“It’s not much, Reuben. It won’t go far,” Mama had said this morning, pressing the small basket of bread and fish into my hand. But how very wrong she had been.

My cousin and I were in the first wave of people that ran around the lake, hoping to catch sight of the Rabbi landing on the far side. His disciples didn’t seem too pleased to see us there, but Jesus greeted us as he climbed from the boat and led us to a quiet, shady place where he started to speak. We pressed in close to catch every word, for he didn’t speak in the loud and lofty voice of a usual rabbi. Yet somehow his words carried on the air, and every one of them smouldered something to life in me, as if a flame was burning through my heart.

I didn’t even notice the long shadows creeping over us, until the urgent tones of a disciple interrupted the Rabbi’s words: “Master, this place is so remote and it’s getting late. Send everyone away so they can buy something to eat.”

“You give them something to eat,” Jesus said.

“But look how many there are!”

For the first time that afternoon I looked away from Jesus’ face. As far as I could see there were people—sitting, standing, roaming about. Men, women, children—I had never seen such a thrumming mass of humanity.

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

It would take thousands and thousands of loaves to feed this crowd, I thought, but as the disciples started asking who had food, I suddenly remembered my basket.

“I have some,” I said loudly as one of them walked past me.

He looked doubtfully at my meagre portions and then indicated for me to come with him, pushing me before the Rabbi. “Master, here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Joy welled up in me as I handed the basket to Jesus. It felt good to place it in his hands, even though I didn’t know what he intended to do with it. Today his words had given me so much more than the small gift I now offered him.

Jesus smiled at me before lifting his eyes to heaven and thanking God for the food. And then he started to break the bread and divide out the fish. It was astounding. In his hands five loaves seemed to turn to fifty thousand, and two fish to twenty thousand. Every person there ate their full, and never before had barley loaves or fish tasted so good.

So tonight I’m rushing back to tell Mama how wrong she was. That even the smallest, simplest gift becomes something of value in Jesus’ hands.

What can you place in His hands today?

(Based on John 6:1-13 / Mark 6:30-42)

If you enjoyed reading this Step-into-the-Bible Devotional, you might also enjoy reading Learning to Lean.


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