John 6:5-14. NIRV
5 Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him. So he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test Philip. He already knew what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “Suppose we were able to buy enough bread for each person to have just a bite. That would take more than half a year’s pay!”
8 Another of his disciples spoke up. It was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He said,9 “Here is a boy with five small loaves of barley bread. He also has two small fish. But how far will that go in such a large crowd?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down. About 5,000 men were there. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks. He handed out the bread to those who were seated. He gave them as much as they wanted. And he did the same with the fish.
12 When all of them had enough to eat, Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Gather the leftover pieces,” he said. “Don’t waste anything.” 13 So they gathered what was left over from the five barley loaves. They filled 12 baskets with the pieces left by those who had eaten.
14 The people saw the sign that Jesus did. Then they began to say, “This must be the Prophet who is supposed to come into the world.”
I wonder if you ever take your lunch to school. Does your mother or father pack your lunch? What types of things do you hope for when you open your lunchbox to get ready to eat? Is there a sandwich in there? What kind of sandwich? Are there Goldfish in there? What about a sweet treat? Did your mom or dad pack a sweet treat? Tell me some of the things that you find in your lunchbox? (Allow children to provide answers.) I can remember my mom writing a note on my napkin or paper towel that was placed in my lunchbox.
Today’s scripture passage is about a boy and his lunch. It’s found in the New Testament. The Gospel of John, one of the first books of our New Testament, tells this story. Interestingly enough, this story is so important in the life of Jesus that it is also found in three of the four Gospels. Today, we are looking at the passage from John. Let me tell you the story of the little boy and his lunch.
(This is a paraphrase found in the Zondervan-published New International Reader’s Version of The Super Heroes Bible that contains the page descriptions of scripture in a storytelling approach. If you have this discontinued Bible on hand, you could read directly from the page).
The little boy first jumped one way, then another, laughing as his shadow jumped along with him. His mother had put fish and bread in a sack for his lunch. He was off exploring for the day.
Climbing over rocks and running around hills, he came to a huge crowd of thousands of people. He stopped to listen to the teacher, who was speaking to them. The little boy worked his way right to the front row. He tossed his lunch on the ground and plopped down next to it. Lying back on his arms, he listened to Jesus. He sat up in amazement when Jesus healed some sick people. WOW! IF JESUS COULD MAKE SICK PEOPLE WELL, HE COULD DO ANYTHING!
Later that day, Jesus started to talk to his disciples about feeding the people. The boy looked around. How could Jesus feed this many people? He had an idea. He got up and tugged on the robe of a nearby disciple named Andrew. Andrew tried to ignore him. But finally, he gave in and bent down to listen.
“Five small loaves of bread and two fish? And you want me to give them to Jesus to feed the crowd?” Andrew looked at the boy in surprise. But he gave the small lunch to Jesus.
Jesus took the little boy’s lunch and fed not 5 people, not 500 people, but over 5,000 people! The boy watched as the disciples began to hand out the fish and bread. No matter how many people they handed food to, there was still more left.
Jesus smiled at the boy, and he smiled back at Jesus. The boy knew Jesus could do anything!
BE LIKE THE LITTLE BOY
Be like the boy. You may think that you don’t have much to give. But the amount isn’t what matters. It’s what you know God can do with what you give – whether it’s big or small.
Source: The Super Heroes Bible edited by Jean Syswerda; illustrated by Dennis Jones (Zonderkids, 2002).
The little boy knew Jesus could do big things with his small gift of fish and bread. Because of his gift, this miracle happened. The miracle happened after Jesus gave thanks. The first thing Jesus did when he received the little boy’s lunch was thank God for it. He gave thanks for having the food to offer the crowd of people. Jesus gave thanks for feeding the hungry people crowded around him. Gratitude and generosity come from a way of seeing and being in the world. Jesus taught us through this passage in the Gospel of John that we give thanks to God for what is about to happen. We give thanks for what we might not even see yet. And we give thanks to God because we trust that God will provide.
You are such a generous God, and for that, we give you thanks. We thank you for Jesus showing us through this picnic story and the feeding of the crowd that when we trust in you, you will provide us with just what we need. We give you thanks for what has happened in our lives. We give you thanks for what is also about to happen. Use us to show the world through our grateful hearts and thanksgiving how much we love you. Amen.