Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”
One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.
John 6: 7-11 The Message
How do you look at your circumstances? Are you sometimes afraid to ask for something, because you know the answer will be no? Do you ever feel overwhelmed because the problem seems unsolvable? Do people ever discourage you by telling you there is nothing you can do? These are good questions to think about as we consider the actions of Jesus’ disciples in this passage.
To be fair, the situation was daunting. There were thousands of people who had gathered to hear Jesus, and they had been listening to him for a long time. Unfortunately, when they started becoming hungry, there were no markets around prepared to feed such a large crowd.
Philip responds by analyzing the situation. He pointed out how much it would cost to feed everyone - with money they did not have. While his assessment may be technically correct, his negativity does little to help. In fact, it may do more harm than good. Philip only sees one solution- buying their way out of the situation, which is essentially useless. Philip is a great example of “analysis paralysis”: he is thinking about the situation, but not really brainstorming every possibility. Hopelessness and powerlessness are the result.
Andrew, trying to be a bit more positive, points to the resources they do have: a boy with a lunch of some fish, and a few loaves of bread. At the very least, this is a little more helpful than Philip’s hopeless perspective. Yet even Andrew acknowledges that the few loaves and a couple of fish are “a drop in the bucket” compared to the enormity of their need.
What both disciples seem to forget is that they have one more resource: Jesus! There is no barrier Jesus cannot overcome. Our Lord can take the smallest lunch in the world, and transform into a meal for thousands.
When we are challenged in life, and especially when we feel overwhelmed by circumstances, it is good to remember that we always have Jesus. He can transform whatever we have to work with, into something more than we could ever possibly imagine.
That is the most amazing part of this story. Not only did there end up being enough for every to eat their fill, but they even had leftovers! The presence of leftovers proves that God’s ability to meet our need surpasses even our greatest expectations.
When you have Jesus, you always have more than enough!
Lord of every blessing,
When I am challenged and overwhelmed by situations in my life, remind me that You are the God who overcomes. As You fed thousands with a few loaves and a couple of fish, so take my meager resources and multiply them, so that I might meet the challenges I face. Thank you for Your provision, Your miracles, and Your love. I pray this prayer in the name of Your son, the miracle-worker Jesus Christ. Amen.