A Lack Of Bread (and Fish)
After the healing on the Sabbath at the pool of Bethesda, and after Jesus’ amazing and elegant response to the hatred of the Pharisees, Jesus heads to the other side of the Sea of Galilee where he sits down with his disciples. And because of the miracles he was performing, a large crowd follows him.
So there they are, Jesus, his disciples, and this large crowd of around 5,000 men. (This miracle is usually called the feeding of the 5,000, but counting women and children, scholars say we should put it at around 10,000 total.) They’re in a remote area, no where near a market where food might be found. And it’s getting on toward the end of the day. And there’s this difficulty, this problem about food for the people. And Jesus asks a question (that turns out to be rhetorical) of Philip regarding this problem.
He says, “Where are we going to find food to feed all these people?”
And Philip answers the same way any atheist would answer. He says, “Several month’s wages wouldn’t be enough to provide each person with a snack.”
Then another one of Jesus’ disciples pipes up and says, “There’s a boy here who has five loaves of bread and a couple of fish, but what good does that do us?”
Jesus just says, “Have everyone sit down.”
So everybody sits down in the grass, there on the hillside. And Jesus takes the loaves and the fish, gives thanks, and then distributes the food out to the thousands of people seated there.
And he gives to each person as much as each person wants.
Then when they finish eating Jesus tells his disciples, “Pick up the leftovers so we leave nothing behind, so nothing is wasted.”
And when they do, they fill twelve baskets with fragments from the five loaves of bread and the two fish. (John 6:1-13)
No Bread, No Money, No Faith
It’s so interesting to me that Philip responded no differently than any unbeliever might respond. His mind immediately goes to money. But before I come down on him for it, I have to admit, that’s exactly what I can do. That’s what I see many of us do. Money is what we need to solve the difficulty. What we need is more money. More of it. If we have more, that will solve the difficulty.
More money: That’s the answer.
Then we see Andrew come up with the five loaves and two fish, and he says: What good will that do us?
So two of Jesus’ top guys, when tested (because this is a test by the way, see for yourself in John 6:6) completely disregard what the Son of the Creator can do, without money, and with a tiny amount of food.
What Jesus Does With A Little
In a manner of speaking I’ve experienced this in my own life. When I was at my healthiest, and was at my highest energy level, I focused mainly on my own personal success: in basketball, or tennis, or my career. But after I became much less capable, I focused on Jesus.
In fact it’s very possible that if today I had the physical capability I once had, you wouldn’t be reading these words right now. I’d be busy with other activities, activities where I had opportunity to use all that energy. (If you’re interested, you can read more about how Jesus touched me physically here: He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip)
The point is, in the same way Jesus took what little food they had, and fed the five thousand, Jesus takes what little strength I have, and uses it to distribute the bread of life (Jesus) to those who have an appetite for him online. This happens on a modest level, but it happens in a dramatically greater measure than it did when I had abundant energy.
You Can Learn Right Now What It Took Me Three Decades To Learn
What took me so long to learn, and what you can learn right now, is to focus on Christ before he decides to streamline your resources to make you more effective for him. I wonder sometimes what might have been if Jesus had been my focus from the beginning. How many years did I waste on mindless pursuits like hoops, or tennis, or road cycling, or running, or hang gliding, or video games. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of these, it’s just that I made them my ultimate. I put them ahead of Jesus. What fruit might have been born, who might I have had the privilege of sharing Jesus with, had I put Christ ahead of these things?
So if Jesus has blessed you with strength, or intelligence, or money, or resources of any kind, use those gifts for him. Study him, to fall in love with him, to the point where you live to do his will. You don’t have to wait as long as I did to learn this lesson. You can save yourself a lot of grief and start living this way now.
Go In The Strength You Have
And if you’re not blessed with abundant strength, or intelligence, or money, or resources of any kind, you don’t have to worry. You don’t have to worry if you don’t have much to offer. A tiny amount of food was enough. A tiny amount of strength, or health, or money, or time, or resource of any kind is enough. “Go in the strength you have…” our Lord said in Judges 6:14. (NIV) I have found that it’s so very important to focus on what you can do, and not worry about what you can’t do.
And it’s so very important to focus on Jesus.
To spend time with him.
To invest yourself in him.
Invest yourself in him and maybe he’ll use what little you have the way he used what little that boy had to offer, that day, on that hill, when he fed the five thousand.
References and Resources
Image via WorldFish – Creative Commons