The story of Jesus feeding the 5000 is found in all four gospels. (See Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-14)* This story seems to begin on a somber note. Three of the four gospels report the beheading of John the Baptist prior to telling the story of the feeding of the five thousand. Mark and Luke explain that Jesus had recently sent twelve disciples out to preach repentance and on their return they attempted to get away for some much needed rest. There is a problem. The crowds saw them leaving and followed. When Jesus saw the multitudes He had compassion on them. Mark reports Jesus teaching the people while Mark adds that Jesus healed those who were sick. This compassion also led to a discussion about feeding the multitude. John reports that at the end of the day Jesus asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread that these may eat? Philip responded that hundred denarii wouldn’t be enough money to buy enough bread so that each person could have even a small bite. Jesus said, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” In other words, take an inventory. It’s at this point that Andrew pointed out a small boy who has two fish and five barley loaves. If I had been there I think I would have asked Andrew what he was thinking. Five loaves and two fish in the face of feeding five thousand is insignificant and insufficient. That is . . . until you put it in the hands of Jesus. When heavens math kicks in, 5 loaves plus 2 fish = 5000. In Matthew 14:18 reports that Jesus said, “Bring them to me.” They brought the loaves and fish to Jesus and you know what happened. Jesus prayed, broke the bread and fish into pieces and fed 5000 men plus women and children. Was there something special about the number of loaves and fish? Apparently not. When Jesus fed the four thousand He used seven loaves and a few small fish. Why didn’t Jesus feed them another way? Why not a different menu? Couldn’t He have caused manna to fall from heaven? Couldn’t He have caused steak and potatoes to appear out of nowhere? Maybe throw in a salad? Sure. He could have. Instead He decided to have them take inventory of what they had available. Why? Because God desires for us to give Him what we have as an expression of faith. He involves us in His work. God works with what we have. In the story of Elijah and the widow He used flour and oil. Moses gave God his staff. God used David’s sling to slay a giant. Are you struggling in an area of your life because you are lacking provision? Take inventory and place what you have in God’s hands. *Having four parallel accounts to read is exciting because it helps with something I call discovery. After praying for insight, I enter into a time of discovery with any passage that I study. Discovery involves researching the passage by looking at the context and reading other passages that speak to the main idea(s) of the passage being studied. Discovery is also where I ask the “who, what, when, where and how” questions. The process is fun and challenging, plus it usually yields inspired results.