Growing up in church, one story was pretty much a 'staple' in Sunday school teachings:
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.
I have probably read and heard this story a hundred times. I've colored pictures of it. I've cut out paper shaped like fish and loaves. I've taught about it. I've heard sermons preached on it. And yet, there is still mystery about this amazing event. In fact, I think the older I get, the more mystery there is. When you really study the scriptures and try to imagine the reality of the story, it's kinda hard to wrap your mind around the details.
Let's get into it, shall we?
The story of Jesus feeding the five thousand is found in all four gospels (Matthew 14, Mark 6 and Luke 9) but for this blog I'm going to use the one from John 6:1-15. Why? Because this is the only book that actually tells us where the fish and loaves came from.
"...Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee and a great crowd of people followed him..."
That crowd wasn't just a couple hundred people. It is estimated that there were 5,000 men, plus women and children, bringing the total to somewhere around 20,000+ people. They'd all heard about Jesus and were following him. Some probably believed he was the Messiah. Some were probably just curious, and some were out-and-out doubters. But there they all were, way out in the country.
Now, in the crowd was a boy. I'm going to imagine he was about 9 or 10 years old. I can picture my own boys at that age. Rambunctious. Happy. Adventurous. I bet the boy in our story was having a blast running around with his friends that day. His parents were probably in the crowd of onlookers, but he was too busy to really pay attention to what this guy Jesus was saying. In fact, he was so busy having a good time he forgot to eat his breakfast when everyone else ate theirs.
By afternoon, our boy starts to get curious about Jesus. He's heard his parents talking about the miracles that Jesus has done and he'd like to see one. So he inches closer to where Jesus is sitting with his disciples. And he overhears this conversation:
"Send the crowd away so they can go find food and lodging..." [the disciples said to Jesus.]
"Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" [Jesus asked Phillip.] He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
"Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" [Phillip replied.]
"You give them something to eat," [Jesus tells the disciples.]
At this point the disciples turn to each other with, "What in the world are we gonna do now!?" looks on their faces. They probably had a couple bucks between them. How could they possibly find enough food to feed everyone?
The boy tugs on Andrew's cloak, sneaking a peak at Jesus. "I have some fish and bread you can have."
I can almost imagine Jesus winking at the boy and the boy smiling broadly.
"Have the people sit down," [Jesus said.]
Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (Luke 9:16-17)
Amazing! Twenty-thousand-plus people ate their fill with leftovers!
Don't you know that boy's life changed that day! He had a front-row seat to one of the most awesome, miraculous events to ever take place. But what is really cool is that out of a crowd of 20,000+ people, God saw that kid and said, "I'm going to use him for My glory, for My purpose." John 6:6 tells us that Jesus already knew how he was going to feed the crowd. He already knew there was a boy there with five loaves and two fish.
God sees you in the crowd. Me too. And He has wonderful plans already in place for our lives. Plans that will bring Him glory. Plans with purpose. But unless we are willing to give everything we have to Jesus--like the boy in the story--God can't use us. What if the boy had walked away instead of giving his lunch to Jesus? What if he'd decided to eat it himself and not share it? Are you holding on to things that you need to give to Him? Money? Dreams? Relationships? Your self??
Five loaves, two fish and one boy. And two thousand years later we're still talking about him. Pretty cool!
This week's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, France, Russia, China, Singapore, Germany, Israel, Malaysia