John 6:1-4 Some time
after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the
Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a
great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed
by healing the sick. 3 Then
Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
in the past chapter Jesus spoke mostly to Jewish officials who were out to get
Him. We don’t know how much time passed between then and the current scene set
in the north of Galilee, but instead of people who openly opposed Him, Jesus
now spoke to people who were interested in Him: the Passover pilgrims who had
heard of Jesus’ miracles, casual disciples who wanted to benefit from Him and
the 12 disciples He chose to walk with Him.
Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke fill in the background details of this next miracle.
Jesus and His disciples needed to rest. Only recently Herod had executed John
the Baptist, who remember was also Jesus’ cousin. (And some of Jesus’ disciples
had first been John’s disciples.) Plus, the crowds were relentless.
time was the Jewish Passover, springtime in Israel. Most Jewish men as well as
their families traveled to Jerusalem for it, but Jesus decided not to this
year. He was in Galilee, too far away for the temple to require Him to be
there. Instead they went to the hill country above the Sea of Galilee, known
today as the Golan Heights.
men borrowed or rented a boat. They rowed across the lake to the opposite shore
near where the Jordan River flows into the lake at its north end. Many people
saw Jesus leave Capernaum with His disciples. There were a lot of pilgrims out
and word spread quickly. People in the western towns began walking around the
northern shore in search of Jesus. Pilgrims to Jerusalem who took the eastern
route to avoid Samaria, would have joined in. Some of the Gospels said these
people ran (about 9 miles) to see Him!
lot of these people were sick and wanted to have Jesus heal them. And He of
course had compassion for them. So, He gave up His own rest, went up the slope
and sat down.
signaled the crowd that He intended to teach them. And of course He did much
more than that!
John 6:5-9 5 When Jesus
looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where
shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he
already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a
year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s
brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a
boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go
among so many?”
The other Gospels speak of
the disciples’ concern to send the crowd away to find food for themselves
before it became too dark. John, the only Gospel to mention Passover, jumps
from the mention of that feast to this
feast the Lord Jesus provides. An unexpected gift to 5000 hungry men, plus
women and children. (Probably 20,000 people total).
Jesus needed no help to feed
the crowd. Remember God sending the Israelites Manna from Heaven? But He had
the disciples get involved and help so they would learn how much they could
accomplish working with Jesus. The question He asked Philip was “to test him.”
Philip figured out what it
would take and it would have been humanly impossible for them. But the
disciples needed to clearly hear that first.
Phillip looked at how large
the problem was. And Andrew focused on how small their resources were. Both of
them had been at the wedding in Cana. Probably even drank some of the wine
Jesus made… They witnessed many
The boy with the loaves and
fish must have been poor because that was peasant food. Bread made with barley
flour. The 5 loaves would have been small, round flatbread, kind of like a
pancake! The fish would have been small also – just enough to flavor the bread.
There have been a lot of
sermons about this boy. Bringing all that you have – little though it is – to
the Lord and God multiplying it.
6:10-13 10 Jesus said, “Have the
people sit down.” There was
plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were
there). 11 Jesus
then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as
much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his
disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over.
Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they
gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley
loaves left over by those who had eaten.
Other Gospels tell that it
was the 12 Disciples who distributed the meal. Wouldn’t you have liked to have
been there? How does 5 loaves of bread, each the size of a pancake and 2 fish
even get passed out to 12 Disciples to begin with? What did this look like?
But the lesson is: God can do
ANYTHING! At ANYTIME! And He does it lavishly! Everyone ate til they were
satisfied and then there were lots of leftovers!
John 6::14-15 14 After the
people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the
Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus,
knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again
to a mountain by himself.
Remember it was Passover, so
the thoughts of the crowd jumped to Moses and Israel’s time in the wilderness.
When God gave them manna. Now, here they were in the wilderness without food
and Jesus provided. So they thought this must be the Prophet that Moses talked
about. It was believed that Messiah would come and reign from Jerusalem and
lead the nations of the world. (Which He will one day!)
But at that time the miracle
was meant to show Christ’s divine authority and the compassion of God, not a
government official passing out free food.
They were ready to crown Him
king though if it meant never worrying about food anymore.
The world wants us to
conform. Jesus shows us the example of what to do when that happens. He goes up
into the mountain and pours His heart out in prayer to God. Only God can
strengthen us against temptation. We all really really need alone time with
Labels: feeding the 5000, Jesus, The Gospel of John