Asher watched the stream of people walking by his kitchen window and urged his mom to pack his lunch faster.
“Now Asher, you have to make this food last. It’s all I have for you till tomorrow.” Asher’s mom finished packing the five barley loaves and two small fish in Asher’s bag. “If Jesus is still teaching when the sun goes down, don’t travel back alone.”
“Ok, Mom! Don’t worry!” Asher kissed her cheek, snatched his bag and dashed out the front door to join the throng of people.
Everyone was so excited to see the Healer in person, perhaps be healed themselves, that no one seemed to notice just how far out in the country they were walking. By the time Asher realized just how hungry he was, it was already hours past lunch. He looked around for a place to sit and eat, but the crowd was thick and seemed to be getting more restless. He hopped up and down, searching over the heads of the tall men in front of him. There he was! The Healer and his men! Maybe if he could get closer, he could sit for a bit and still watch him.
Asher threaded and weaved his way through the crowds. Finally, he got so close, he could actually hear what the Healer and his men were talking about.
“Jesus, look how late it’s getting.”
“Ya, all these people still need to go back to the towns and eat and find a place to sleep.”
“Well, go ahead and feed them,” Jesus responded. Asher looked around for all the food Jesus was referring to.
“Are you kidding me? There are 5,000 men plus their families!”
“Do we even have that kind of money?”
Jesus looked around and his warm eyes rested on Asher’s. Asher’s heart leapt. “Go find out how much food there is,” Jesus told his men.
Asher looked down at his bag. His stomach growled and churned. Then he looked back up at Jesus and the doubtful faces of his men. One of the men headed in his direction. Asher stood up.
“Sir?” He waved his arm. The man walked over. Asher reached into his bag, pulled out all his food, and handed it to him. “I heard you talking. This is all I have.”
The man smiled down at Asher. “My name’s Andrew. Come with me.”
And he led Asher to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, this boy has offered five loaves and two fish.” Andrew handed the food to Jesus with a shrug.
Jesus and Andrew exchanged a smile, then Jesus whispered to Asher, “Watch this.”
Asher watched in wonder as Jesus instructed the large crowd to sit down in groups, then prayed, broke the loaves and distributed them and the fish between several baskets. Asher rubbed his eyes and blinked hard at the overflowing baskets. How was his lunch getting bigger and bigger?!
His stomach growled again and Jesus pointed to him as he handed Andrew one of the overflowing baskets. Asher took and ate some of the bread and fish. It was the sweetest, freshest tasting bread he’d ever eaten. When he finished, he looked up at the sky. His mom would be worried if he didn’t start for home. Several of the groups seated on the ground had risen and turned to go. Asher reluctantly stood and picked up his bag.
“Asher.” He turned around. Jesus was motioning him to come near.
“Do you know what your name means?” Jesus asked.
Asher smiled. “Yes! My name means ‘happy’ and ‘blessed.’”
Jesus put his hand on Asher’s shoulder. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Asher looked around for something else to give. He handed Jesus his empty bag and started removing his outer cloak. Jesus laughed and gently stopped him. “Go home to your mother. Tell her all about me and what you saw today. Remember me, Asher.”
Asher turned to go, looked back at Jesus one last time, then ran as fast as his tired legs would carry him. Laughter bubbled up. How would he ever explain this to mom? He caught up with a group of people he recognized from his village and they talked about everything they’d seen and heard as the sky’s blues melted into black.
Asher turned on to his street and glanced at the sky. The north star shone brighter than ever. He reached the door of his home and knew he’d found it. He’d found the Way. And it didn’t matter that all he had was his small lunch. Jesus had taken the humble offering and multiplied it beyond anything Asher could have imagined.