Summary: We have a story before us that has been told and retold, and from which numerous lessons have been drawn. It is the only miracle which Jesus did that is recorded in each of the four Gospel accounts, Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6.
WHAT THE LAD HAD.
John 6: 1-14
Int. We have a story before us that has been told and retold, and from which numerous lessons have been drawn. It is the only miracle which Jesus did that is recorded in each of the four Gospel accounts, Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6. Luke tells us that it was late in the afternoon. Matthew and Mark mention that it took place shortly after Herod had ordered that John the Baptist be put to death. John points out that it was just before the Feast of the Passover.
This is the only place in the record of Jesus’ life on earth that He asked anyone for his advice. We never find Him consulting anyone in any other place. He asked Phillip where they could purchase some bread for the crowd that was gathered there. Phillip did not answer the question as to the “where.” Phillip’s answer was, in effect, “what is the use of talking about the where, when we have no money to buy bread.
John inserts an amazing statement just here. “He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” Phillip was so focused on the crowd that he seemed to forget Who he was with.
Andrew, who was standing nearby, picked up the conversation. He shared that there was a lad there who had five small barley loaves and two small fish. Then he added, “but how far will they go among so many?” On the one had, Andrew made a venture in faith, but then, he seemed to find amusement in his own suggestion. Phillip’s answer was direct and was perfectly honest, and Andrew’s was probably aimed at bringing a little laughter among the disciples. Jesus did not criticize either of the two men, not did He say any unkind word to them. What He did say, was as if He responded to Andrew, and said, “Andrew, you’ve solved the problem. “ He actually did say, “Have the people sit down.”
There was much grass in the place. As already said, this is in harmony with the note of time conveyed in ver. 4. Mark speaks of the people sitting down “upon the green grass” — this is a vivid touch from an eyewitness; Matthew also speaks of the grass. Mark and Luke add another memorable feature which John does not include. The men were distinguished from a more general word, which may have included the “women and children,” who in no great numbers probably formed, according to Eastern custom, a company by themselves. The men sat down. The matter of the “number” is about five thousand. Luke says they sat, “in groups of fifty.” Mark first declares that Jesus ordered them to sit down in parties, and the result of which was as having the appearance of garden beds, of fifty or of a hundred each.
Then our Lord looked at the supply from which He would draw. Just a small lad with his little basket containing his lunch. Let us think about that lad and try to imagine what he must have thought when he realized that Jesus was asking for his lunch.
I. FEELINGS THE LAD MUST HAVE HAD.
Edersheim: “While all other meat offerings were of wheat, barley… is the food of animals.” Five small barley loaves would have been the bread of the poorest class of people. And two small fish. The use of this word is peculiar to our Gospel. Both Matthew, Luke and Mark use the ordinary word for “fish; “but John uses a word which means “relish,” that which is eaten with bread). This mostly consisted of small fish caught in the lake, which were dried, salted as “sardines” or “anchovies.”