Why Would Jesus Ask a Stupid Question?

At the risk of sounding irreverent, why in the world would Jesus ask a stupid question? 

Here’s the scene: Jesus and his disciples are hanging out on a mountainside. He gazes off into the distance, and what to his wondering eyes should appear but a multitude of people, far as the eye can see, headed his way. They’re bringing their friends, and they’re as hungry as teenage boys after a football game. 

That’s when Jesus asks the question: "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" 

Philip’s the first one to speak. “Are you crazy? (my paraphrase) It would cost $15,000 to buy matzo for that crowd.” 

Then Peter (God bless him) speaks up, “Lord, there’s a boy with a Captain D’s kids meal. For all the good it does us.” 

You know the rest of the story. Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish and does a miracle. Five thousand men plus women and children eat until they’re full. 

Buried in this account and immediately following Jesus’ “stupid question,” “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat,” John records a most interesting statement: 

“But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.” 

He himself knew what He would do. 

Jesus knew he was going to feed the multitude. He'd planned it from the beginning of time. He knew he was going to take a tiny boy’s tiny lunch and multiply it so far that the decimal didn’t even remember which column it started in. 

So if he already knew what he was going to do, why did he ask the question? 

To give his disciples a chance to believe. 

He asked Andrew, “Where can we buy enough bread for all these people?” 

Andrew looked at his circumstances and the insurmountable odds and said, “There is no way we’re feeding this crowd.” 

Peter looked a little higher and considered his resources. “We’re got a little Lord, but it’s nowhere near enough.” 

Neither of them stated the obvious: “Lord, why don’t you feed them? After all, you are the Christ.” 

Only Jesus saw the potential for a miracle. 

“Have the people sit down,” he said. “At least act like you believe in miracles, because I’m about to do one.” 

I wonder how many times God allows impossible circumstances and overwhelming odds into our lives to give us a chance to believe? 

I wonder what might happen if, the next time an impossible situation comes our way, instead of counting the people on the hillside and the lunch in our baskets, we turn our eyes to the Savior and say, “Lord, only you have the power to change this situation. I trust you.” 

Oh, what miracles we might see. 

I’m thankful that Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes despite the disciples’ lack of faith. But how much more might their faith have grown if, instead of counting heads and hedging bets, they’d asked God for a miracle? 

I want to be the disciple that answers a stupid question with a smart answer. Don’t you? 

What impossible situation are you facing right now? I challenge you—trust God for a miracle. Your disbelief might be the only thing standing in the way.

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  1. Lori, thank you for this powerful post. I'm longing to see God do the miraculous in my life (in more than one area). Trust is huge! I say I believe but is that true? Frequently, I find myself praying, "Lord, I believe; forgive my unbelief"! Getting free from my disbelief would be huge!


    1. Kim, I'm comforted by the knowledge that Christ sees WHO I have my faith in, not necessarily how much faith I have. I'm very thankful he honors "mustard seed faith."