Philosopher vs. Priest: Being Tested

Quick note: Here is this week’s Philosopher vs. Priest entry. I’m in the process of moving and haven’t had internet access for the past few days, except from my cell phone. I should be connected again by this Thursday and updating regularly once again. Sorry for the delay in posting!

bread image by


This week’s reading can be found here. In the reading, Jesus asked Philip where they could buy enough food to feed everyone as a test. What is the significance of this test? Do you think we still face similar tests today?


The idea of Jesus testing us is not one with I am particularly
comfortable.  Some scripture scholars speculate that the clause, “This
he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.” is added
to the scriptures following Jesus question to Philip, “How are we to
buy bread, so that these people may eat?” because the early Christian
community would not have been comfortable with Jesus not being in
complete control.  These scripture scholars speculate that the
narrator added that Jesus asked this question only as a test because
Jesus would appear less than divine if he poses to his disciples a
question to which he did not know the answer.  I mention this
explanation because I find it interesting.  However, even though I’m
not comfortable with the idea of Jesus testing us, I’m even less
comfortable with the idea that we should discredit scripture because
of a speculation about why a particular line finds its way into Sacred
scripture.  So that leaves me to answer the question, why would Jesus
test Philip and does he continue to test us?

Prior to answer this question of Jesus testing Philip, I’d like to
make a distinction about testing in general.  I think for the most
part we tend to think of a test as a way for a teacher to evaluate the
pupil.  In this way, I do not think Jesus tests us.  However, a test
can also be given not for the sake of the teacher to evaluate the
pupil but for the pupil to evaluate himself.  In this way, I think we
continue to be “tested.”  My personal opinion is that events and
circumstances in our lives may test us in that they help illuminate
areas of our life where our faith is lacking.  We are tested in that
we are shown how we measure up but the tests are for self-illumination
and not Jesus’s way of grading us as teacher might test a student
simply to see where the student stands.


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