‘LITTLE’ is ‘MUCH’ when GOD is in CHARGE! Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little." One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." (John 6:5-10)
The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand took place across the Sea of Galilee (or, the Sea of Tiberias), and this is the only miracle (other than Jesus’ resurrection) that is recorded in all four Gospels!
To perform this miracle, Jesus went up on a mountain (v. 3), and from His high vantage point He observed a big crowd approaching Him. He was not annoyed to see the big crowd, thinking they would disturb His rest or His time with the disciples, but His first thought was to provide something for them to eat. And so He turned to Philip and asked where bread could be purchased to feed the multitude. When Jesus asked a question, it was never for the purpose of adding to His own knowledge, but to teach others through that inquiry. Jesus knew the answer and what He would do, but was now going to teach Philip a very valuable lesson and test his faith.
The apostle James tells us to “count it all joy when we fall into various trials knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience so that we will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (see James 1:2-4). What Jesus did was remarkable in every way! He miraculously provided food for at least five thousand people with twelve baskets full of leftovers. All the people were filled and each of His twelve disciples had one basket of food to take home. The overall result of the miracle was to increase the faith of the people that Jesus was the Messiah - the true Bread of Life (John 6:32–58).
When God tells us to do something, remember that He has already planned the resources we need to accomplish the task. In this story, we see that Jesus was actually testing the faith of His disciples (v. 6). Jesus wanted His disciples to be involved in caring for the needs of the people at large, and to be hands-on in working with Him and for Him. When God asks us to get involved in any particular task, understand that He already knows how He will accomplish His work through us. What we need is faith and vision – the ability to see that God wants us to be His instruments - and then trust that He will supply what we need - in His time!
Another point to note is that God uses small insignificant things to accomplish great needs that will eventually result in His glory. When Andrew introduced the boy’s lunch to Jesus, he remarked that these five loaves and two fish were nothing to satisfy the hunger of the great crowd (v. 9). He recognized that the resources were so little to meet the need of so many! But Jesus made these meager resources into a huge blessing afterwards.
God doesn't expect our duty to be measured by our ability, and our ability is not measured by the sum-total of our resources. All we need in order to minister to others is found in God who can use for His glory whatever we give Him. When we face a seemingly unsolvable problem, let us give all that we have to Jesus, and let Him tell us what to do next in order to accomplish His will. God has a special way of using our routine faithfulness in small things to accomplish great things for His glory!