Some human interest stories are unforgettable. But when you add the miraculous, the story becomes pregnant with spiritual truth.
This story must have burned deep into the memory of Jesus’ disciples because it’s covered in all four Gospels. It’s a story about Jesus and his disciples, an arena-sized crowd and a boy 15 kilometers from home with a little lunch in his pockets.
I love this story. It begins with a mega-sized problem that turns into a stunning success story.
It’s a story about whenever thing looks hopeless, with Christ on the scene, they’re not!
It’s a story about what you have, not what you don’t have.
It’s a story about giving and serving, not keeping and hoarding.
It’s a story about Christ’s power and the test of faith, not human ability.
It’s a story about God’s extravagant generosity is a response to sacrificial obedience.
You likely know how this incredible story unfolds.
Jesus is ministering to a crowd of thousands. It’s getting late. Dusk falls. There are no fast-food joints around the corner. The disciples are starting to wring their hands. “Send them away to buy food.” Jesus shocks them, “They don’t need to go away. You give them something. How many loaves do you have?” (Jesus knows…he’s in test mode with his disciples.)
Andrew speaks up, “Here’s a kid with 5 loaves and 2 small fish. But how far will that go.”He sees the enormity of the problem…the impossibility of the task.
Then Jesus speaks those life-changing words, “Bring them here to me.” And the little boy gave the little he had. And Jesus lifted the meagre offering to heaven, sanctified it with prayer and began creating bread and fish like no one had dreamed possible.
Pause and reflect on this story. Here’s my takeaway.
With Christ on the scene, it’s never about the problems…it’s always about the possibilities.
The same Christ who sanctified the loaves and fish on the hillside has taken up residence in you and me by his Spirit. Nothing was impossible for him then. Nothing is impossible for him now!
And that’s why we should never underestimate the value of what we can bring to God. He is in the business of taking the weak, the small, the insignificant and turning it into something that none of us could have ever dreamed of. “Bring it here to me,” he says. “I just want to get my hands on it!”
Who would have ever dreamed that when four businessmen befriended a homeless teen-ager in a Calgary plus 15 walkway, and bought him a meal, launching him in the direction of Christ, that one day that teenager, Pat Nixon, would one day go on to found one of North America’s greatest street ministries.
Five loaves and two fish…so insignificant. A small lunch for a homeless teenager in a Plus 15. So insignificant. But if we don’t bring what we have to Jesus, nothing happens. You see, one of the insights from this story is that God wants partners. In fact, he has ordained that his work will only go forward when people step forward! It’s called the Doctrine of Human Responsibility.
In my church, there is a small group of ladies with the gift of quilting. Now, what could be smaller in the eyes of the world than a simple quilt. But these ladies heard Jesus say, “Bring them here to me.” They said, “Yes.” And they brought their quilting gifts to him.
Now they make beautiful quilts that they give in Jesus’ name to people who are suffering from cancer and receiving chemotherapy. Their bodies are warmed, and so are their souls as they receive the gift of God’s love, and hearts are turning to him.
As we begin 2020, I wonder if God is scanning our Corpath membership list, and he is asking, “What do these Corpath members have that I need to get my hands on? When I do, amazing things will happen for God’s glory, for my Kingdom, and for their faith.”
I suspect that one of the reasons why many Christians drag themselves through life and don’t see God do anything of substance in them and through them is because Jesus is not much more than a paper Saviour for them. On paper, in the Bible, he died and rose again. But their eyes of faith are closed to the greatest reality of all, that the living, all-powerful Christ in no longer on some Galilean hillside in some Bible story.
He is here, now. Active and alive. Resident in his people. Wanting to occupy our minds and hearts and lives so that like Paul we too can say,
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
God is still using lunches!