There’s a character in the Bible who you’ll miss if you aren’t looking for him. He’s only mentioned in one verse, but his role in the story is fascinating.
He’s a young boy. We never even learn his name. But one day somewhere near the Sea of Galilee, in the midst of a crowd of over 5,000 people, he gets to give Jesus something.
You see, there’s a problem.
Jesus – an emerging celebrity in the land – is ministering to people, healing the sick, teaching about God’s kingdom, and making extraordinary claims about who he is and what he’s on earth to do. All of that adds up to a lot of people wanting to see this guy for themselves; to see if the stories are true. Jesus wants to teach them about the love of the Father. He wants to dismantle their false beliefs about who God is and what he wants for them. And he also wants to meet their needs.
In this case, he wants to feed them.
But where can you find enough food to feed a stadium full of people? And who’s going to pay for it?
That’s what the disciples want to know.
Until our pal – the boy – enters the story.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”
– John 6:8-9
Scripture doesn’t say whether Andrew just happened to notice this boy with a picnic lunch, or if the boy came and tapped him on the shoulder to offer his meal. But however it happened, the moment comes where this bread and fish is offered to Jesus.
And he gets that look in his eye; that look the disciples have come to know all too well.
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”
– John 6:10
I’m willing to bet he said it with a grin.
Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
– John 6:11-14
And that’s the end of the episode. We never hear about the boy again. Jesus leaves the crowd and journeys on.
So, doesn’t the boy seem kind of insignificant?
Well, here’s the thing: he is insignificant. He’s just a kid who brought some fish to a get-together.
What is significant is the impact these offerings made. What is significant is the miracle-working fully man, fully God Jesus ending up with the fish in his hands.
Did he need this boy’s meal?
Of course not. He could have produced fish from thin air or called bread to rain down from the sky. But, instead, he invited this picnic-packing kid into the work he was doing.
And it’s the same with us.
In the middle of this great big world and this grand eternal story, it’s easy to feel small and insignificant.
It’s easy to feel like you have nothing to offer God, or, at least, like you have less than someone else.
But God doesn’t care how much you have. He’s concerned with what you do with it.
Just like the boy in the story, we are invited into the work he’s already doing, and that makes what we have significant. Because in the hands of the God of the universe, even the smallest offering of our time, energy, talents, or resources can have an exponential impact – an eternal impact.
All we have to do is bring the fish.