Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.
All four of the Gospels record the amazing miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. When Jesus asked Philip where they could buy a great amount of bread, Philip started assessing the probable cost. If anyone knew where to get food, it would have been Philip because he was from Bethsaida, a town about nine miles away (John 1:44). Jesus, however, tested Philip to strengthen his faith. By asking for a human solution, Jesus highlighted the powerful and miraculous act that he was about to perform.
The disciples are contrasted with the youngster who simply brought what he had. They certainly had more resources than the boy, but they knew they didn’t have enough, so they didn’t give anything at all. The boy gave what little he had, and it made all the difference.
In performing his miracles, Jesus usually preferred to work through people. Age is no barrier to Christ. Never think you are too young or old to be of service to him. Here he took what a young child offered and used it to accomplish one of the most spectacular miracles recorded in the Gospels.
There is a lesson in the leftovers. God gives in abundance. He takes whatever we can offer him in time, ability, or resources and multiplies its effectiveness beyond our wildest expectations. If you take the first step in making yourself available to God, he will show you how greatly you can be used to advance the work of his Kingdom.