by Janine Mick Wills
“Joshua, where are you and Eli going?”
The boy’s bare feet slid to a halt at his mother’s words. “A boat just docked on the Sea of Galilee. Uncle Naham said there’s a man on board who can perform miracles. Eli and I are going to find out if it is true.”
“I wish the two of you would start thinking about other things besides playing and running all over town,” Martha scolded. She shoved five tiny loaves of barley bread and two pieces of dried fish into a goatskin bag and thrust it into Joshua’s hands. “Just in case you get hungry along the way.”
Joshua kissed his mother’s warm cheek, then he and his cousin raced through the crowded streets of Bethsaida. People streamed from every direction to see the man named Jesus. They jostled one another as they followed Jesus and his twelve disciples to a desert place just outside of town. Joshua and Eli ran in and out of the crowd, calling to friends.
All that morning Joshua watched in amazement as Jesus healed every sick person who came to Him. Later that afternoon, Jesus climbed the side of the mountain, turned to the people, and began to speak. At the sound of His voice, a hush stilled the crowd. Joshua couldn’t believe the number of people who had gathered. Surely it must be the entire town! He overheard a man behind him say, “There must be five thousand people here, and that does not even include all the women and children.”
Joshua listened as Jesus spoke in a clear, calm voice about the Kingdom of God, how He had come from heaven, and how He planned to return there after His Father’s work was finished. Joshua asked Eli if he understood Jesus’ words, but Eli only shrugged his shoulders before running off to chase a butterfly flitting amongst the wildflowers.
The people listened intently to Jesus speak, but as the afternoon shadows lengthened, Joshua heard murmurs ripple through the hungry crowd. For the first time, he noticed the rumbling of his own stomach. He was about to bite into the bread his mother had packed, when one of Jesus’ disciples shouted, “Philip, over here. That little boy has something.”
Two men, one bearded and serious-looking and the other younger and wearing a kind smile, approached Joshua. Joshua backed up a step, gripping his goatskin bag closer to his chest.
“Hey, boy,” the bearded man said. “What do you have in that bag?”
“Philip,” the other man scolded, “do not speak to the lad like that.” He bent down onto one knee and spoke with a soft voice. “My name is Andrew. What is your name?”
Joshua stared at the ground and dug his toes into the thick grass. “Joshua.”
“That is a fine name. Is that your lunch?”
Joshua peeked up and nodded.
“Well,” Andrew said, “see that Man over there? He is the Son of God, and He would like to speak to you.”
Joshua’s eyes opened wide. The man who healed all those people was God’s Son? The promised Messiah?
Andrew gently took Joshua by the arm. “Please come with me.”
When Andrew introduced Joshua to Jesus, the boy tried to speak, but the words stuck in the back of his throat.
“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus said, his deep brown eyes full of love and understanding. “My disciples told me you brought something to eat. Would you give your food to Me, so I might share it with all of these people?”
Joshua’s fright took flight. Surely Jesus must be joking. How could such a little bit of bread and a few bites of fish feed so many? And besides, if he gave away his food, what would he eat?
“Trust me,” Jesus said, “and I will show you a great miracle.”
Grudgingly Joshua handed the bag to Jesus but stayed close by His side to see what would happen. Jesus instructed the people to sit down in groups of fifty. He asked God’s blessing for the food and then broke the bread. Afterward, He instructed the disciples to give the bread to the people. He did the same with the two fish.
Joshua could not believe what happened next. Not only did his lunch feed all the people, but the disciples gathered up the leftover fragments and filled twelve baskets clear to the top.
“Thank you for sharing your lunch,” Jesus said, offering Joshua a piece of bread and fish. One day, many people will read about this day and your part in it.”
Joshua’s misgivings melted under the kindly smile of the Savior. Truly this must be the Son of God, Who would give Himself to save the world from sin. Joshua grinned and shoved a piece of bread into his mouth. Jesus had not only satisfied the hunger in Joshua’s stomach but his hungry soul as well.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AND THEN DISCUSS:
- What did Joshua’s mother pack for his lunch? (Five barley loaves and two small fishes)
- What did Jesus do before He preached to the people? (Healed all who needed healing)
- Did Jesus preach in town or on the side of a mountain? (On the side of a mountain)
- What did Jesus talk about (The Kingdom of God, finishing His Father’s work, etc.)
- How many men heard Jesus preach (5,000)
- Did women and children hear Jesus preach too? (Yes)
- Which disciple told Jesus about Joshua’s food? (Andrew)
- Did Andrew think the five loaves of bread and two fish could feed so many people? (No)
- Jesus told the people to sit in groups of how many? (50)
- What did Jesus do before He gave the bread and fish to the disciples to give the people? (He thanked God.)
- What did Jesus have the disciples do when all the people were full? (Gather up the leftovers)
- How many baskets of leftovers did the disciples gather? (12)
- Are you willing to share your things with others?
- If not, what do you think you should do about that?
* The Bible does not give the names in this story other than Jesus, Philip, and Andrew. I have taken the liberty to name the other characters. This Bible story gives the opportunity to talk to your child(ren) about sharing their things with others for the glory of God.