This week we are going to study John 6:1-13. So let’s read the passage, “After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.”
More than Five Thousand
In John 6:1-13, this passage is John’s account of the feeding of the five thousand. The feeding of the five thousand is one of the only miracles outside of the resurrection of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels. As we talked about last week, Jesus’ signs testified that He is the Messiah and the Son of God. So, it is not a mistake that one of the most witnessed miracles of Jesus’ ministry was after Jesus had said that His signs were a testimony as to who He is. It is also important because of what is coming next in the life of Jesus and in the Gospel of John. Let’s talk about the context of this miracle, the location of this miracle was across the Sea of Galilee. It was almost time for the Passover, which was a celebration when the Jews would all go down to Jerusalem. This was one of the reasons so many were following Jesus; the other was because the signs and words of Jesus were spreading quickly and they wanted to see Him and hear His words. At this miracle, there would have been more than five thousand in the crowd, but because of the time period when this happened they only counted the men and not the women and children, so most conserved estimates put the crowd size at somewhere between ten thousand and twenty thousand.
A Time of Rest
This trip across the sea for Jesus and His disciples was supposed to be a time of rest and reconnection with the Father, but instead, it turned into one of the most witnessed miracles. They were taking this trip, because Jesus and His disciples had found out that John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and prerunner, had been beheaded and the disciples had just gotten back from their own mission trip through Israel. Which may have been another reason for such large crowds. Jesus and the disciples likely crossed by boat, as they often did, whereas the crowd likely walked around the sea and when passing through various towns and villages they picked up more and more people, because of Who they were going to see. This should be the same for us today, as we pursue our relationship with Jesus, we should be telling others about Him and attracting more and more people to follow Jesus. The disciples were expecting to have a break from ministry and a time to reconnect with each other and Jesus. However, Jesus had other plans because John says that Jesus already knew what He was going to do (John 6:6). This is an example of Jesus’ omniscience (knowing everything, even things that have not happened yet). This is also an example of what Proverbs 16:9 says, we plan our course, but the Lord determines our steps. So often we do not leave time for Jesus to move in our lives, much less in our church services. We should remember that it is not bad to plan, in fact, it is good, but it is good to remember that we make plans, but God determines our steps.
The passage then says that Jesus turns to Philip and asks him where can we buy bread for all these people. Two reasons He did this was because they were near Philip’s hometown of Bethsaida. In fact, they may have passed the tree that Philip was setting under, before Jesus called Him (John 1:48). The second reason was to test Philip, who had seen Him turn water into wine, along with all the other signs Jesus had accomplished. Philip responded that two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each to get a little. One denarii was the average day’s wage. What he was telling Jesus was that it was not possible to buy enough bread for all these people. Maybe because Philip was back where he grew up, he forgot Who he was talking to. Because, if we’re honest we all have places where we put mental limits to Jesus’ power, this may have been one of Philips.
You have All You Need
Then we see that Andrew steps forward to say there is a young boy who has a lunch of five barley loaves and two small fish. There are several opinions as to who the boy was, some think that he may have been one who traveled with them often. Others think that he was just a boy who came to Andrew to offer his lunch. Either way, we see that the boy was poor, because barley was the bread of the poor, this may have been the only meal he would have for the day or even several days. But yet he freely offered his lunch to Jesus. What do you have that you can give to Jesus? You may not have a huge following, you may not have a lot of money, you may think you are not old enough or too old to be used by Jesus. There are so many things that you think hinder you from serving Jesus, when in truth, God does not want you to wait until you have this or are a certain age to serve Him. He has given you all you need, to do what He is calling you to. What are you waiting for, there will always be excuses not to serve Him. No, it won’t be easy, in fact, it will most likely be hard, but you will never regret giving your all to Jesus, whether that is just making Him Lord of your life or accepting the calling He has placed upon your life.
Bread of Life
Jesus then tells the disciples to have the crowd sit down. When they did, Jesus thanked the Father for what they had and broke the bread and fish. Then the disciples took the bread and fish and gave it to the crowd, as much as they wanted. The bread that Jesus serves never runs out. Jesus gives the Bread of Life to anyone who wants Him, as much as they want. We will talk about the Bread of Life at length in a couple of weeks, but for now, know that everyone who wants the Bread of Life will receive it. The Bread of Life is Salvation and the reason we need Salvation is because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the penalty for sin is death (Romans 3:24, 6:23). If you would like to live forever with Jesus, all you have to do is to admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins (repent means turn away), believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and God raised Him from the dead, then confess Him as Lord and Savior of your life (Romans 10:9).
Once everyone had their fill, the disciples were asked to gather the leftovers, when they were finished they had twelve baskets. Jesus provided abundantly for the crowd. I think we should remember that Jesus gives generously to all and this also allowed the disciples to have food as they continue their journey. So this week remember, that right now, God has provided you with exactly what you need to complete the mission He is calling you to. Also this week, know that we can make our plans, but God determines our steps, so we should make room in our lives for Him to move. If you have not accepted Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life, do it today, because there is no better time than now.
Check out the other blogs in this series A Study through the Gospel of John