“… Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” 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.” John 6:8-10 (NASB)
Today’s Bible story reminds me of a time when I found myself the centre of attention in our village hall where I spoke briefly. Initially I was ignored as business carried on, after all I was only a youth. Then a man of much renown stood and praised my ideas for youthwork, suddenly I was the centre of attention. I can only imagine that the young boy with the loaves and fish felt as I did that day in the village hall, standing ten feet tall! God can do such things in our lives, bringing us to the forefront at a time of His choosing not for our glory but for His purpose.
The loaves were not anything like supermarket produce, they resembled small pittas made of barley which was the grain of the poor. The fish were also small, likely to have been sardines. Many commentators suggest that these were brought by the lad to sell, which may be true since he appeared to be alone. The loaves and fish in the story have been interpreted symbolically in many ways over the centuries. I personally like the Jewish idea that the five loaves represent the five books of the Torah and the fish represent the banquet of the Messiah in His Kingdom.
Andrew brings the boy to Jesus’s attention, a literal interpretation tells us that Andrew emphasises the diminutive size of the boy and his food. One can only imagine the indignation of the boy, “who you calling little?” he may have thought. Although there is no evidence in the scripture as to how this boy reacted or felt, it must have been an exciting experience. Here he was before the famous Rabbi from Nazareth that he had heard much about, and true enough his heart did beat quicker in front of Him. Before his very eyes the bread and fish he had held a few moments earlier now filled many baskets, feeding thousands of people. In my imagination I can see Jesus smiling at the stunned boy as the food is shared out.
Dear reader, be encouraged today. Your Father God can use you to bless others, regardless of your age, talents or place in society. Just like the boy in today’s story, Jesus can take your small gift and do great things with it. Surrender to Him what you have, and watch Him do great things with it.