Today I want us to look at a story you likely remember from your childhood days in church, assuming you went to church as a child and got to enjoy teachers such as Claudia Farr sharing simple formatted stories from God’s Word. God’s Truth is meant for all of His children, regardless of age. Never underestimate the impact that a simple Bible story can have in the long-term life of a child or an adult for that matter. Today, we will look at a young boy that used his simple lunch that his mother provided, giving it to our Lord, who then fed over 5000 people with it.
Our text for today is from John 6, another one of my favorite chapters in the Bible from my favorite book in the Bible:
John 6:1-15 (NIV)
 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias),  and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick.  Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples.  The Jewish Passover Festival was near.  When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.  Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year's wages to 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?”  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).  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.  When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”  So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.  After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15) Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.
Here John records for us one of the few miracles or signs that he included in his Gospel account. Jesus has continued to performs signs and wonders and healings in towns and areas around the Sea of Galilee, with many of those around Capernaum. Jesus’ fame is growing rapidly and people are now trying to follow Him everywhere. This is likely occurring on a beautiful early spring day in March since the Passover is near. A large crowd that included some 5000 men and even more if you include women and children, have all ended up in the same place where Jesus and His disciples are. Jesus has compassion on them and wants to do “good” toward them by feeding them. You can read the story and try to picture the anxiety among the disciples trying to figure out how they are going to do such a thing. Finally, Andrew who is the brother of Simon Peter, speaks up and says all we have is what this boy brought with him for lunch. He has five loaves of bread and two small fish. You can now picture Jesus ready to go to work.
Here we have a “boy” that offers up his lunch to Jesus. In the Bible, a boy is typically someone under twelve to thirteen years old. A male child between thirteen and nineteen is usually called a “youth”. Boys went through a ceremony at twelve years of age symbolizing that their time as a child was now over and were then expected to perform certain rites within the Jewish synagogue after that ceremony. The next six to seven years are a time of working and preparing to become a man. At the age of twenty a Hebrew male was now old enough to serve in the army and considered a full adult, (Numbers 1:3).
The inspiration for writing and sharing this note came through the Holy Spirit while listening to a Gospel Song on the radio titled “Small Town Someone”, by Jeff and Sheri Easter. The song describes a little boy, this small town someone, taking his lunch that his mother packed for him and then Jesus blessing it, breaking it, and feeding thousands. He then goes back home and tells his mother that “You won’t believe it when I tell you, all that I saw Jesus do. I still can’t get over; out of all the people He could choose to help Him feed the hungry. I can’t believe He used my lunch. He picked me, just an ordinary, small town someone”.
Jesus performs this great miracle by simply standing there and breaking the loaves and fish into smaller pieces. He does not perform a “bang” type miracle and suddenly there is all of this food for everyone to rush toward and get. No, He just calmly stands there and continually breaks the bread and fish for what must have been hours, until everyone was fed. If the disciples helped distribute it as Matthew’s account of this miracle in Matthew 13 states, then they would have to come back to “the source” to get more food as they kept passing it out. Trip after trip, after trip, they would have to come back to where Jesus is breaking the bread and fish into small pieces from the basket this boy brought his lunch in. They did not go to the store. They did not go to the staging point of where they had built up a bunch of loaves and fish. No, they kept coming back, over and over to the source. Every single piece of bread and fish given to the crowd went through the hands of Jesus who was Himself breaking the pieces. Jesus was again here using His creative power, that same power we spoke of a few weeks back in the lesson titled “Holy Spirit Power”. He just simply chose to use His creative power a little at a time, making more and more food out of one basket of food. Verse 14 and 15 give us some further insight that it was Jesus literally doing the food creation. The people knew it was Jesus and no one else, performing this sign or wonder.
Think about the little boy. Imagine your nine or ten your old boy, or maybe even younger, standing there watching Jesus slowly, calmly, take your lunch in His hands and piece by piece, it multiplies, for hours. Think about this young boy going home later that day, likely at the end of a long and miraculous day, and telling his mom what he has seen. “Mom, you won’t believe what Jesus did today with my lunch. Mom, Jesus used my lunch to feed thousands!” I wonder how his mom reacted when he got home and told her this story. While considering that, think about how you react when your child comes running up to you after children’s church or Sunday School with something they made to help them visualize a story about Jesus. Are you excited as surely this mom was? The boy from John 6:1-15 surely was never the same after that day.
