July 29. Each week, we’ll focus on one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. We’ll look at a short passage involving that disciples (actions, words, attitudes, etc.); we’ll have a short paragraph or two putting the passage in context; and we’ll have some discussion/reflection questions that can be contemplated alone or discussed in a group (a youth small group, friends, family, etc.). One of the main questions we’ll be asking is whether what we see from the disciple is “good” (something to be imitated) as we try to be disciples today — and the answers will not always be as easy as we think.
This week, we look at the disciple Philip.
READ John 6:1-7 (NIV below)
1Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
We first meet Philip in John 1:43-45, when Jesus calls him and then he immediately goes to find his friend Nathanael. There’s definitely a lesson to learn there in what should happen when we “find Jesus” — that we have this urge to share wonderful things with those we love.
This is the first of three times we hear Philip’s voice in the John’s gospel — Philip is only mentioned as one of the disciples, never actually heard from, in the other three gospels. Philip asks Jesus to “show us the Father” in John 14:8, failing to understand Jesus’ statement that He and the Father are one. But our focus for this lesson is on Philip in John 6:1-7.
Philip’s answer is incredulous, almost as if he thinks Jesus is being sarcastic. But it’s probably the kind of thing I would have said, because he’s just assessing the situation as he sees it: “There’s no way we can afford to even get one chicken nugget for everyone here.”
ANSWER these questions:
When has God worked in your life, or when have you seen God at work around you, through practical, real, “non-miraculous” means?
When have you seen God work through “miraculous” things you can’t explain?
When should we rely on our own “practical” decision-making and thinking? When should we pray for things that don’t seem practical or possible? How do we know the difference?
What are the intangible, complicated needs that people have that are too difficult for you to help fulfill? Pray for those people.
READ related devotional thoughts from Courtney Kleppinger here.