Thursday, January 17, 2013

Little is Enough

"Jesus took the loaves"
John 6:11

We're studying the Gospel of John in my weekly Bible study.  It's always so fascinating to study the gospels, because there's so much to them.  Each writer wrote from a different angle, and for a different audience, and even at a slightly different time in history.  But when you read them all, and put them all together, you get such a wonderful, informative picture of Jesus' birth, and the years of His public ministry.

We recently studied chapter 6 of John.  It's a packed chapter, including Jesus feeding the 5,000 and also the account of Jesus walking on the water.  (That's the same instance where Peter walked on the water, but that's not included in the book of John.)  Plus, chapter 6 includes Jesus' discourse on being the Bread of Life.

Yup.  A packed chapter.

But one of the details that struck me on this reading was Philip and Andrew's reactions to the lack of food right before the miracle of the loaves and fishes.  All the disciples are kinda standing around, as Jesus says to them, "well, what are we gonna do about this?"

Although I don't think Jesus was the type to say "gonna"...

He was challenging them.  Testing them.  

Philips's response seems to indicate that he was thinking small, in terms of a solution to the problem.  He answered Jesus with the estimation of how much money it would cost to buy bread.  If, in fact, there were anywhere nearby to buy that much bread.

But you can tell by his words that he's sort of throwing up his hands.  He had thought of one solution, and discarded it, even before he got it all the way out of his mouth. 

It's a little disappointing to me, because I like Philip.  But I know that the other mentions of him in Scripture back up the fact that he was an outstanding man of God.   So we'll just assume he was having a bad day.

But I'm even more disappointed in Andrew's response to the problem.  Andrew has a suggestion, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish."  I imagine his voice is hesitant and questioning.   Meek and a little insecure.   But remember, these men had been with Jesus in Cana when He turned water into wine.  They know He can do something with nothing.

But then Andrew finished his sentence:  "... but what is this, among so many?"  It's as if he is saying, "nevermind."

Have you ever watched children play hide and seek?  And you see the seeking child come so close to where the hiding child is, but then they turn around and go a different way?  And you think "ohhh.... they almost had it!"

That's how I feel about Andrew here.  He came so close to solving the problem.  But that solution was not those loaves and fishes ~ that solution was Jesus.  Andrew came so close to saying, "We have a little bit of food.  Here, Jesus!  Feed them!"

I think this mistake, this "near miss" of Andrew's, bothers me so much because it's something I seem to see more and more.  People who are willing to serve God, but don't think it will be enough.  People who have a gift or talent or offering, but belittle it as they give it.  Or belittle it and then don't give it. 

It reminds me of the story of the widow's mite, in Mark 12 and Luke 21.  She threw her small amount into the treasury, without any shame or deprecating words about how, surely, this was too little to be of any use...

We are all poor.  When we give to the King of kings, we are giving out of our poverty.  And we can ~ and should ~ expect Him to take our little, and make it much. 

If you're hungry, look to Him to be fed.  And if you have something to offer, offer it ~ and then watch and see what He does. 

~ "The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
and You give them their food in due season" ~
Psalm 145:15

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