Jesus Makes Our Gifts Stretch

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John 6:10-11 “Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”

There are no ordinary conditions in which five loaves of bread and a couple of fish are going to satisfy the hunger of five thousand people. The fact that these loaves were likely smaller than the loaves of bread with which we are familiar, and that the gospels mention five thousand men, but also imply there were additional women and children, only emphasizes the gap between supply and need. Jesus could have just as easily created food for these people out of thin air. There was nothing preventing him from doing so.

But Jesus was pleased to take the humble little offering of this little boy and use it for the work he was about to do. What we have to offer could never be suitable for Jesus’ work, or enough for Jesus’ work, all by itself. But Jesus has redeemed each of us from our sins. He has cleansed us and claimed us for himself, and he receives us as his very own. And so he also receives our meager little gifts, humble as they are. He cleanses them with his grace. He touches them with his power. Then he uses them for his work, including the work of providing daily bread for ourselves and our neighbors. He doesn’t make our provisions appear out of thin air, generally speaking. With his grace, and with his power, he starts with what he have, he extends our supply, and makes it accomplish what he needs to be done.

That does not mean that we should expect to see a miraculous multiplication of our resources on the scale of his feeding the five thousand on a regular basis. We have no promise of a miracle like this.

But we are fools if we think that all our salaries, and all our savings and investments, and all the collected stuff with which we fill our homes, and our attics, and our garages, and even rented storage space could supply our needs for even one minute if Jesus did not love us and bless what we have with his sustaining power. But he does love us, and his power is at work for us.

Many, if not most, of you have even seen how he can take the little you have and make it stretch far beyond your expectations. You stumble upon an outstanding sale. You receive a well-timed and generous gift from someone. You get more meals out of the leftovers than you expected, the clothes last longer than they should, that old car limps along another year. Just coincidence? I don’t think so. In smaller, more subtle ways he continues to extend our supply. And if a great miracle were needed, he can still do that, too. It’s all evidence that Jesus can make do with just the gifts he has given us today.

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