Summary: Feeding of the 5000-Our nothing is enough
The Lord’s Provision
Faith Is Expectant Obedience (6:1–15)
When Jesus is in charge of a situation, available human resources are irrelevant.
Chapter 6 of John begins with hungry people, perhaps some of them living in poverty, but all of them expecting to eat. The crowds found Jesus the day after he had fed them with the bread and fish along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. But his opening statement penetrated to their real motives in seeking him: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill” (6:26).
There is another kind of food that should have had higher priority in their thinking. Jesus wanted them to seek him for himself, not for what he could do for them. Eternal life is not the reward of work; it is always and only a free gift.
Just as it is difficult to motivate starving people to think about spiritual things, it is also difficult to motivate people who eat well to transfer their attention to something other than what they are eating. But he emphasized throughout the chapter that spiritual food and drink come directly from Jesus.
His comment about this being near the time of the Passover highlights the deeper meaning of this occasion. “A feast of the Jews,” he calls it, once again to help his Gentile audience (v. 4). Jesus could not deal with this great throng of hungry people without being deeply conscious of the time and setting. The sanctity of the Passover supper had been a part of His life since early boyhood. He was well aware that the most perfect animal available must be slain that its blood might be poured out on the horns of the altar and its flesh become the food His family would eat together. The memory of the Baptist’s ringing cry by the river, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World!” (John 1:29), identifying Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice must have surged through Him as He dealt with this crowd.
6:1–4. The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four Gospels.
Some scholars estimate there may have been as many as seven thousand to ten thousand people, since verse 10 talks about five thousand men. As we shall see, this chapter is about faith, but these people wanted food. Jesus talked about spiritual relationship, but the crowds were interested in physical showmanship. They focused on the lunch, not the love; on their bellies, not their beliefs.
Our passage first centers on people in need. Starvation is a stark and unpleasant reality in our modern world. Ten percent of the world’s babies die before their first birthday, and one of every four children suffers from malnutrition. Yet the problem of spiritual hunger is even more severe. Like the people gathering on the mountainside in Galilee, millions today need the living bread that only Jesus can provide.
At first we wonder why Philip was singled out, but then we remember he was a native of Bethsaida, possibly the closest town. If a local convenience store had been open at that hour, Philip would have known about it. Nevertheless, Philip did a quick assessment of what it would cost for each one to have a bite!