I bet more than one person out of 5,000 men plus women and kids packed a lunch that day.
Or at least grabbed something to nibble on later as they pursued Jesus.
No, they didn’t expect to have a gathering in the wilderness.
It happened quite spontaneously.
They spotted Jesus and his disciples and followed them to the middle of nowhere.
Poor Jesus was just trying to get some time alone with His Dad.
He had just gotten the news that Herod had killed his friend, cousin and coworker, John the Baptist.
But the crowd spotted his direction, word spread like wildfire and suddenly the gathering was greater than 5,000 people.
So Jesus did what He did best.
He laid aside His need and ministered to the people in front of Him.
And at the end of the day, the people were hungry.
So the disciples said, “Send them away so they can eat.”
But in the midst of that sea of humanity Jesus directed, “You feed them.”
And they found that their only available resource was one lunch.
I am guessing there was more food tucked away in bundles here or there.
A snack at least.
But we know that only one boy was willing to share one meal with one Savior.
And one willing heart.
So little in the face of such a great need.
Thousands upon thousands of hungry bodies.
Attached to even hungrier souls.
And I love what Jesus did.
Even more, I love what He did NOT do.
Think about it.
Jesus could have handled the need for food in so many ways.
After all, He spoke the world into existence.
So He could have spoken table upon table of food into being.
He could have said the word and a plate of food could have shown up in each hand.
He could have thought a bundle of bread and fish into existence for each family there.
But that’s not how it went down.
He took the power of one.
And He broke it.
So that He could multiply it.
When I break things, they get smaller.
The whole stays the same but the pieces diminish in size.
But that is not what happens when Jesus does the breaking.
Instead of the whole decreasing, it exponentially increases.
In God’s economy, brokenness equals expansion.
And not just with five barley loaves and two fish.
But over and over again in Scripture the broken pieces – the broken people – become a multiplied return when they yield to the hands of God.
A stuttering murderer named Moses becomes the spokesperson for God before Pharaoh.
A coward in hiding named Gideon becomes the leader of the nation of Israel.
A widow from a despised nation, Ruth, becomes the great-grandma of King David – and the great, great, great (etc.) grandma of Jesus!
And that’s just a few from the Old Testament!
In the New, Saul the persecutor of the Church becomes Paul, the premiere ambassador of the gospel.
Peter, the hotheaded, uneducated fisherman becomes the esteemed leader of the Church.
And it is out of Stephen’s murder that the early Church rapidly spread, fleeing persecution and yet sharing God’s love as they fled.
That’s the power of one broken thing – one broken person – in the hands of a multiplying God.
As Paul wrote, God uses the foolish things to teach the so-called wise. (I Corinthians 1:27)
The weak to shame the strong.
He uses the broken things to let His light shine through the cracks.
He uses the jars of clay – us – to hold eternal glory and the amazing message of grace. (2 Corinthians 4)
I don’t know how many lunches were actually in the crowd the day that Jesus fed the 5,000+.
Maybe there really was only one.
But I do know this – it was the willingness of the young boy to share what he had with Jesus that made the difference.
His lunch wasn’t grand.
And he was just a kid.
But he had the critical piece, the thing that God can use the most.
He was willing.
Willing to be useful.
Willing to be used.
Willing to offer what he had so that it could be broken in the hands of the Master.
That boy had no idea what Jesus would do with his offering.
All he knew was that Jesus was worthy of the gift.
I don’t know about you, but I feel very, very small in light of the issues plaguing our world.
Pick an issue.
Pick a country.
It’s everywhere. In varying degrees.
Persecution of believers.
And 2,500 of the world’s 6,500 people groups with NO knowledge of the gospel at all.
So much need.
It’s so overwhelming.
Makes me want to run away and hide.
Be the two-year old with his hands over his face who thinks you can’t see him because he can’t see you.
Be the ostrich with its head in the sand.
And saying, “I’m just one person. One broken, flawed, sinful person with limited resources. There is nothing I can do.”
And without God in the equation, that would be a true statement.
But with God?
I offer Him me.
Solitary, very-much-one-of-billions, insufficient, sinful me.
I bring Him my lack.
My inability to meet the need.
I offer Him my brokenness.
My selfish heart.
And my sinful nature.
I offer Him me.
And He does what He does.
As my determination to direct my own steps is broken, He multiplies my territory, bringing me to new adventures with Him.
As my heart is broken over this world, He multiplies my prayer life – and my willingness to do whatever it takes to be useful for Him.
As my selfishness is broken, He multiplies His love in my heart, giving me His eyes to see the needs and His strength to do whatever He is calling me to do.
As my will is broken and comes into conformity to His, He multiplies my impact on the world.
Five loaves and two fish, broken in the hands of the Master, satisfied the hunger of thousands that day.
One life, broken in the hands of the Master, can change the world this day.
And the day after that.
If we will give over what we have.
Allow Him to do the breaking.
And then watch as He multiplies the result.