A few weeks back we looked at how the Holy Spirit gives us gifts that He distributes as He sees fit. We looked at the passage in 1 Corinthians 12:7 where it says the Holy Spirit gives us those gifts to be manifested for the “common good”. That verse is right after the verses where Paul describes many of the type of gifts that the Holy Spirit gives. As we looked at that passage, I asked you to not get enamored with that list of things outlined by Paul. If you do so, you may not recognize and then praise God for the opportunities He presents you. This boy just went to see Jesus. He did not go there with some great ideas on how Jesus was going to use him that day. He was not looking for any credit or praise himself. He just went to see Jesus. He just went to “the source”. He was just “Looking to Jesus” as Hebrews 12:2 tells us. Jesus then just simply used what the little boy had and offered and performed the largest magnitude miracle (in numbers of people immediately impacted), that is recorded in the Gospels. The same is true with us. Jesus is still the source as we saw in our series on the Holy Spirit. Everything flows from Him but it flows through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the source and the Holy Spirit is the vehicle, the pipe, the motive force, the power. You don’t have to be running around thinking about “how can God use my spiritual gift today”. No, all you have to do is offer what you have, big or small, to the source and He will place the opportunity in front of you. Cory and Brandon and Greg Kee or Claudia and others may be offering up such an opportunity to you right now. Someone just needing a ride to the doctor or some baby in the nursery needing to be rocked may be just that opportunity. Just offer up what you have to Jesus, every day.
Cory’s examples in that sermon on 8/15 were great; bring a lunch, offer a ride, or get a towel. We are surrounded by things everyday where God can use us. He just wants us to take off our shoes and realize we are on Holy Ground all of the time. He just wants us ready to be used. He just wants us “Looking to Jesus”. Jesus used something as simple as this boy’s lunch, this gift the boy offered back to the one that provides it in the first place. Jesus then did the multiplying, the creating, and turned the little into something big. Your effort does not have to be big. He takes what you offer and He makes it big. He is responsible for the outcome. He just wants to use you and get pleasure out of watching the look on your face when He produces the results. He wants us to share in His joy by being an instrument that He gifted in the first place. Others may never know the outcome and sometimes you may not either. It is not about you. It is about Him and what He does with what you offer back to Him that He gave you in the first place.
If you read the rest of chapter 6, and I pray you do, John tells us a deeper reason Jesus performed this miracle. Yes, He wanted to meet a physical need for that particular day among all those there. His compassion led Him to feed them but there was a much deeper thing Jesus wanted to teach the disciples and that John then recorded for us to learn from today. The disciples had to keep coming back to the source, Jesus himself, because as He tells them, He literally is the “bread of life”. If you want to truly satisfy your appetite, your spiritual and deepest and what should be your most important appetite, you must come to Jesus. God’s Word tells us that the Hebrews received manna from heaven in the wilderness. John 6:31 and 6:49 and 6:58 all reference the manna, the miracle food, the disciples’ ancestors ate in the wilderness. This was their bread that kept their physical bodies alive as they came out of Egypt. Jesus goes on to explain in John 6:35 and 6:51 that He Himself is the “bread of life”, the only thing that will satisfy your true hunger and thirst. God’s Word also tells us in Revelation 2:17, written by John as well, that those that have “ears to hear” will receive manna, the bread of life, the Word of God for their spiritual bodies. The Word of God will yield it’s result and produce salvation. With that we will be declared righteous and receive a new name. I believe all of that in Revelation 2:17, is symbolic of what happens to us when we receive Christ. He calls our spirits name, making it alive. He declares us righteous through the gift of His grace. And He becomes the bread of life, the only thing that will ever satisfy our true hunger.
There is so, so much more in John 6 that I hope you will find time to study in depth. It is one of the more important passages in God’s Word regarding how God and Jesus work together in the act of salvation. This ground breaking passage all starts with a little boy sharing his lunch with Jesus and then Jesus explaining how this miracle is really all about something much bigger. The passages such as John 6:37-40, 6:44, 6:65, and 6:70, are some of the more exciting in all of the Bible to some, yet some of the more controversial to others. Some of those in attendance were followers of Jesus up to this point. They marveled at the miracle He just performed. In verse 6:42 though we see them say something very similar to what we saw last week in the passage from Luke about Jesus preaching in His hometown and the people getting offended. Here in John 6 some of His follower’s state, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph, he whom his father and mother we know?”. The things Jesus states in this teaching session are so controversial to them that they leave Jesus as John 6:66 tells us and sadly cease to be His followers.
The whole chapter is very powerful and life changing. It all starts with a little boy going big with his lunch.
May you come to “the source” today and receive the bread of life. May you partake of that bread, the true source, every day, growing strong in your relationship with Him, always “Looking to Jesus”. May you also open your eyes to see that you are on Holy Ground and that literally every part of your life can be used by the Holy Spirit to meet a “good” need in those around you. GO BIG today!