Many Americans have seen the movie Hidden Figures. It is rated among the top five films viewed on video. Although it features the story of three African American females, 45 percent of those who’ve seen it in the United States are White, and 37 percent are Black.
With the help of 15 seminarians, we used “Hidden Figures” as our theme for the Grace Place fourth annual evangelism series and Vacation Bible School that attracted 50 parents and children (June 2-9, 2018). Each meeting we presented stories of the lives and livelihoods of men and women mentioned only once in the inspired word of God, supported by our 28 Fundamental Beliefs. We ended with the ultimate Hidden Figure, Jesus Christ (aka hidden manna [Rev. 2:17]). Many unchurched attendees responded.
We told the story of the lad reported in all four Gospels, but based on John 6:1-9, and learned that God uses ordinary people who are willing to do as He commands.
The story begins with Jesus being followed by a large crowd eager to see more miracles. Jesus had compassion for them. To Him, they seemed as sheep without a shepherd.
No one is too small or unimportant to be part of the Messiah’s redemptive plan.
Jesus’ disciple Philip had a mathematical attitude toward life. To test him Jesus asked, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5). But Philip had forgotten the resources of Jesus and His power of multiplication or simple addition and missed the opportunity to affirm the Lord’s ability. Apart from the resurrection, this is the only miracle found in all four Gospels. And the lad, the central character, is mentioned only in John’s Gospel, perhaps because no one in the crowd, even Andrew who found him, thought he mattered much. No one imagined that he carried in his basket the basis for one of the most significant miracles in Jesus’ ministry.
Perhaps the boy’s anonymity is because John didn’t intend to focus only on feeding 5,000 men and countless women and children, but to teach us that the smallest human resource, when linked with divine power, becomes omnipotent. This boy, with two fish and five barley loaves, was chosen by God to show us that no one is too small or unimportant to be part of the Messiah’s redemptive plan. The message of that sacred moment is that every man, woman, and child who trusts in Jesus becomes much when surrendered to Him.
Praise God who uses ordinary people like that un--named boy who, from the viewpoint of social position, was so poor that his bread was made from barley, cheaper than wheat. In those days barley was the ordinary, coarse black bread of Galilean peasants. The loaves were likely very small, and the fish were probably the size of sardines that fishermen often threw away; yet the poor picked them up to dress their dry loaves. God used them to feed more than 5,000 people.
God uses ordinary people and things to accomplish extraordinary feats in His kingdom. “Who dares despise the day of small things?” asked the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 4:10).
Jesus can make much out of very little. Imagine what He can do with you!
Hyveth Williams is a professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.