Monday, November 25, 2013

A Disciple, a Boy and the Multitudes

I’m not exactly sure how many times I’ve collectively heard or read the story but it’s been at least a million. A little boy.  A simple lunch.  And five thousand men to feed.  And my favorite part – they ate until they were satisfied and had twelve baskets of leftovers because the Messiah took what was offered and gave thanks. 

But this part I noticed just recently. 
“Philip answered him, ‘Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’ Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’”  (John 6:7-9) 

I think I have always focused on the boy.  Everyone says offer what you have.  Give Jesus your bread and fish and he will feed the multitudes. I’ve said that!  And I believe it. Completely.  Give what you have to give. Give thanks.  And watch how He can make it enough. See how He feeds the multitudes.

But the part I missed was Andrew, the disciple who recognized the gift and spoke up.  The boy was young.  And he humbly offered what he had with a childlike faith. And, I have a feeling if the boy offered it to Philip, Phillip would have scoffed and not seen it as enough and walked on by without saying one word to Jesus.

Andrew didn’t know if it would be enough. But he knew enough about Jesus to call attention to the boy’s gift.  In this passage of Scripture we see a stark contrast.  One disciple who sees the impossible and another who sees Jesus.  Phillip, who sees an insurmountable task and Andrew, who sees a boy with a gift to offer to the One who cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, so how much more will he care for us? One disciple who cannot fathom feeding five thousand men plus their families and another who dares to imagine what Jesus can do with 5 small loaves and 2 small fish.  Andrew, himself, had empty pockets. Nothing to offer in this moment.  But, his eyes fell on one small boy while his heart was wrapped around the One who made all things possible.

I wonder… which disciple am I more like? Do I see in others, in my children, what they have to offer and encourage them in it?  Do I build others up so THEY  believe their gift is not too small or their talent too insignificant or that they are too small or insignificant for Jesus to use them, to multiply their offering?  Am I missing the beautiful landscape of gifts that completely surround me?

You know… sometimes… I just don’t have anything to offer.  Sometimes, my act of worship is to look for the best gift to present to the Lord - whether my pockets are full or empty - believing that the multitudes can be fed. 
“Jesus, we have a boy here with a small lunch.  What can you do?”
“Jesus, this little girl with an amazing artistic gift. How can you use her?"
“Jesus, this boy with a wild sense of adventure. What are the possibilities?”

Sometimes, I am the one with the offering.  But, sometimes I am the one who sees the boy and calls out his gift to Jesus. And sometimes, I am the multitudes being fed.  So often, I think I’m the one who needs to offer something.  Always digging deep and searching hard for what it is I think the Lord is asking me to give. Typical really.  This self-centered view.  Because I’m not always going to be the one.  I can't be... And does it really matter who does the offering as long as the multitudes are fed on the feast of the Lord?
We are the body of Christ, disciples of the One who makes all things possible.  And we live to breathe in His grace and breathe out His praise - together -  and that looks like encouraging each other, moving together, calling out each others gifts before Him – all for Him – in the shadow of the cross, where the ground is level and the glory is all His.

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