As I write this, I’m reading through the Bible again in two different but simultaneous ways: in my church’s Bible reading emphasis, Turning the Year Around… 180 Days in the New Testament, and in my own personal Bible study which is currently in the Old Testament. At about the same time in both Testaments, I read about two unnamed lads: In Judges 16:26, a young lad led Sampson out of prison and to the temple of Dagon where over 3000 men and women were partying in drunken stupor. You know the story. But what about that unnamed boy, mentioned only this one time? For the most part, we have overlooked him.
Raised in an immoral and idolatrous culture, all he knew was a pagan lifestyle and how to hurt people and how to offer sacrifices to the gods – and very likely human sacrifices, like Sampson. Desensitized to debauchery, he knew his way around the prison and the palace. The sights and smells of those places were putrid and repugnant. This was all he knew. This was his norm.
Then there’s the young lad in John 6:9 who gave Jesus five loaves and two fish to feed over 5000 people (most were adults who apparently forgot to bring something to eat!). You know the story. But what about this unnamed boy, also mentioned only one time (the story is recorded in the other Gospels but with no reference to the boy)? For the most part, we have overlooked him, too.
He must have had some kind of faith training at home that caused him to be drawn to Jesus. Maybe mom and grandma taught him about Jehovah God, like Timothy’s maternal kin did for him. Maybe dad schooled him in the way of a Godly man – how to share his catch and how to care for others, like Zebedee did for his two sons, James and John.
The bottom line: Sampson’s lad went to hell, having worshiped Dagon, a false god who could not hold up the pillar of his own temple (the truth is, it could do or say nothing, of course). Jesus’ lad went to heaven, having served alongside Christ Himself, the True God who holds up pillars of faith, like that of a little boy who gave the Lord all that he had.
I can’t help but believe that when Jesus saw the multitude coming to Him, He had His eye on that boy the whole time – a holy, magnetic gaze that drew the young man to the Master’s side. After all, the Bible says that Jesus knew what He was going to do the whole time (John 6:6). Maybe the lad overheard Jesus questioning Philip about how they would feed so many people and he elbowed his way to the Way. I mean, how else could Andrew have found the kid so quickly among the thousands?
The reality of the outcomes of both lads and their actions is simple: One was raised to know and serve the world and the ungodly ways of it. The other was raised to know and serve the living Lord and His righteous ways. Both are telling examples of the choice we adults must make in mentoring and moulding boys and girls into future men and women of God.
For my part, I’ve released into the world a little boy raised to be a capable and caring young man, maturing into a great and Godly man, who came alongside Jesus with all that he had to offer. Go get ‘em, son.