Only a pot of oil?

The widow was distraught. A creditor was coming, and she had no money to pay him. He was threatening to take her sons to work off the debt. She asked for help from the prophet Elisha. According to this familiar Bible story, Elisha didn't ask for particulars. What he did ask was "What hast thou in the house?" (II Kings 4:2). The women replied that she had nothing but a pot of oil. It was obvious that she didn't think the oil was going to be of help in her predicament. But Elisha told her to pour the oil into empty pots and, after she had filled them, to sell the oil, pay off her debt, and live on what was left.

Centuries later, Christ Jesus was preaching to a large crowd in the countryside. As the day drew to a close, his disciples suggested that the people be sent away so they could get food. But Jesus said simply, "Give ye them to eat" (Luke 9:13). The disciples explained that they only had five loaves of bread and two fish. Undaunted, Jesus took the food and, "looking up to heaven" (Luke 9:16), blessed it and gave it to the disciples to pass out to the thousands of people before him. Everyone was fed, and there were baskets of food left over.

January 22, 1996

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