“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”
This miracle Jesus performed may be one of his most known. It’s a great miracle, a huge reminder to us of the power that God gave to Jesus. While it is an incredible story of Christ’s power and divinity, it’s also a great opportunity for us to learn a lesson for ourselves.
Rather than taking a look at the miracle in itself, let’s examine the boy. He didn’t have much, only five small barley loaves and two small fish. It’s safe to say he probably had that for his family to eat. It’s possible that the food he had in his hands was all his family would have to eat for the day. We have to assume a few things that aren’t mentioned in the text, but I imagine that the boy heard Jesus talking about feeding the crowd. He saw what he had in his own hands and, undeterred by the sheer insufficiency of his gift, he offered it anyway. There was no way that those few loaves and fish would feed so many people. Surely he didn’t think so. But nonetheless, he gave what he had. Selflessly, he gave to Jesus all he had to eat. His generosity was multiplied miraculously by Jesus’ actions, but it all began with the gift from the boy. He gave what he had, even though it wasn’t much.
In today’s world there are many people with many needs. Whether those needs are physical, emotional, spiritual or mental, there are people who find themselves in need every day. As we reflect on your on our own lives, are we living in a generous way like the boy from the story? Do we give from our plenty only when it is convenient? Did the boy from the miracle have surplus food? No, on the contrary he gave to Jesus and the Disciples what little he had trusting that Jesus would provide. In a similar way, we ought to give to those around us even when it seems small, or even when it comes at personal cost. Don’t send someone away in need because there could be someone else who could fill their needs more abundantly, but instead give to them whatever you can offer. Even if it seems small, a kind word, a hug, the few dollars you have in your pocket, or even your time, give to others whatever you can and let Jesus do the multiplying.
Help me to give what I have when I see a need that I can help with. Even if there’s not much to offer, guide me with your Spirit to give of what I do have, to offer my small gift. Lord, I can never give or do as much on my own as you can do with me and my possessions. I pray that you will take my small gifts and multiply them. Make them into something much bigger than they first appear.
In Jesus’ Name,