The Boy with
the Loaves and Fishes
This is the story of a boy who went out for the day to hear a famous preacher and found himself in front of a crowd of five thousand people. It all goes to show how the most unexpected things can happen and when we have gone out to see or do something in which the Lord Jesus Christ is concerned then the unexpected thing can be a very wonderful thing also. This boy had heard that Jesus was declaring the good tidings of the Kingdom of God up in the hills outside the town. He was healing sick people, and thousands of people were flocking out of town to see and hear him. He decided he would go too and listen to Jesus. He knew it would be an all-day affair and there were no shops or places to get food away in the hills, and so he took his lunch with him. And up the road he went, out of the town and past all the houses, through the vegetable gardens where the townsmen grew their daily food, until he came to a stretch of grass where crowds of people gathered together to listen to Jesus.
Right up at the front he could see Jesus with his twelve disciples, moving about as He healed first one and then another sick or crippled man or woman. He stopped at times to talk to the people looking on, telling them of the need to repent of their sins because sin is a greater evil even than being sick or crippled, and He wanted to heal them of sin as well as of sickness. Now we do not know what the boy's name was because the Bible does not tell us, so we will call him John; that is a good Bible name and this boy's name is as likely to have been John as anything else.
Well then, John got amongst the crowd and very speedily, as boys do, he pushed to the front where Jesus was, so that he could see and hear all that was going on. We may be sure that he listened very intently to all that Jesus was saying about being honest and straightforward and living a life of helpfulness to other people. Although there must have been many things in what Jesus said that he could not fully understand, seeing that he was only a boy after all, yet he was thrilled to hear of the coming time when the Kingdom of God would come to earth and all men would love and do good to their neighbours instead of doing them harm as they do now. And when some men brought a crippled person to Jesus, and Jesus healed him so that he went away leaping into the air and praising God, well, John's eyes nearly popped out of his head with astonishment and excitement, so that he quite forgot to eat his lunch and never even noticed that he was getting hungry.
Now that is where John really came into the picture, because it was getting well into the afternoon and Jesus' disciples thought it was time to have something to eat themselves and then they realised that they had nothing with them. So they asked Jesus if they should tell all the people to go home and get their meal because it would soon be sunset and dark. "Oh no" said Jesus "you give them something to eat where they are". "But how can we" answered the disciples. "We haven't got anything here, and if we had a hundred pounds to spend it wouldn't buy enough bread for this great crowd of people". Jesus looked at them in his usual calm way and said "Well, what have you got?" at the very moment John, realising at last he was hungry, was getting his lunch out of his little bag. One of the disciples — Andrew it was — looking around rather helplessly, saw him do it and came over to see what he had got. John showed him — five little flat barley cakes and two small roasted fishes. Andrew went back to Jesus rather hesitantly and said "There is a lad here, who has five barley loaves and two small fishes; but what are they among so many?"
John held his precious loaves tightly, fearing they were going to be taken away from him, but just then a wonderful thing happened. Jesus looked up and smiled at him, smiled so kindly and understandingly that suddenly John felt he would do anything for Jesus, even to going without his lunch if need be, and straight away he went up and put his precious lunch bag on the ground in front of Jesus. The teacher said "Thank you".
"Tell everybody to sit down" commanded Jesus, and off went the disciples to see about it. Then something happened which John never forgot to his dying day. Jesus took the little barley cakes out of John's bag and gave thanks to God for the good food, and then began breaking them in half, and dividing the two fishes in half, and putting the pieces on the grass before him; but as fast as he did so he still seemed to have them in his hands unbroken. Before long there was a great pile of broken cakes and fish and John was kept as busy as he knew how, piling up more of them as fast as Jesus was breaking them. He was so busy that he hardly had time to feel astonished, although he had never seen anything like it before. As for the disciples, when they came back from telling everybody to sit down they just couldn't make it out at all. Then Jesus quietly told them to start taking the food around to all the people on the grass waiting for it.
Now the important thing about this story is that if John had not been practical enough to think of his lunch when setting out in the morning nothing of this would have happened. All the older people went out to see and hear Jesus without thinking of the fact that before the day was out they would need food. John went out just as eager to see and hear Jesus but he remembered and made provision for his bodily needs as well. And because of that he became the only one in that great crowd of five thousand people who Jesus could use for his miracle of making food for all, out of five loaves and two small fishes.
In our day to day experiences we need to be practical while we serve the Lord Jesus and listen to Him. We should remember the needs of those around us and be ready to have the Lord use us in helping other people as well as spending our time praising Him or reading about Him,. We need to put into practice the things we learn from Him, so that, as the Scriptures put it, people may take notice that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. We should not get our heads so much in the clouds that we fail to keep our feet on the earth. That does not mean that we should forget the things of God and spend all our time looking after our daily wants. The Scripture does not say that we should spend all our time looking after our food and clothes and homes. Rather we are to seek the Kingdom of God chiefly and then other things will come into their proper place. But we must give them the right amount of attention and the Lord will do the rest. John did not busy himself trying to bring enough food for all the people. He just brought enough for himself and the Lord took care of the difficult bit ‑ enough to feed five thousand.