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Living Generously, Sharing Faithfully

The Lesson is in the Leftovers



by Jerry Russell, Washington Conference vice president for finance

The story of the boy with five loaves and two fishes is found in all four of the gospels, and all four accounts are very similar.

Jesus, motioning to the large crowd, tells his disciples in Matthew 14:16 to “get them something to eat.”  The disciples immediately try to fulfill His request with human resources - money, time, etc. - an impossible task given the size of the crowd and where they were. 

John 6:6 says Jesus was testing them, as He know what He was intending to do but wanted to see their faith.  Andrew, showing at least a little faith in what Jesus could do, saw a young boy with a meager lunch of five barley loaves and two fishes and asked the boy if he would give it to Jesus.  

The boy was likely poor given that barley loaves were the cheapest of all breads and a staple of the poor at that time.  I can just imagine what the boy was thinking, “There’s 10–15,000 people here, how is my little lunch going to have an impact with this crowd?”

But he gave it, small as it was, all he had, so that Jesus could use it as a teaching miracle to all assembled.

Like the young boy, God wants us to bring what we have, to Him. The quality, quantity, or value don’t matter to Him. The boy’s small lunch seemed insufficient, considering the size of the crowd, and the boy seemed insignificant among the multitude of people.

But what appeared to the boy, and all the onlookers there that day, to be insufficient and insignificant was made sufficient and significant when placed in the hands of Jesus.  In fact, John 6:13 tells us that there were 12 baskets leftover after the people had all been filled. 

The disciples are contrasted with the young boy who brought what he had.  The disciples certainly had more resources than the boy but knew they didn’t have enough, so they didn’t give anything at all.  The boy gave what little he had and it made all the difference.  If we offer nothing to God, He will have nothing to use, but He can take what little we have and multiply it for His Good. It’s not the amount of the gift, but into Whose Hands it is given.

The lesson is in the leftovers..…God gives in abundance.

What can you bring?