When Andrew asked concerning the five loaves of bread and two small fish, “What are these among so many?” the question was simple. It is nothing. The bread we provide cannot satisfy the multitudes. In fact, bread, though a good gift of God, is a sign of our fall into sin. “You shall eat bread by the sweat of your brow,” is what God said to fallen Adam (Gen 3:19). We toil for our daily bread, and we still cannot satisfy fully.
But by multiplying the bread and fish, Christ shows from whom it is we receive our daily bread in the first place. He is God, the provider of all good things. Even what he makes us toil to receive is a gift. As he caused the fish to hatch from their eggs and grow, he caused the barley and wheat to sprout up. Therefore, in Christ, toiling to earn our daily bread turns into a blessing, as we learn to trust not in our merits nor on our own understanding, but on Christ who has already showered us with all good things. Christ’s disciples try to talk numbers with him, as if money and budgets have anything to do with what he provides.
Instead, Christ has us give even when we have nothing. He teaches us not to fret over our puny five loaves and two fish, whether this is a small pocketbook or bank account, or a lack of physical ability. He frees you from such bondage by teaching you that man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. He teaches you to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and he satisfies you fully by taking your sin away. He, therefore, teaches us that the bread with which we help our neighbor, each according to his own measure, is the fragment of what Christ has given us in his abundant generosity. When his generosity is what rules our minds, then such charity is done in freedom, not in fear. This is why Christ departed when they wanted to make him king, because his is not an earthly reign. His reign is in righteousness and peace and the Holy Spirit. When this rules your heart, then the fear of losing what is earthly is puny compared to the joy of loving your neighbor and hearing the gospel proclaimed.