Summary: What is our goal? To be one of the 5,000 who were fed and listened for a time, or the 12 who lived the life they were called to?
“ 1Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. 3Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4The Jewish Passover Feast was near.”
There was a great crowd following Jesus because they had been seeing with their own eyes how he had healed the sick. This was in the spring, in March, as the Passover was drawing near – it is the most beautiful time for that part of the world – everything is coming into life after the brown and cold winter, very much like the spring in England – just warmer! The air full of birds, the earth turning green with new life.
“ 5When 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?" 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7Philip answered him, "Eight months’ wages[a] would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"
8Another 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?"
10Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus 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.
12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." 13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”
Now we could go into a deep spiritual exposition here about the meaning of this miracle, but this is not what I want to focus on today. I want to look at how the people reacted to Jesus. It is the human nature displayed in the Scripture which is important for us today.
I just want to put this into context a little bit. 5,000 people – how many is that? Well, the average village of the day was about 1,500 people. So we are talking about the same number of people as contained in about 3 ½ villages! So if you can imagine, this is the equivalent of most of our small town here, completely emptied and everyone gone to the beach to hear someone speak, because everyone had seen his healing miracles.
And look at what people are saying about Jesus after this miracle look there in verse 14 "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world."
Now note that the word prophet as a capital P here. That’s because there is also the implication here that He is the Messiah that all of Israel had been waiting for.
So, from what people had seen and experienced of Jesus – they followed him in droves and they recognised who he was, the Messiah – the saviour of the world.
Ok let’s read on.
“ 16When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19When they had rowed three or three and a half miles,[b] they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, "It is I; don’t be afraid." 21Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.”
This is one of the most supernatural events in all the accounts of Jesus – can you imagine how terrified these men would have been, there on the water, in the dark, with the wind getting stronger and the waves getting higher, and out of the roaring darkness comes the figure of a man walking across the water...
But to see this for real, must have been terrifying – to the point that they were clearly trying to escape – look what it says in verse 21 "Then they were willing to take him into the boat" – implying that until then they were certainly not willing! And this only happened after Jesus spoke to them and they recognised who he was. But also look at the last sentence of this bit and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. This is deep supernatural stuff, great miracles occurring.