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Sometimes children do far better than their elders in not being daunted by what is “impossible”.
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The miraculous feeding of 5,000+ is one of the few incidents recorded in all four of the gospel narratives.  Each account includes a few unique details, and putting all of them together gives us a fuller picture of this remarkable day.  I’m certain no one who was there ever forgot it!

All of the accounts mention that the huge crowd is fed by the (miraculous) division and distribution of five loaves and two fish.  (These loaves would have been what we call pita, maybe somewhat bigger than ours.  The fish would almost certainly have been smoked to preserve them.)

Only Mark records that Jesus asks the twelve to go investigate how much food is available. (Mark 6:38)  Only John records that the loaves and the fish are offered by a boy, who approaches Andrew with his willingness to share. (John 6:8-9)

The word translated “boy” (or “lad” in some versions) means a “little boy”, a child.  There’s a different word for a young man.  Close your eyes for a moment and picture the scene in your mind.  It’s getting late in the day.  There are a LOT of people milling around—they’ve come away from their homes to hear this dynamic teacher, who is so different from the scribes they are used to.  There’s a buzz of excitement.  And also, they’re hungry.

There’s an innocence in the boy’s offer. 

Now, working their way through the crowd, the teacher’s close disciples are asking if anyone has any food.  They are embarrassed to be asking—there couldn’t possibly be enough!  But this boy comes up to Andrew and says, “I have some.”  Someone packed this boy a supper—something nobody else seems to have had the foresight to do. Andrew brings the boy to Jesus and conveys the offer, then comments, “But what is that among so many?”  He knows it is impossible to feed so many with so little!

There’s an innocence in the boy’s offer.  Children can be cruel and they can be very selfish.  But they can also be surprisingly generous.  And sometimes they do far better than their elders in not being daunted by what is “impossible”.

At a different time, Jesus makes an example of such a child:

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 18:2-4)

The child who approaches Andrew is such a humble child.  Jesus asks, “Who has some food?”  The boy answers, “I’ll share mine!”

So.  How are we doing at the “turn and become like children” requirement, without which we have no hope of life?  And how are we doing at sharing, however little we have, confident that Jesus can do the “impossible” with it?

Love, Paul

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