“When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.” (John 6:12-13)
Samuel was a thoughtful lad. He had heard about Jesus Christ and the many “…miracles which he did on them that were diseased” (verse 2). He also had heard that Jesus would be preaching by the Sea of Galilee. What a great opportunity this would be for Samuel to finally go to see Jesus for himself! He’d have to leave out quickly if he wanted to get a good seat.
Not wanting to miss lunch, Samuel packed some loaves and fishes into his knapsack and headed off. In his thoughtfulness, he packed some extra; he’d not only have something for his lunch, but if the Preacher really got long-winded, Samuel would also have enough for his supper.
As Samuel sat listening to Jesus, he was greatly impressed by His Wisdom. No man taught with such authority and plainness of speech. Samuel noticed that many in the crowd complained about not being able to understand the Words of Christ. Yet Samuel found the Message to be profound in its simplicity. To him, the Word Jesus spoke was alive and spoke straight to the core of his being. In fact, Samuel was so attentive, that he’d forgotten to eat lunch. The loaves and fishes were still in his pack.
When afternoon began to grow toward evening, the Preacher closed His Message and the crowd began to commune among one another. Many had been like Samuel, they’d been enraptured by the teachings of Jesus and had forgotten to eat lunch. Unlike Samuel, however, no one had been thoughtful enough to pack a meal. Consequently, there were many that were faint and weary, with little strength to return home.
The situation was no surprise to Jesus. His disciples had become aware of the fact that the people were tired and hungry, and made the suggestion that Jesus should send them away to their homes and the surrounding villages.
“…Send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals” one of the disciples, probably Judas, declared (Matthew 14:15)
“…Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Jesus responded, directing his question to Philip” (John 6:5)
“Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little” (John 6:7)
“But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat…” (Luke 9:13)
Samuel marveled at the absurdity of the situation. Here were 5,000 men, plus women and children; and Jesus commands His Disciples to feed them. Such a feat is virtually impossible, even if the disciples were to spend two hundred pennyworth to buy bread. There’s no way everyone will be fed. Samuel thought about the loaves and the fishes. Even this was too small an amount to suffice more than a dozen people. All the same, Samuel believed God would bless his small offering and that somebody would have their need met. He spoke to Andrew, who relayed the message to Jesus:
“There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9)
Andrew’s question brings to light a problem that a lot of people have. They look at circumstances (the multitude) and their ability (the loaves and fishes) and conclude that they are in a hopeless situation. On the other hand, the lad (whom this author has called “Samuel”) shows us a different outlook. He saw his offering (the loaves and fishes) and God’s Ability (the Power which had been wrought through the hands of Jesus) and concluded that he could make a difference with the Lord’s blessing.
Samuel’s sacrificial offering would mean that he returned home that night famished. But in his mind, his actions would be a blessing to someone else. This gave him joy that the Lord would so use him to be a blessing, even if it was only to a few individuals.
But then, he witnessed a miracle:
“And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. (11) And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. (12) When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. (13) Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.” (John 6:10-13)
How often do we find ourselves in a position similar to this one? We are faced with a situation that we can use to make a difference in someone else’s life, but circumstances and our own abilities discourage us from acting in faith. True joy comes when we commit ourselves to the Lord and trust in His Ability to multiply our provisions. You cannot out-give God (Romans 11:35).
Samuel gave his all. The Lord multiplied it, feeding over 5,000 people on a lad’s lunch, and taking up 12 baskets of the fragments. Who do you think got the baskets?
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