Summary: This is part of a series on the Gospel of John.
INTRODUCTION: This is the fourth sign pointing to the deity of Jesus. This miracle is included in all four Gospels (See Mt.14:13-21; Mk. 6:30-44; Lk. 9:10-17). It held strong appeal, especially for those who had learned of Israel’s experience in the wilderness when God “rained down manna upon them to eat, and gave them food from heaven” (Ps. 78:24). This sign shows Jesus as the Supplier of physical needs (1 Cor. 10:3-5). He is the Living Bread (v. 51); True Bread of God (v. 33); True Bread out of heaven (v. 32). He is the one who daily feeds the whole world by creating harvest fields from a few grains. Christ always provides. The question is will we trust Him to provide our needs. Jesus is the hope of the Second Exodus, which leads to freedom from the slavery to sin.
1. The Place (1-3).
Jesus and His disciples were in the region of the Twelve which was along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The place offered a type of natural amphitheater. It was a beautiful place for Jesus to teach.
2. The Passover (4).
This sign took place just before Passover. This gives us a good idea that Jesus was probably into His public ministry at least a year. With Passover edging closer the people may have been thinking about the great feast. Little did they know the Passover Lamb was in their midst!
3. The People (5-6).
There were 5,000 men. Some commentators say that with the women and children it could easily have been 10K, 15K, or 20K people. They were following Jesus because of the signs (miracles).
4. The Problem (7).
The multitude of people were listening to Jesus and the disciples observed that there was no food for them to eat. Getting late in the day they wanted to dismiss the crowd. The only food available was a bag lunch that a lad had brought. At least he thought about making preparations for the daily bread he would need. Can you imagine being the only one with food in the midst of 5,000 hungry men? I think I would hide my food. His food was confiscated – emanate domain of sorts.
5. The Provision (8-13).
It may have been just a lad’s bag lunch but remember “little is much when God is in it.” Jesus took the five barley loaves and two small fish and blessed them. Five is the number of grace and two is the number of witness. Five and two make seven which is the perfect number or number of completion. However, Jesus was not adding but multiplying! The miracle of provision took place as the disciples were serving the multitude. There were twelve baskets full remaining. Jesus instructed the disciples to gather the remaining food. It was not a “doggy bag” for the disciples. These basket were most likely bushel baskets. It would be more than enough for the disciples. On a side note… where did the baskets come from? Perhaps, Jesus had a part in that as well… could be one of the many unmentioned signs (20:30).
6. The Prophet (14-15).
After the miracle took place the multitude wanted to seize Jesus and make Him their king. They desired an earthly king that could and would stop the Roman oppression. Jesus came as Prophet, Priest, and King. He withdrew because the purpose of His birth was not to save the Israelites from Rome but to save the world from sin. Moses spoke of another prophet coming after him and that they should listen to him. Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy.
CONCLUSION: The Lord loves to supply our needs! There are several things we can learn from this fourth sign. God tests our faith with challenges to do the impossible. According to Philip and the rest of the disciples feeding the multitude was impossible. God often ministers through weakness. He does not select strong people so that He can use their strengths. He does not select perfect people who always do things right in the eyes of men. He chooses weak and broken people so that He can demonstrate His power through their weakness. God is not limited by our experience or our resources. The disciples thought there was nothing that could be done. We frequently limit ourselves in the church. We say: “We’ve never done it this way before.” But, God delights in doing the unexpected.
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