“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing those who were ill. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.7 Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’10 Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” NIV
Andrew’s response to this food shortage was, perhaps, a little better than Philip’s (7, 9). At least it had a speck of faith in it. But not a lot. He could not imagine what use so small a picnic lunch could be:
”Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (9). He repeats the word ‘SMALL’. It is underlined in our thinking by repetition.
We face the challenge of smallness in a world that is in love with the big, the bold and the brassy.
Our thinking is often similar:
”I’m such a small person – small in my own estimation – what great thing could I ever do?”
”My gifts seem so small and unspectacular, how could I be of help?”
”My financial contribution to this project is trivial compared to the sums certain people can donate? Does it really count for anything?”
”Our church is so small. We’re not a mega-church. We don’t have all the bells and whistles, the technological wizardry possessed by the church down the road. What’s the point of our existence? Do we have any meaningful role to play?”
The problem is, we tend to equate the word ‘small’ with another word – ‘insignificant’. At least, many of us do. But God doesn’t. Remember David (and Goliath!! Remember him?)
And this story shows that little becomes much when you place it in the mighty Hands of Jesus.
It was said of Hudson Taylor (I think) that he was ‘a man small enough for God to use.’ On one occasion he was being introduced at a meeting, and the convener gave him such a big build up, saying what a great man he was etc, etc. Hudson came to the platform and declared, ‘I am just the small servant of an illustrious Master.’
And look what God did with that one small life! Hudson Taylor placed his perceived smallness into the mighty Hands of God and see what happened. There was a multiplying effect and countless numbers of people were affected for good. Many were converted; many were called into Christian service. The nation of China was powerfully impacted.
It’s not about how small you are, but how big Jesus is. And Jesus already has ‘in mind’ what to do with little old you (6). So fear not.
”Christ often tests us to see what we shall say and do in the presence of overwhelming difficulty, but he always knows the way out…The world is to be fed by the cooperation of Christ and his Church.” F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.462.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I place my life afresh into you Hands today. Please make me more than I ever thought I could be.