“Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.”John 6:10-11
John 6:1-14 is a familiar passage for many of us with several opportunities for us to identify with the characters. In this scene, we see Jesus, his disciples, and a large crowd of people. I don’t know about you, but I tend to identify more with the hungry crowd! It is interesting to read these verses and put ourselves in the place of different characters.
In John 6:5, Jesus asks his disciple Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” Clearly, Jesus knew the answer, but He wanted to hear Philip’s response. Suppose you were Philip or one of the other disciples standing with him. How would you respond to Jesus’ question? Would you be overwhelmed at the size of the crowd and the idea of offering enough food to feed them? Would you have passed this test?
Or imagine being the disciple Andrew. He found the boy with the brown bag lunch of fish sandwiches. Or did the boy find Andrew? In the middle of a huge crowd of five thousand men—not to mention the women and children with them—somehow, Andrew finds this boy with his small lunch. Would you have thought to bring that meager meal to Jesus?
This story reminds me of another familiar story found in Exodus 4:1-5. God called Moses to deliver the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt and asked Moses a specific question, too.
“Then Moses said, ‘What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, “The LORD has not appeared to you.”’ The LORD said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ And he said, ‘A staff.’ Then He said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses fled from it. But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail’—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.’”
“What is that in your hand?” It’s such a great question. It’s so in the moment.
“Oh, this…it’s my staff. Every serious shepherd has staff.” When Moses made his ordinary shepherd staff available to God, it changed the situation. Not unlike what Jesus did with this little boy and his brown bag lunch.
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “When things get into Christ’s hands, they are the very focus of miracles.” We must be willing to be aware of what’s going on around us, just like Andrew, and surrender even the smallest of offerings to Jesus. It’s His job to multiply. It’s our job to give everything—even what we don’t deem enough—to Jesus. When we put our brown bag lunch in Jesus’ hands, He may cause our picnic lunch to go viral.