The first time I saw the miracle man, he was standing on the shores calling out to Philip. His other disciples, Andrew and Peter, were already with him.
I can’t tell you what fascinated me most about the miracle man. Was it that he publicly cursed our hometown – claiming that if the miracles that were performed here were to be at Tyre & Sidon, they would have repented long ago? Or maybe I was intrigued by the rumours that he had conversed with a Samaritan woman in broad daylight? Perhaps I was challenged by the insult, or it could be that the man just gave me that glimmer of hope – that if he bothered to care for a Samaritan woman…then, maybe, there is hope for the nobodies like me?
Father, however, was not impressed with my interest in the miracle man.
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” he questioned. Besides, he reasoned, if the miracle man really is a prophet, what was he doing in a small fishing town like ours? Now, he had a point there. Bethsaida, sitting quietly at the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee, is a rather uneventful sort of town housing the most ordinary of men like us – the commoners, the down-to-earths, the nobodies, whose biggest ambition in life is to mind our own business and keep to our Jewish traditions. Nothing ever changes in this place, and we are happy for it to remain this way.
And then there’s me. I am not yet eleven, the youngest in my family, who is the least amongst my kinsman, who is the most insignificant of our clan. They seldom bothered with my name – I’m simply “the little boy”.
When I heard that the miracle man was retreating with his disciples to that quiet side of the hills, curiosity got the better of me. Something in me compelled me to meet him. I wanted to know if it was true - all the hearsays about the healings, and all those stories and parables I overheard the grown ups whispering behind closed doors. Just one encounter would do for me – and then I’d settle for that ordinary life back in Bethsaida, to mind my own business, and to keep to the ways of our forefathers.
One encounter would suffice.
So I sneaked in amongst the crowd of people heading to see him, with the best offering I could bring wrapped securely, held close to my chest.
When we got there, the miracle man was already surrounded by the multitudes. I waded through the sea of people – layers and layers of them, until…until I beheld him with my very own eyes! Those eyes that shined bright like the sun radiated warmth, compassion and mercy; those arms that were sturdy as the strongest of trees were so ready to embrace and welcome. For what seemed like eternity, I simply stood in awe.
Until I melted into shame. Miracle Man versus mini me. A man like that – what would he do with me, and with my petty offering? It would never be good enough – I would never be good enough. Perhaps Father was right after all – why should someone important care for us in tiny, insignificant Bethsaida? A thousand voices inside urged me to turn away and scurry home with my pitiful gift.
Yet, there was another voice. It’s too small...It’s your best'. I’m a no-body...He loves you. I should go home...Go forward. I’m too scared...Take a step of faith.
I gulped, as I stepped forward and handed my offering up to one of his disciples.
What could Jesus possibly do with my five loaves and two fishes?
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