Jesus soon saw a great crowd of people climbing the hill, looking for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Philip, where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “It would take a small fortune to feed them!” Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and to fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
Saint Matthew, Walnut Creek
Nothing tests one’s faith like a large task and meager resources. What can I do in the face of homelessness, poverty, unemployment and despair? Focus on the problem and it is difficult to have faith. Focus on Jesus, and we can discover that with God “all things are possible.”
Only John’s Gospel tells us that the source of the five loaves and two fish was a boy’s sack lunch. At least he had come prepared where most of the adults hadn’t!
Jesus wanted to give Philip a chance to exercise his faith. Hadn’t he seen Jesus do marvelous things? So many opportunities pass us by because we see only problems where Jesus sees potential.
Andrew takes a step in the right direction. “I’ve got a kid here with his sack lunch…but that’s not going to go too far.” He started to have faith, but then talked himself out of it.
Evidently the boy was willing to give up his lunch. In the other three Gospels the disciples come to Jesus with the contents of this lunch and say, “Here’s all we’ve been able to round up.”
A small offering, in this case, a wise and forward thinking young boy’s lunch, was enough to feed 5,000 (plus the women and children…10,000?) in Jesus’ hands. Let’s never underestimate how God can take our offerings, no matter how small they may seem in the larger scheme of things, and use them for his mighty kingdom purposes.
Lord Jesus, use my life, my resources, my gifts and deficiencies to your glory and for your kingdom purposes. Amen.
Dialog discuss: While God’s care for the poor and oppressed may be a new discovery for some, others have known it to be at the heart of gospel ministry for a very long time. There will come a time when justice looses its sexy veneer. We are, after all, a latest and greatest kind of people and another fad will undoubtedly come along to fill conference exhibits and book tables. That is, of course, unless we recall what urban Christians have always known: the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes a difference in our lives today, and the needs of today are great indeed. David Swanson