When I hold a basketball in my hands, it’s merely a basketball, but when you place that same basketball in the hands of Michael Jordan, it turns into collegiate and professional championships. Put a golf club in any of our hands, and it’s merely a golf club, but when you place that same golf club in the hands of Tiger Woods, it turns him into the best golfer in the world. A paintbrush in my hands might result in a pretty good picture if it’s paint by numbers, but when a paintbrush was placed in the hands of Renoir, it turned into incredible works of art. A gun placed in the hands of a hunter is a tool used for sport or obtaining food, but when placed in the hands of a terrorist, that same gun becomes a weapon of destruction. How is it that the same instruments and the same tools can bring about such differing degrees of results? Quite simply, it depends upon who is holding them and how they’re being used.
This morning’s scripture passage is an excellent example of what can happen and how things can be used when we place them in the hands of God. The scene is a grassy meadow near Bethsaida Julias across the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum. Jesus has been preaching and healing the sick much of the day. He has retreated in order to get some rest and recharge his batteries, but when he looks up, the crowd has followed him. He turns to Philip, because this is Philip’s old stomping grounds, “Where can we buy bread for these people?” Somewhat quizzically, Philip replies, “Don’t you understand that it would take more than 6 months’ wages to buy bread for all these people.” He knew that Jesus was kind and thoughtful, but even for Jesus, this was out there. All of a sudden Andrew shows up, “Hey guys, there’s a little boy here who has 5 barley loaves and two fish.”
I’ve often wandered what it must’ve been like to be that little boy? When he got up that morning, he was probably planning to spend the day fishing or playing with his friends. As he’s on his way out the door, his mother hollers to him, “Did you pack a lunch?”
“Aaawww, Mom.” “Get back in here right now, young man. You know you can’t be out all day and not have anything with you to eat. You just sit right there while I make you some lunch.” She pulls out the little lunch basket, and prepares him a lunch of five loaves and two fish.
Now, these loaves of bread were not your top of the line sour dough loaves of bread. They were barley loaves, which was the cheapest of all breads; and his fish wasn’t salmon or tuna, it was pickled sardines. This kid leaves the house muttering to himself, because all his friends are going to make fun of him when they see that his mother made him bring his lunch.
On his way to meet his buddies, he sees this large crowd gathering, and he asks, “What’s going on?” “See that guy up there? That’s Jesus of Nazareth. He is an incredible teacher, and he can heal people. We all want to hear him preach and see him heal people.”
Intrigued, the young boy forgets about meeting up with his friends, and he begins to listen to Jesus preach. He becomes enthralled with his teachings about the kingdom of God and love and forgiveness, and he can hardly contain himself as Jesus makes the blind see and enables the lame to walk. He ends up spending the whole day listening to Jesus, and when Jesus retreats, he joins the crowd and follows him.