Summary: A series exploring the seven miracles and seven "I Am" statements in the Gospel of John. This messages reflects on what we can learn about Jesus from the feeding of the 5,000.
(Read today’s passage.)
This is the only miracle outside the final week of Jesus’ life recorded in all four Gospels.
This particular day, in all likelihood, began with the news of the death of John the Baptist. Jesus has lost a dear friend.
As the day progressed, the disciples began returning to Jesus from their short-term missionary journeys.
And as the disciples are returning to Jesus, they are being followed by five thousand men and their families.
With me so far? Jesus gets the devastating news that John the Baptist has been beheaded. He sees the return of his disciples. They are all juiced up and wired after their exploits of healing and miracle working. But 5,000 men, plus their wives and children have decided to tag along with the disciples back to see Jesus. So Jesus tries to get away from the crowd by crossing the sea.
Makes sense. He probably needs some time to sort things out. He might want some time alone with his disciples to talk about what they have seen and learned. But when they get across the water, they find that the crowd has journeyed around by land, and is waiting for them on the other side.
Now, this miracle contains four points of identity. Four groups or people that we might empathize with, or we are able to relate to. The first is. . .
1. THE CROWD
What do we know about the crowd?
They were following Jesus because of the miracles He was doing. (v. 2)
They were disengaged, and seemed to leave all the work to the disciples.
They were focused on an earthly agenda rather than heavenly mission (John 6:15)
Descriptor – Selfish
“Feed me, care for me, heal me, teach me!” Take, take, take.
So the disciples do what most of us would probably do, and they look at Jesus and say, “Send the crowds away! We’ve taught them. We’ve healed them. We’ve accommodated their every need. Now they’re getting hungry. If we don’t send them away, they are going to want us to feed them on top of everything else.”
So Jesus turns to Philip and asks a rather interesting question. “Where can we buy enough bread for all these people to eat?” Now, keep in mind that Philip has just come off a mission trip where he has been forcing out demons and healing all kinds of sickness and disease, so we might expect him to be optimistic. A bit of faith would seem appropriate. He’s just spent several weeks seeing the impossible happen. But how does Philip respond?
Verse 7 (read). Philip says, “We would all have to work a month to buy enough bread for each person to have only a little piece.” Interesting response, isn’t it? Rather than looking to God for the miracle, he’s looking in his wallet.
And look at some of the words from the other disciples. Like these recorded in Mark’s account, “No one lives in this place and it is already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the countryside and towns around here to buy themselves something to eat.” (Mark 6:35–36) It does not even seem to cross the disciples’ minds that they might be the solution to the problem.