Last week we discussed that there are many paradoxes in scripture. We used the illustration of the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven being like a little child (Matthew 18:4). One of the most clear ways this can work is the great amount of good that can be done with just a little. 1 Kings 17 talks about Elijah, the great prophet of God, being fed by a widow and her son by only a little bit of food they had left. God blessed them all by her being willing to share her last meal with Elijah. But there are a few more very clear instances in which God does great things with only a little.
One of my favorite illustrations of this if found in John 6:5-14, “Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” 10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.”
If you look at the other accounts of this in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it is not said that the little boy brought those items of food with him. It seems though that the apostles who were there were very much aware of how much food everyone had, which was not very much. It could have been that they were trying to plan out the day and prepare for everyone to eat but had given up hope when they saw only that little amount. Jesus is said to be testing them by asking about the food in the first place, showing us they should have had enough faith to trust in Him to provide it all along.
The application for us from this is not only that God can do much with little, but also we need to have the faith in God to know that He will.