There is a boy… with loaves and fish…

Wine, loaves of bread and fresh fish in an old basket

John 6:1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

What got my attention this morning was the fact that the loaves and fish which were multiplied belonged to… a boy (v.9). What would you have done if they asked for your food – so 5,000 people could be fed? Would you have done what the boy did? I’m not sure I would have. I probably would have thought it a pointless gesture. No thanks, find another sucker. But apparently this is not what the boy did. Reminds me of Matthew 19:14,

 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

Like others of you, I grew up in a home with minimal financial resources. We were always short of perceived need, scraping by. I’m quite sure, for at least a few of my childhood years, we lived below the poverty line. I can remember thinking how it was going to be different when I grew up. And for the most part it has been. When I was in seminary, and my wife Jana and I had two small children, resources were tight, but other than that the Lord has been very good to us.

And one of the most important lessons I’ve had to learn over the years, having grown up in a mindset of scarcity, it so live out of a mindset of abundance instead. There is always that impulse to hold tight (to money, time, whatever) instead of giving it away. A voice says in my head “What if you need this tomorrow? What if there’s not enough, then what are you going to do? Don’t just think of yourself, but think of your family. What about them?” You get the idea. You may know that voice as well.

So this morning I’m challenged by the boy in our passage. Lord children are wonderful, in part because they don’t over-think things. Give me a heart like this boy who trusted you with all he had. And you didn’t let him down. Teach me again and again to live in abundance instead of scarcity. Amen.

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