It's a story I've heard time and time again throughout my early years of Sunday school, Pioneer clubs, summer camp and vacation bible school - The story of Jesus feeding the 5000.
This Sunday, I am taking a 2nd attempt at telling this same story in kids church. However, I think the Lord had a divine purpose in the week delay for my sake. All week I've been reflecting on the story - The amazing miracle Jesus did in providing for the needs of the people, and the promise of His faithfulness to us in our lives. But above the lesson of provision, I feel like I keep coming back to the part about the little boy's lunch.
I am beginning to realize the significance in that simple action. The choice to give up something for the good of others.
5 loaves and 2 fish. Just enough. Just enough to satisfy his hunger while he was away for the day. Or, just enough for Jesus to multiply into a meal that would nurture thousands of hungry families.
I've taken a step back as I've thought about this boy's choice, and realized that he had options. There he was passing through the crowds as Jesus was giving His teaching, while the disciples were looking for food. He had a decision to make. Keep it what was his, or give it away.
It wasn't like he had much of food to offer. Pretty insignificant actually, when compared to the amount of people present that day. After all, a meal made for a small boy isn't sufficient for such a great crowd. I don't think he would have caused too much of a problem if he simply kept the lunch for himself. And to justify it further, it was food from his family and it was given to HIM and no one else. He 'deserved' it.
There was a second option as well... One that I tend to lean towards:
He didn't have to give it all.
There was no one else in that crowd who was aware of what was inside his small basket. Only he knew. So the fact is, he could have chosen to only give a portion of his food to the disciples and keep the rest for himself. No one would have to know that he was being greedy or selfish. That way he would still be doing the 'right' thing, and yet he would also benefit from the meal that he believed he deserved.
And yet he had the faith to give everything. He doesn't hold anything back.
It makes you wonder what he was thinking when he gave his food basket to the disciples. Something deep inside him must have had a trust that Jesus could do something greater. Something beyond the message that he was teaching, that compelled this boy to give all he had. Whatever it was, he must have felt a connection, a magnetism to the words of Jesus, and through that there was a sense of abandonment to earthly possessions. An urgence for him to give up what he had in faith.
Wow. What a powerful message. A statement about sacrifice for others. Jesus beckons us to give what we've got, but He doesn't want just a part of it. He wants the whole thing.
I feel like I need to identify with this little boy's decision. Except my choice comes moment by moment, and it's not with a carry-on lunch, it's with things like time or money or the gifts that God has given me.
It's in moments of need from the people around me that I have to make a decision. Will I choose to give? But even more importantly, will I give it all? Will I lay aside my selfish ambitions and offer up my 'stuff' to Jesus? How much is enough? Matthew 16:24 says ~
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it."
The first part of this verse is hard for me to swallow. Turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. This type of living is so counter-cultural. It's the exact opposite of how we as humans think we should live, because there is a cost. And when we think we're entitled to what we have gained, the cost becomes even greater.
We need to be reminded that in order for there to be a benefit, there has to be a cost.
Luckily, the Jesus doesn't stop there. He finishes with promise. A promise of life in the midst of surrender. This is a reward that far outweighs any comfort or peace we could find on our own. Life as it was intended by our Creator.
But what about the insignificant stuff? What if it's so small or such a long shot that it's not even worth giving? Like the lunch. So miniscule when compared with the need. And yet the Bible reminds us of how Jesus took it, used it, and blessed so many people through it (including the boy) with 12 baskets to spare. Abundant provision.
I've been challenged by this story of the little lunch because I wonder if my faith is that strong. Do I have the confidence to give all of everything, with the trust that Jesus will take my offering and use it?
My mind and flesh tell me otherwise, but my heart knows the truth. The truth that just like the boy who gave 5 loaves and 2 fish, Jesus took it and blessed so many people than he ever could have. Not to give glory to him, but to give glory to God.
It's a constant choice of letting go and surrendering ourselves to Jesus, and it's not easy. But it's my hope that I can be inspired by the message of this little lunch and what can happen when I offer my everything to Him.