“Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ ” (John 6:5).

Ready to brush up on your math skills? Try this problem: Jared is making a tablecloth for his mother for a circular table three feet in diameter. The finished tablecloth needs to hang down 5 inches over  the edge of the table all the way around. To finish the edge of the table- cloth, Jared will fold under and sew down 1 inch of the material all around the edge. Jared is going to use a single piece of rectangular fabric that is 60 inches wide. What is the shortest length of fabric, in inches, Jared could use to make the tablecloth without putting any separate pieces of fabric together? A. 15; B. 24; C. 30; D. 42; or E. 48.*

That is the type of difficult question you’ll find on the American College Testing (ACT) standardized test in the math section. Over 1.6 million high school students take the ACT each year for admission to colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The math section includes sixty questions and students are given sixty minutes to answer them.

When Jesus asked Philip how they might feed a crowd of over 5,000 people, the disciple began calculating in his mind how much food they would need. Note the purpose of Christ’s question: “But this He said to test him” (John 6:6). Was this a mathematics problem for which Philip needed a calculator to figure out? No, for Jesus was testing Philip’s faith, not his ability to figure numbers.

Philip’s gloomy response reveals his lack of trust in God’s ability to pro- vide. “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little” (verse 7). One denarius was the common labourer’s wage for one day. Even two hundred days’ wages would barely provide everyone with a simple meal.

Then Jesus showed Philip that God’s math focuses not on division but on multiplication.
*The correct answer is E.

Heavenly Father, help me to exercise greater faith in Your infinite power to provide for all I need.

For Further Study: John 6:1–14; Numbers 11; Philippians 4:19



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