After teaching the people for several hours and as the sun was beginning to set, the disciples came to Jesus. They said it was already getting late. They wanted Jesus to send the people away so they could go to the surrounding countryside and local villages and buy themselves something to eat.
Again, Jesus had other plans. He knowingly said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And He tested Philip by asking him where they should buy bread for these people to eat. And so Philip properly assessed the situation from a financial point of view. He told Jesus that it would take more than eight months’ worth of wages to purchase only a bite for each person there.
And then Philip asked, “Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” Then Jesus told them to go and see how many loaves they could find. And it was Andrew who spoke up probably for a young boy who had come forward and offered up all he had. What he had was five loaves of barley bread and two small fish.
Now there were two kinds of grain used to make bread – wheat and barley. Wheat was expensive. And because most people were poor, they ate small round loaves of coarse barley bread. Which tells us that this young boy didn’t have much.
But he gave all he had.
So the disciples’ first response was to send the crowd away. Jesus wouldn’t have anything to do with that. Second, Philip assessed the situation from a financial standpoint, suggesting that the situation was hopeless since there were insufficient funds.
Andrew’s solution was equally impossible, if not seemingly ludicrous. He suggested that the single serving of the lunch, offered by a small poor boy, would feed the famished crowd of more than 5,000 men. (Women and children were not included in that count, thus increasing the number to more like 7,000 or more.)
What happened to these 12 men who had experienced God’s miraculous power and provision time and time again? Had they developed soul amnesia or spiritual Alzheimers?
Have you ever found yourself trying to solve a situation like that? First dismissing or trying to hide or sending away the troubling thoughts or people? Usually this is described as denial.
Or maybe you find yourself relying on your finances or material wealth. Any situation that seems impossible with human resources simply becomes a great opportunity for God.
After the disciples did everything they could by gathering the available food and organizing the people into groups as Jesus instructed, He took the loaves in His hands. He gave thanks to the Father and then had the disciples distribute the food to all who were seated.
And the scripture says that they ate as much as they wanted and then He did the same thing with the fish. After everyone had had enough to eat, Jesus instructed the disciples to, “Gather the pieces that were left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
This reveals to us that there was another solution, a fourth one. And so this lesson is for His disciples and for us.
Whenever a need arises, turn what you have over to Jesus and let Him do the rest.
Begin with what you have, but give it all to Him. The miracle took place in the hands of the Savior, not in the hands of the disciples.
Jesus makes sufficient whatever you place in His hands.
What or who do you need to place in the hands of the Savior?
Is it your job, your finances, your current living situation? Maybe it’s your husband, you child, your infertility, your aging ailing parents, or the death of a loved one? Maybe it’s your anger, your jealousy, your fear of rejection, your addiction?
Do you let seemingly impossible situations keep you from trusting Jesus? From taking Him at His word to provide all that you need?
What need of others have you refused to try and meet because you know that you and your resources are inadequate? What resource have you overlooked because it seems so small?
Verse 13 reminds us, “So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.”
Will you in faith bring it to Jesus so that He can multiply it and make it more than enough?