But He said to them, "You give them something to eat!" And they said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people." (Luke 9:13 NASB)
Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?" This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little." One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?" (John 6:5-9 NASB)
All four gospels include an account of the feeding of the 5,000. Each account tells the story from the author's perspective. Combining all the accounts, we get a rich picture of this event as one more training session on the journey of obedience. John makes it clear that Jesus knew what He was going to do before the discussion about the loaves and fish ever took place. Jesus knew about the available food. It was the disciples who did not.
Mark's account tells us that He sent the disciples to survey the crowd and see what food was available. It turned out that what they already had on hand was more than enough to feed the multitude. It was more than enough, that is, once it was placed in the hands of Jesus. Once again, we see that the disciples already had exactly what they needed to complete the task Jesus had given them.
John's account reveals that Andrew knew about the young boy's loaves and fishes and told Jesus. "What are these for so many?" he asked. Andrew could see what he had, but could not see what Jesus could do with it. Andrew played an important role in the miracle of God that day. It was not necessary for Andrew to have divine vision or understanding. He did not have to know what Jesus would do or how He would do it. Andrew's job was to find what was available and offer that to Jesus, and that is exactly what he did.
An important principle is demonstrated here, and we do well to understand it. The disciples already had everything they needed to accomplish the task Jesus had given them, but they didn't know it. It was only when they looked at what they had with fresh eyes that they began to understand what Jesus could use. In our affluent society, our tendency is to buy new, acquire more, ignore the little in our hand in order to get what we think we need. Perhaps we would see a greater work of God if we were willing to offer to God that which is already in our hand. If God has called us to a task, He has given us what we need to accomplish it. Let us begin to use what He has given us instead of waiting to get more.
To what task has Jesus called you? What has He already given you that could be used to accomplish that task? Take a fresh look at the resources Our Lord has placed in your hands, then offer them to God. You may be surprised by the magnitude of what He does, even with what seems like just a little to you!