Our Loaves & Fish

Our Loaves & Fish
By Rod Dixon

I once heard a sermon about approaching God with open hands when we come seeking His blessings. If our hands are occupied, clinging to our cherished things, they won’t be available to receive what God may have prepared for us. (By cherished things, I mean anything like possessions, past hurts, etc.) Unfortunately, the speaker’s application was in the material prosperity arena, sadly missing the most important lesson.

In Luke 18:18-22 we find the story of the rich young ruler seeking the pathway to eternal life. Jesus teaches us an important principle when He tells the young man, “…one thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Jesus was wiling to extend grace and salvation to this man, but his possessions were more dear to him than the eternal life he sought.

Another familiar story comes to us in Mark 6 beginning with verse 30 - it’s the miracle of the feeding of 5,000. The disciples asked Jesus to send the people away to buy food for themselves and in Mark 6:37 Jesus responded “You give them something to eat!…” They resisted Him, but in verse 38 He continued, “ And He *said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they *said, “Five, and two fish.”

From John’s account of the story we learn more interesting details: John 6:5 “Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” 6 This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” We see that Jesus had a plan for what He intended to do, but He asked the disciples to feed the people as a test. John 6:9 continues, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”

Now this Lad has always intrigued me. I can imagine he was sent to the market by his dad or mom to either sell the loaves and fish or, perhaps he bought them to feed his family. In the rush of events, he gets caught up in the crowd or perhaps his curiosity got the best of him, but there he was, with the opportunity to play a central roll in one of the biggest stories in history. Like the rich young ruler, this boy had a choice to make and clearly, it would have implications for him when he got home. Jesus asked the disciples, “What do you have?” and they found this lad with the loaves and fish. What would have happened if the boy refused to let go of those items? He could have explained that he was sent to the market to buy them for his family or to sell them for the income they would produce. In the larger scheme of things we can see that Jesus planned for him to be there with the food and put it in his heart to be generous, and of course we know that Jesus multiplied what was offered in order to reveal more of His character and identity to the disciples, those who ate and to us.

These stories are so rich with meaning and lessons for us to apply today. God’s intentions (plan) can be obstructed or facilitated, often based on what we are willing to do. The disciples were faced with a huge challenge when Jesus asked them to feed the masses. In the end, they offered up all they had and left the rest to Jesus. The young ruler and the lad with the loaves and fish both faced the challenge to let go of all they had in order to enter into the richness of God’s mercy and grace. The young ruler walked away, hands still filled with his riches, but missed eternal life. The lad returned home empty handed, having released all that he had but witnessed God being God, and his story is still being told today.

I wonder what God might place in our hands if they weren’t occupied, clinging to something else - what might He do through us? Jesus has offered us living water, like a spring that continually replenishes itself. We are not designed to be vessels that collect and store that water. Rather, we are designed to be conduits through which living water flows for the benefit and blessing of others. So let’s let go, offer all we are and have to the King of Kings and see what He will do in us and through us.