the nudge | John 6.5-6
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. John 6.5-6 | ESV
As Jesus was enjoying some “mountain top” time with his friends, he looked up and carefully studied the horizon then filling with increasing numbers of people. He turns and nudges Philip, “They’re going to be hungry. Where do you suppose out in this deserted place we can buy enough food to feed them all?” Ahhh, but Jesus was just testing the waters of Philip’s faith and imagination; Jesus knew exactly what he was going to do. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Two things strike me here as this story unfolds.
First, Jesus was out there for some alone time with his friends, but the “great crowd” finds him nonetheless.
Life will always crowd us, needs surround us, pursue us, nag us, badger us. Always. The trick is knowing when we need to go to more strenuous, creative lengths in disengaging ourselves, when to hit an indefinite “snooze” button on that which would intrude on our time and space, and when we need to lean into the moment and embrace the interruption. Here is wisdom.
I can hear the disciples wincing, whining at the massive, looming interruption. And Jesus doesn’t help with his question as he leans into the interruption full tilt. “Where can we go to buy food for all these people?”
And that’s the second element of the story that strikes me.
Jesus doesn’t just lay out the plan like an offensive or defensive coordinator on a football field, giving them the play to execute. He asks them, first. Specifically, he asks Philip.
Maybe because he was the most hungry of his friends in that circle – in more ways than one. Outside of Peter and John himself, Philip makes more appearances than any of the other disciples. In the beginning, Jesus found Philip and then Philip found Nathanael; near the end outsider Greeks found Philip because they were looking for Jesus; and, ultimately, Philip seemed to hunger most deeply for the Father.
So Jesus nudges him, prods, pokes and pricks him: “What do you think we should do?”
He wasn’t looking for a Sunday School answer. It wasn’t a trap or a trick. He was testing the waters of his faith-imagination.
So often we petition God mightily for a revelation of what he wants, what he’s doing – “Just tell us what we should do, Lord, which way we should go, how we should handle this” as we then stare into the void of his awaiting question to us as he nudges and asks, “So. Where are we going to buy enough bread for this crowd of needs?”
How most recently have you felt your own faith and imagination nudged, prodded, challenged? How did you respond to the nudge?
Lord, sometimes I just want you to tell me plain what it is you expect of me, what I need to do, etc. etc. Let me be more receptive to your subtle (and not so subtle) nudgings of my faith and imagination as you seek to engage me in becoming the answer to questions I’m not even thinking of asking. Amen.