“It’s a set up” words that tend to be associated with a sudden burst of adrenalin pumping through the intricate vascular systems of the human body or cortisol, a stress hormone that influences the individual into a state of depression or agitation; dependent on the situation an individual finds themselves in at the moment those words appear in their thoughts. Set ups can be positive or they can be negative.
My mind is cast to the sixth chapter of the gospel of John where the scene opens up with Jesus on the move and a great multitude of people following fast on his heels because of the miracles they had seen him perform on them which were diseased; the imagery cast being one of a great physician like none other who left sickness and disease fleeing from his presence in the various regions he had been to.
The narrative continues as we find Jesus going up in the mountain and spending time with His disciples and noticing the great multitude that had followed him before asking his disciple Philip ‘Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”, the timing of the question being critical, it comes at a point when he is sitting with his disciples, all having a visual of the great company that had followed. A few weeks ago, my wife and I hosted guests at our home and as the guests were coming we assessed how many people were coming and started attempting to figure out how we would feed them with the resources we had at hand, an almost automatic response to such a situation. One can almost picture Philip responding in like manner of simply first turning around and considering how much resources they had and one need not imagine because Philip responds in verse 7 of the same chapter by stating that they only had a bread with them, two hundred penny worth, which in his estimation was nowhere near enough to even afford everyone a little bit each. An impossible situation or so it seemed.
Meeting Your Needs
Have you ever been faced with a situation where you have wondered or questioned what you will do, how the situation will and can be resolved? Often times, the bowels of life will throw up difficult situations and circumstances that are unexpected and at times expected; perhaps a financial crisis, a family crisis, a personal crisis and all other crisis we can think of; and in moments like that it is almost as though the question being asked is ‘How are we going to meet this need?’. What are we going to do about the cancer that is eating you alive; the child that has left the Lord; the marriage that is falling apart; the issues that seem to never go away in life? How?
Philip’s response offers an insight into our thought patterns; instinctively he looked at what he had and if it would solve the problem. How often this tends to be the case, we look for the solution to what we possess and our circumstances. Jesus’s question however had another purpose to it and a far significant lesson for us all. Verse 6 informs us that Jesus had asked Philip the question to prove him; for He [Jesus] himself already knew what he would do. In a nutshell, it was a set up! Jesus was setting Philip up to see that the situation was impossible in humanity’s calculation but what is impossible with men is possible with God.
As the rest of the account proceeds, Jesus went on to perform an incredible miracle in which He fed over 5000 people out of what seemed like nothing. The same account is told in the fourteenth chapter of the gospel of Matthew (verses 13-19) but afterward Jesus sent his disciples into a ship which would later run into trouble in the middle of the sea; but the same Jesus who had sent them into that ship would be the one who would come to the aid of that same vessel. Amidst the tossing and rocking that the ship went through, to the point where the desperate disciples felt all their hopes or survival vanish; Jesus came right on time; the point they saw their need, He was there on time.
The account continues with Peter asking and being commanded to come to Jesus, walking on the water but sinking when he looked around and noticed what was around him [the boisterous winds]. Again at this point of hopelessness where a desperate and helpless Peter had been reduced to crying out for help, Jesus immediately stretched forth His hand after Peter had cried ‘Lord, save me’. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that this same Jesus is never changing, when we cry out for help genuinely too, he will immediately stretch forth his hand.
The story ends with Jesus and Peter back in the ship and everyone on the ship worshipping Jesus and declaring ‘Of a truth thou art the Son of God’. The whole account, being sent onto the ship, Peter walking on water, Peter sinking and being pulled out was a set up to help open their eyes to know who God truly is.
My dear friends, the storms and trials of life are simply a ‘set up’ to give us the opportunity to see and to know who God truly is because to know God, that’s eternal life. Every disappointment or trial is an opportunity to see God’s character more clearly.
Treasure this thought –
When trouble comes upon us, how often we are like Peter! We look upon the waves, instead of keeping our eyes fixed upon the Saviour. Our footsteps slide, and the proud waters go over our souls. Jesus did not bid Peter come to Him that he should perish; He does not call us to follow Him, and then forsake us. “Fear not,” He says; “for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.” Isaiah 43:1-3. Desire of Ages 382.1