October 8th 2009

Magnifying Our Poor Offerings

“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?”
John 6:8 (NKJV)

I’ve always wondered about that lad. How come he was there in this very adult situation? I always imagine him getting up as usual that morning and his mum saying to him, “Your dad and I are going to be very busy today. So here’s some lunch for you; go off and enjoy yourself, and keep out of trouble.” In my young days that was how we spent pretty much every day during the long, hot summer holidays from school.

But here he is in this crowd of people presumably listening to an adult talking about very adult things. And yet he stayed. Perhaps because he was such a rarity in the crowd that Andrew, who seems to have got on especially well with young people, had struck up a friendship with him. So when Christ asked, “what food do we have?” Andrew was able to prise the loaves and fishes from the boy. A boy and his lunch soon parted!? Well, he doesn’t seem to have objected, or asked for it back. It was probably what was left over after he had had earlier his fill, after all, it was now late in the day, well past lunchtime. All of which makes what happened to it next all the more remarkable.

And then here he was in the front seat and witnessing first hand how Jesus took those five little loaves and two little fishes and fed five thousand adults with them, with twelve baskets of seconds available at the end of it all. I hope something thanked him for making all of this possible in the first place.

Of course there’s a serious lesson here. That Jesus takes our poor offerings, so often seen by us as inadequate and useless, and magnifies them into something majestic and glorious in his service. The feeding of the five thousand was one of the more spectacular miracles that Jesus performed. And a little boy’s left-over lunch made it all possible.

And what do you think the lad told his mother when she asked him later, “And what did you get up to today?” And did she believe him? And did he get a cuff round the ear for telling her lies?

Most merciful Father, thank you for taking our poor offerings and transforming them into something useful in your service. It’s humbling, but also exhilarating to see you at work in our lives, not just in what we do, but in what you are making us become. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford

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