Two shoe salesmen were sent to Africa
. One relayed a telegram home that read, “Get me home; nobody here wears shoes.” The other’s telegram said: “Send me all of the shoes you can; nobody here wears them.”
As we all know, some people see opportunities that become potential solutions; others see disappointments that cause them to despair.
John 6:1-15 is a Bible story with which most people are familiar and one in which I can put myself in the disciples’ sandals.
People are showing up for supper, and I, like Jesus’ close friends, am feeling responsible for their growling tummies. Which is a problem since somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000 are coming from every direction
. I check my pantry. Nope. One box of Tomato-Basil Wheat Thins and a can of Cheez Whiz won’t do the job.
In Scripture, this is where we find Jesus asking Philip for his answer to feed the masses. Really? Jesus’ needs his friend’s opinion? Philip responds: “Er… Jesus, I’m kind of expecting you to know where we can buy this amount of bread.”
So far, not bad, even though the disciple doesn’t seem to realize that he is addressing the source of all food, the one who daily fed millions in Moses’ day, the one for whom this task is a piece of cake. Or a crumb of bread. Plain and simple.
Now Philip gets practical as he fails to understand the teaching moment Jesus is providing for him. (I can soooo relate.) He asks, “And who’s going to pay for it? Not even eight months’ wages will buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Rational Philip realizes that this problem is bigger than his ability to solve it. His buddy and fellow disciple, Andrew, steps in, pointing to a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish. But Andrew’s attempt to see something positive also is short-lived. He questions how so little can fill so many.
Have you been there? “Here, Jesus, I give my problem to you. Completely to you. I trust you will provide the answer and get me out of this mess.” Whew! You feel better already. But within seconds, doubts creep in. You grab your problem out of Jesus’ hands and clutch it greedily, allowing it to grow and flourish. The cycle repeats itself as you give and grab, give and grab, give and grab.
Jesus, the master at imparting life-changing messages, is about to provide a miracle the likes of which the disciples have never seen. Their inadequacy is soon to be his adequacy.
It’s the same lesson he desperately wants us to understand every time we are faced with a problem, no matter how small or, like in this case, how large. After Jesus takes the boy’s Happy Meal from him, he looks to Heaven and thanks his Father for the provisions. Plain and simple.
The rest is history.
God increased the portions as the disciples distributed the bread and fish to the crowd. Can you imagine the murmuring and excitement as everyone was fed?
The lesson is intended for us as well.
We give God what we’ve got, as inadequate as that might be, and He supplies the rest. Our part is to see the opportunity and obey.
Plain and simple.