(33) Then His disciples said to Him, 'Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?'
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Jesus calls the disciples to Himself, not because He needs answers about the food problem, but to test their faith. As a teacher tests his students, Christ periodically tested His disciples (John 6:6). They often fail these tests, and this one is no exception. None of us, however, can boast about the marks we receive in the area of faith.
The disciples express skepticism about feeding the crowd. Their store of food is low (Matthew 15:33). Even before Christ can ask, they say that "we" cannot provide the bread. They do not want to be asked to do it because they lack the means. Granted, we of ourselves have the means to do little for God, although we are to strive to do what we can. But when assessing our ability to serve, we must include God's power as the primary means to accomplish anything. The disciples do not do that.
In their view, finding that much food would be "impossible" in such a desolate place (Mark 8:4). We sometimes convince ourselves that God cannot work in a place because it is too hard a location. Truly, where faithlessness exists, not much of God's work will be done. Even so, harsh or limiting conditions cannot obstruct God's work if He orders us to work in a place. His power overcomes all difficulties.
To the disciples, the crowd of people is enormous (Matthew 15:33), much too large for them to feed. Even if they could provide some food, there would not be enough. Sometimes we let the size of the crowd devalue God and become an obstacle to our faith. At times, too, Christians go along with the majority, and in doing so, go against their consciences, damaging their faith and conviction. None of the disciples is willing to stand against the others in faith.
— Martin G. Collins
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