And Jesus said, “Give them some food yourselves.” The disciples protested, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have.” And Jesus said, “Bring them to me.” As always with the gospels there is a lesson for us. The first is found in Jesus’ directions to His disciples. When they are faced with an overwhelming situation. He says, “Give them food yourselves.” Somewhat embarrassed, they hold up a few loaves and fishes and shrug their shoulders.
Jesus takes the food and blesses the little they have to offer. But then rather than hand out the loaves and fishes Himself, He returns them to the disciples who are told to distribute them to the crowd. The first lesson from the gospel. God depends on us to take part in the aid and redemption of the world, you feed them. Three times a week at a bus stop in New York City, a blind lady stands at the bus stop. She climbs aboard the bus and is warmly greeted by the driver. She sits down right behind him, in fact, he had saved the seat.
They carry on an animated conversation as he drives. How is his family, his kids, his wife. She tells him she is scared of losing meals-on-wheels. When they reach the blind woman’s stop the driver helps her off the bus. Then he helps her access the other side of the street in heavy traffic. When he returns the woman is still standing where he has left her. She won’t move till she knows I got back safely, he explains. He honks his horn three times as she smiles and waves. A blind lady and a lowly bus driver, two insignificant people on the world stage.
Hardly five loaves and two fish between them. Yet, Christ blessed what they had and handed it back to them. Each made a contribution from what little they had. They could have cursed and complained that they had so little and withheld their meager gifts. But instead, they fed each other from their small store of compassion and caring. Jesus tells His disciples, “Bring them, bring the insignificant loaves and fish to me and do not back off, do not say it is too little, what can we do?” I know the problems are great and your resources are tiny, but don’t give up.
Bring them to me to be blessed. A man wrote to Ann Landers, He had lived through depression in the 1930s. His message was that kids today have an easy time compared to teens of his day. A teen responded to his letter, this is what she wrote. “Let me ask your generation a few questions: Were your parents divorced? Almost every one of my friends came from a broken home. Were you thinking of suicide when you were twelve? Did you have an ulcer when you were sixteen? Did your classmate carry guns and knives?
How many of your class came to school high on drugs or drunk? Did your school have armed security guards in the halls? What percentage of your graduating class also graduated from a drug and alcohol rehab center? She ends by saying, when I was your age, I won’t be looking back. I’ll just thank God I survived. So many temptations to face, some parents wonder. What are we to do? We have nothing but five loaves and two fish. That might also be the response of someone trying to make an honest living.
The pressures to cut corners, the ‘everyone is doing it philosophy.’ Cutthroat competition and office politics they sap energy and spirit. How can one be a Christian in the workplace? They have all the power, I just have bread and fish. That might be the response of a spouse desperately trying to make a go of a troubled marriage. A spouse who has grown weary of being the only partner working on the relationship. The other partner is never around and when they are home, their mind is elsewhere. The spouse says sadly, there is nothing left in this marriage but five loaves and two fish.
Many people today have cares and anxieties and sorrows and they ask what are we to do? That was the response of the disciples when five thousand plus followed Jesus into the desert. Remember Jesus’ reply, “You give them something to eat.” And, the disciples protested, “How? We have nothing but five loaves and two fish.” And Jesus says, “Bring them to me.” He looks up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves. He gave them to the disciples who gave them to the crowd and all were fed. What is the lesson here?
For those at their wit’s end, those stuck with just five loaves and two fish. In the face of overwhelming hunger is to realize that they have a friend. A friend who says bring them to me, bring me your skills and weaknesses. Bring me your strengths and fears, your children and their futures. What little you have, bring them to me. And I will make them adequate for the task. Bring them to me your hopes, your dreams, your convictions. Bring them to me your burdens, your challenges, your responsibilities, your hurts.
You see when life gets the best of us, perhaps it is often because we focus too much on how little we can do. And too little on how much Christ can do. In any case, know that He will have the last word. He says, “Don’t try to avoid your cross, pick it up and carry it. Don’t carry it to Calvary, just bring it, bring it to Me.”