“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6:9
Great things are found in small places. The miracle of the feeding of the multitude does not start from nothing, but it does start from a very small place, in this case the hands of a child with a few small loaves and a couple of fish, that were also not very big.
The crowd was large. John does not say how large, but he does say it was great and feeding these would cost half a year’s wages. A few pieces of bread and a little fish were not nothing, but they were barely something. And this is life, for we are filled with our barely somethings. Our faith itself may be such a thing. In the tremendousness of life with all that it requires, we have little in the way to sustain us in day to day living and this is most true of belief. We cannot believe in the big things, the too good to be true things. In fact we cannot often bring ourselves to know that which is required for even a little happiness, let alone the abundant life. And besides abundance is not at issue here in this reading for the crowd did not even have sustenance.
It was late and the sun was going down all around and the people were hungry for very real food, even as they had been for very real faith, for there would be no other reason to find Him. And He had sustained their faith, but now their need was more physical in nature and even here, He had his concern for these.
He told the disciples to feed them. Of course they could not; there would be no reason to think their purse contained six months wages and the people had nothing themselves save for a few pieces of bread and a little fish. And if I were a little child with only enough to feed myself, would I want what I have wrenched from my hands to satisfy a crowd? How much faith this small one must have had! How much like a father and the Father, Jesus must have been to be given his small offering to feed the crowd! To give up what I have to create the great thing. Surly such a thing cannot be done.
But we know the story. We know it ends with a glutted crowd and baskets of food left over. Do we think on it though? And when we take the small morsel in our hands and sip a tiny drink of wine from that small cup do we think it is even sustenance?
If we are wise, if our lives are imbibed with faith, we know it is not just sustenance for in His presence what we eat and drink is abundance.
Do we think on it though? Do we know the thing? Here Jesus is telling us what must be our concern. It is the very real things of life. It is the faith that will allow us to give up what little we have that others may be clothed and fed. It is also showing our faith, as that child did, that others may too have faith and share the little they have. And we all have very little. But it is at least a little something from which a great thing may be born.
And the great thing is not what we often think. Seeing the miracle, the crowd wanted to make Jesus their king. He had to leave their presence and go to the high place. He was showing them what they too must do. What they needed was not an earthly monarch to provide for their every need and perhaps even deliver them from the hated Romans. What they needed was the high place of faith to let the small morsel pass from their hands into the hands of others. What they needed was the faith that would lead not to an earthly kingdom but a heavenly abundance. What they needed was to offer up what little they had to Jesus that He may offer up everything for everyone.
And he did do this. His small and gentle frame and his blood were given up on Calvary and today more than a billion touched the small morsel of bread and sipped from a tiny cup that makes Calvary real again and again. The heavenly food was not so much. It was a piece of bread and a small sip of wine. But it sustained all of these who tasted the good gift and it promised all of these abundance.
The multitude was fed today. It was fed from a simple gift that is both memorial and real presence. It was fed so that in those who were fed are led to a faith may feed others. And feed others until all the world is fed.
It was not so much…..the tiny loaves and fishes of the child or the morsel we held today in our hands, but it was and is enough and it was and it is more than enough for it is our sustenance and our abundance.