He Asked for All the Fish

Have you ever wondered why?

The Bible records two separate instances where Jesus miraculously fed thousands and thousands of people with only a handful of loaves and fish. In both accounts, the end result is a stuffed multitude and baskets and baskets of leftovers. And that’s the main focus of the miracle—Jesus Christ’s ability to do the impossible, over and over again.

But recently, when I read those accounts, something jumped out at me. When the disciples told Jesus, “We have here only five loaves and two fish” (Matthew 14:17), His response was, “‘Bring them here to Me.’ … And He took the five loaves and the two fish” (Matthew 14:18-19).

That was it. That was the sum total of their available provisions. Christ tells them to feed the multitude, and they tell Him, “How can we? Look, this is all we’ve got!”

So Jesus says, “Give it to Me.”

The second account follows the same theme. A hungry crowd of four thousand is following Jesus, and all the disciples have on hand is seven loaves “and a few little fish” (Matthew 15:34). And again, Jesus “took the seven loaves and the fish” (Matthew 15:36).


Why did Jesus ask for everything?

Did He need five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people? Did He need seven loaves and a few fish to feed four thousand people? Couldn’t He have done it with one of each?

Couldn’t He have done it with none of each?

And the answer is… yeah. Of course He could have. He created the universe out of nothing; catering a meal for a few thousand people wasn’t somehow beyond His ability.

And yet, both times, He asked for all the loaves. He asked for all the fish. And He used those loaves and those fish to provide so much abundance that the starving crowds were able to take up “large baskets full of the fragments that were left” (Matthew 15:37; cf. Matthew 14:20).

Because that’s how it works, isn’t it?

In our lives, in our calling, God doesn’t ask us for a token gesture. He doesn’t ask us to give up just a little bit of ourselves.

He asks us for everything.

It’s not that He needs it. Of course He doesn’t need it. “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool,” He tell us. “Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?” (Isaiah 66:1).

But He asks for it all the same—because we need it.

It’s right there in the terms and conditions: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

When we make the commitment to follow God, we don’t get to keep any part of ourselves back. We don’t get to say, “You can do whatever You want with most of me, but this part, this loaf, this fish, I’m keeping it and You can’t have it.” It’s all or nothing. Try to keep it, try to hold onto it, and we lose everything.

But when we hand it over…

When we hand it over, the impossible happens. If Jesus can turn a handful of fish and bread into dinner for thousands with baskets of leftovers, what can He do with your life? When we let go of the illusion that somehow we’re the ones best suited to guide and direct our own lives, when we hand over the reins to God and keep nothing back, He gives us so much more than we gave to Him.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

The Bible is full of stories of people who fought God on that—who tried to reap His blessings without giving Him control. Samson did it. Ananias and Sapphira did it. Simon the sorcerer did it. Judas did it. We know how those stories go; we know how they end.

But the Bible is also full of stories of people who did the opposite—who submitted to God’s will, albeit imperfectly at times, and let Him lead them. Abraham did it. Sarah did it. Moses did it. Stephen did it. Paul did it. Samson (eventually) did it. And we know how those stories go, too. We know that now they’re awaiting a better resurrection, that “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).

All or nothing. That’s how this works. That’s how this has always worked.

We serve a God who asks for all the fish.

Until next time,

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