Summary: Christ is not only the provider of all our needs, He Himself is the Provision.
The feeding of the five thousand is an account from the ministry of Jesus with which most, if not all, of us are very familiar.
It is significant to note that it is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded by all four gospel writers. Even John, who wrote his gospel some years after the other three, and therefore left out much of the historical information they had already covered, chose to give his own record of this day.
Now, I can’t say that I can come up with a reason for it, but John is the only one who specifically names the disciples who played key roles in this miracle.
They are Philip and Andrew. Now there is another thing of significance worthy of mention, and that is the different way that each one, Philip and Andrew, responded to the situation. We will discuss that later.
For now, let’s sharpen our focus to verses 5 & 6 and see what message there is for us there.
John has opened this chapter pointing out that the feast of the Passover was at hand. The Passover is the largest and holiest of the Jewish holy days, and it was the time when Jews from all over the civilized world would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem -bringing their lamb for sacrifice or buying it there- and stay for the holidays.
So here we see Jesus, going up a hill with His disciples, possibly for a rest while on their own way to Judea for the feast.
But there were many others traveling that way also, and by now the word was spreading rapidly that there was a Rabbi in Israel who many saw as a prophet. He spoke as no other man spoke; as One having authority; not as the scribes, whose teaching contained much speculation and theory and debate.
Many were asking, “Could this be the long-awaited Messiah?”
But more importantly, at least to the multitudes, was that the word was, He was doing miracles. He was healing sickness and casting out demons. They wanted to see.
So Jesus, sitting down to rest and spend time with the disciples, looks up and takes notice of a great multitude of people, who have also left their journeying to follow Him there.
Immediately, as was so typical of Him, His heart is filled with compassion.
Matthew wrote in his gospel that Jesus had compassion for the multitudes because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.
Marvel, will you, at the great love and mercy of our Lord, who, filled with compassion for the lost sheep, thinks first of their comfort...meeting their needs, before His own.
I want you to notice also, His mastery at seizing every opportunity to teach His disciples.
Our Lord has much to teach us, brothers and sisters, in the everyday events and circumstances. No matter how ordinary or mundane we may see them, if we are sensitive to His voice, we would often see opportunities throughout our day to learn more about Him and His ways.
Today, it was Philip’s turn. “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?”
Philip’s chin must have bounced off his sandals!
“Where? WHERE are we to buy bread? Well, that’s hardly the question, Lord.
Here we are, near the Southwest shore of the sea of Galilee, sitting on a hillside to rest from our journey...
...quite frankly Lord, I was just wondering to myself if we had enough food in our own bags to get the twelve of us to Jerusalem.
So let’s talk a little sense here...”
Now, we can’t be too critical of Philip, can we? That is precisely how we think. Jesus lays it on our heart to do something, or maybe He sends someone to us to suggest some area of ministry for us to become involved in, and the first thing we do is think of all the reasons that we can’t do it! Or reasons that it won’t work!
Well, OUR church doesn’t have the money to do that!
We only have about 20 people who attend on a regular basis; what can WE do?
We don’t have room! We don’t have supplies!
or we personalize our excuses...
I have a lot of other obligations! I’m just trying to pay the bills and keep food on the table!
Lord, do you know what a dweeb my husband is? Do you think he’s going to cooperate with my devoting my time to the church?
Lord, my wife expects me to be with her during the few hours each week that I’m not busting my chops on my job!
That’s a long way to drive! My car is in bad shape!
Oh, it goes on and on, doesn’t it? I think that some of our most inventive, imaginative moments in life, are when we’re making excuses in our mind for not following Christ in ministry.