Can God use kids? According to John’s record of this same story, the five small barley loaves and two small fish that Jesus multiplied belonged to a young boy (see John 6:9). Perhaps it was his lunch. Regardless, I’m sure that boy never forgot the day when his few loaves and fish fed five thousand men.
This story shows us that God can take what little we have to give and make it into something that can bless a lot of people. We may think, like that little boy, that we don’t have very much to offer. But God can multiply what we have. In so doing, it is He, not us, who is rightfully made to look better in other people’s eyes.
I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to see this miracle. Specifically, I’ve wondered when the food actually multiplied. Did it multiply only in Jesus’ hands, or did it also multiply in His disciples’ hands? It seems reasonable to conclude that it was both, due to the fact that so many thousands of people were fed. Remember that there must have been many women and children besides just the five thousand men who were fed.
I think it is also very likely that the bread and fish continued to multiply in the hands of the people sitting in the groups. If so, that could be how they all knew that a great miracle had just taken place (see John 6:14). Wouldn’t that be something to see—food multiplying in your own hands? Regardless, this story is one more proof that Jesus was God. At least five thousand people witnessed what happened, and there is no record in history that anyone at that time even attempted to claim that it didn’t happen.
This story also shows us how much God loves people. Jesus and His disciples were trying to get away from the crowds just to rest for a while and eat a meal without interruption. So they journeyed by boat across the Sea of Galilee to a desolate spot. But when they arrived at their destination, a vast crowd was waiting for them. Amazingly, Jesus displayed no aggravation, but rather, He felt compassion for them and ministered to them by teaching and healing (see Luke 9:11). Then, late in the afternoon, He was concerned that the people needed food to eat, so He provided a meal for them. Our God cares about us. He wants to supply our needs. We shouldn’t ever feel that we’re bothering Him. He loves us dearly!
Q. Once, a modern Pharisee who didn’t believe in the miracles of the Bible, attempted to disprove Jesus’ miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. He claimed that back in Jesus’ time, the loaves of bread were very large. How do we know that wasn’t true?
A. Because the loaves belonged to a young boy. There is no way he could have carried five loaves that were large enough to feed five thousand men. Keep in mind that the women and children who were fed that day weren’t even counted, so it’s possible Jesus fed more than twenty thousand people. Also, the boy’s two fish fed everyone as well. Unless those fish were multiplied by Jesus, they must have been extremely large fish to feed so many people! Finally, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of what was left over. One young boy couldn’t have carried even a fraction of the leftovers.
Q. Why do you suppose Jesus instructed the disciples to collect all the leftovers?
A. Perhaps so everyone would see that food had been multiplied. Also, Jesus stated that He didn’t want any of the food to be wasted. God wants us to be good stewards of what He gives us as well, not wasting things unnecessarily. (Also, God doesn’t want us to be litterbugs!)
Q. What do you think Jesus did with the leftovers?
A. I would guess that He gave some to the little boy whose loaves and fish He multiplied. He may also have given some to designated people in the crowd to distribute to the poor. And He may have kept some for His disciples and Himself to eat later.
Application: Has God given you a gift? Offer it to Him to be used as He sees fit, and He’ll use you to bless other people.