“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’ Another of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’” John 6:5-9 (NIV2011)
When you study the miracles of Jesus, it’s fascinating to me how He involves ordinary people and common everyday things in the miracles He performs. The feeding of the five thousand is a perfect example. As Jesus and His disciples stood surveying this massive crowd, Mark’s account of the story says the disciples suggested that Jesus should send the crowd away to neighboring villages to get some dinner. Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat.” (6:37)
I think Jesus was maybe saying to them, “Think again. Take a second look at this. What do we already have here?” And, this is when Andrew came forward and spoke about the little boy’s lunch. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will that go among so many?” Philip and Andrew were both convinced that their resources were far too small to meet the needs of so many. So, why did Jesus use the loaves and fish that day? Because God always starts with what we already have. Another reason is because Jesus wanted to involve His disciples and this little boy in the miracle! The same is true for us today! He wants us to participate in the supernatural event He is working. You see the same interaction when Jesus turned the water into wine and used the servants to fill the jars with water and take them to the Master of Ceremonies at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus told the men to roll away the stone and, then, remove the grave clothes from Lazarus when he rose from the dead! In the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus took what they already had, the loaves of bread and the fish, and gave it to the disciples to distribute to the masses of people.
I don’t know what the disciples must have thought as the food kept multiplying or what happened to that little boy after the miracle meal, but I have to think he was amazed as he watched his sack lunch feed so many thousands of people! I can’t imagine the disciples or that boy walking away from that experience the same. Miracles are transformational! Likewise, I don’t know what will happen to you in the days to come as you seek the miracle you need most. But, I think that, when God involves you in the miracle He is about to do, it will transform you in a powerful way. God wants you to be a part of the work He does. So, He starts with what we have. The small thing we have. The thing we overlook until He says, “Think again. What do you have for Me?” I think it’s His way of saying, “Are you with Me in this? Or are you on the sidelines watching like a bystander?”
The truth is that God can do miracles either way – with us or without us. But, by giving Him even the little thing we have – our hushed prayer, a crumb of faith, a simple act of love, we participate in the work He is doing in our lives and in the lives of others. We align ourselves with His supernatural power, and we have a part in the miracle itself.