The People are Coming

When I say loaves and fishes what do you think? Well, in my mind, right before the thought of a sesame seed bagel with a healthy serving of smoked salmon, comes the remembrance of a story from the Bible where Jesus multiplies a few loaves and a couple of fish to feed around 10,000 people. Of course this story would rank prominent in the mind of a church goer. It was one of Jesus’ hallmark miracles accounted for in the Bible.

But there is more to the story than the miraculous multiplication of some bread and fish. There is a lesson for all of us to consider in our own lives. The account is written in the 6th Chapter of the book of John and the lesson is found in the verses leading up to the account. We find Jesus with his disciples heading up a mountain where they sit down. A crowd followed Jesus and the disciples. This crowd was described as “large” with as many as “five thousand men” included in it. The woman and children would have at least doubled that number. So there were a lot of people walking up that mountain (probably more like a hill from our topographical reference point).

As Jesus and the disciples were sitting there watching this crowd move up the mountain, Jesus spoke up to Philip, one of his disciples, and said “‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?’” (John 6:5). Philip’s initial thought may have gone something like this, “Well now, that is an interesting question, Jesus. I have no idea!” But rather than admit to his obvious lack of a plan, Philip deflects the question by referring to the resource they did not have - money. Things are hopeless, Jesus! “‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.’” Notice in Philip’s reply that he not only focuses on the high cost to feed such a crowd but he further diminishes any hope of feeding the lot of them by suggesting that even if they spent such a large sum of money no one was going to get much of anything. In other words, we are going to have to spend a lot of money to just give a little to each person. This is what we at eMite call the Not Enough for Way Too Little syndrome or abbreviated NEWTooL Syndrome.

NEWTooL is commonly used to discourage anyone from doing anything that will help in anyway. This proclamation, that something costs way too much and even if the cost were covered such insignificant impact would be made through it, is responsible for the death of countless philanthropic endeavors. Endeavors that would have certainly changed the lives of many people and possibly would have changed the world that many live in.

Think about Philip’s reply. Why did he not include a value that would have at least given everybody enough to get full? Why not reference 600 Denarii? That would have been triple the amount required to feed the crowd a little. It would have cost him nothing to say that instead of the smaller value. Why limit it to 200 Denarii? Philip went to bottom of the barrel to get his value and finished it off by leaving no hope of making a significant impact on any one in the crowd. Why do anything at all? We just don’t have enough. It does not even make sense to get involved.

That is Philip’s reply. We say “God Bless, Philip!” He was a great disciple and learned a tremendous amount under the leadership of Jesus. But wow! He was all wrong on this one. Contrast Philip’s reply to Andrew’s on the same question. Verse 8 indicates that Andrew replied, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they to so many?” So Andrew appears just as faithless as Philip but he did not go with the NEWTooL Syndrome. His reply is was we at eMite call the This is What I Got - It Ain’t Much statement. We abbreviate this one as well - TWIG-I-AM.

Andrew’s reply did not show much faith, but what it did do is leave a possibility that something could be done. Hey, 5 loaves and 2 fish won’t feed a crowd of 10,000 people unless of course you are sitting on a mountain with the Son of God! Once the resource, however small and insufficient, was presented to Jesus, he got immediately to work. The people sat down on the grass, and Jesus gave thanks over the little that was brought to him and the rest is history.

When comparing the NEWTooL Syndrome to the TWIG-I-AM response it is important to recognize that both were given by people who were disciples of Jesus. Both had seen the miracles performed by this man. In fact the crowd was following Jesus up the mountain because “they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” (vs 2). Philip and Andrew had much more time and much more exposure to the miracle worker, Jesus. No human is immune from viewing circumstances from the perspective of too little, not enough. We all can fall for this one. That is why at eMite our giving model is based on many giving a little to produce a tremendous effect. The fact is that if we are willing to give our Mite, no matter the size, we can have a great impact on people’s lives. The crowd may be large and the cost may seem high and just maybe in your eyes your small gift can’t really make an impact. But the truth is that the only Mite that will have no impact is the one that is not given. Your Mite, when given, has an impact.

The miracle of multiplication account written in the gospel of John shows us that Jesus had a plan before he even asked the question. He knew what was going to happen and how the crowd would be fed. He knew that there would be leftovers after everyone was full. He knew exactly how it would be done. In the same manner he knows exactly what he can do with your Mite. The question is whether you will allow the NEWTool Syndrome to keep you from making your TWIG-I-AM statement?

Give your Mite and see what happens.