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This morning, I was reading from the gospel of John, Chapter 6, the first 13 verses.
Here’s the passage:
After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “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, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
So, here’s my take on this passage.
Jesus was planning to sit down and spend a bit of time with his disciples. But things changed, in a large way. Not just unexpected company dropping by, but thousands of uninvited guests. But Jesus, always thinking of his disciples and what He wanted them to “get” about who He was, and about how he wanted them to have LIFE, took this as a golden opportunity to teach them a lesson they would never forget.
First, He let them see the depth of the problem. He asks Philip, “How are we going to feed these people?” And the disciples look at the magnitude of the problem, and come up with their answer:
“We got nuttin'”.
Seems like a reasonable answer to me, considering!
We learn in verses to come that there were 5000 MEN, so that doesn’t even count the women and children. So, if over 5000 showed up at YOUR door: how would YOU feed them?
But wanting to do something, sweet Andrew mentions that there *IS* this one little boy who has offered his lunch of five small barley loaves and two small fish, but of course he realizes the absurdity of this little bit being any help at all.
We *all* have circumstances, from time to time, that feel insurmountable to us. They’re the kinds of things that cause our knees to feel weak, and the stomach acid to rise in our throats, where we recognize our own complete INability to address these circumstances in any meaningful, lasting way. I don’t know what yours are right now, but I know you’ve got ’em. And if you don’t have them right now, the day will come when you will. Because that’s the way life rolls.
When those types of things happen, it’s a divine opportunity. It’s as if Jesus is lingering there, just a wee bit behind us, looking over our shoulder with us, at the big problem. And all Jesus asks is that we take the little bit that we ~do~ have in our hands, just that little bit, and offer it up to Him to be used, and blessed.
I’m struck from reading this passage by this thought: that if we are humble enough to realize our own inadequacy, but we know the One to go to, to ask for help, that Jesus can take “just our little bit”, and turn it into something of eternal worth and value.
So look at your circumstances. Don’t gloss over them. Honestly assess them. Admit the impossibility of them. Recognize your own inadequacy. Sometimes Jesus wants us to consider and admit just how inadequate we are, on our own, to address such an issue.
And then, if in full understanding of the fact that we really do “got nuttin'”, we offer just that little bit of nuttin’ to Him, He takes our willingness to bring what we have to Him, and blesses it beyond what we ever dream or imagine.
Jesus says in John 15:5 “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
When I’m praying, I like to add, “Apart from you, I don’t even want to try to do anything. I not only welcome your help – I’m desperate for your help. I want you, and you alone, to lead me, Good Shepherd. It’s only by your Spirit, and your power, that anything of true, good and lasting value will be accomplished. Only by your Spirit, and your power, will your Kingdom come, and your will be done.”
May He give you wisdom. May he give you insight. May He give you power, through His Holy Spirit, which, if you’ve been adopted into His family, lives inside of you. May He bless you with all these resources, as you offer up your little bit. And may He get the glory, for all that He does.