Feeding of the Five Thousand
THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND
The verses that were read are commonly referred to as the “Feeding of the Five Thousand” and this is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible.
- For many of you this may have been the first story you ever heard in Bible School when you were a child; and some of you may be thinking, “Oh no, another sermon on the feeding of the 5000.”
Well it is. This is another sermon on the feeding of the 5000. But this story is important for several reasons.
- In this story Jesus performs another miracle. It is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all 4 gospels which tells me that there is something here that God wants us to learn.
And this miracle that Jesus performs is massive because of the sheer number of people who were participants of this miracle.
- When you consider vs. 10 says that there were 5000 men and when you add everyone up, the men, women, and children, you could have a crowd of between 20-25 thousand people.
- There is no other miracle that Jesus performs that involves more people. And those who were there didn’t just see it; they ate it.
- It is a miracle that was not debated. No one in this crowd of 20,000 plus people ever came back and said “This didn’t happen.”
This miracle has never been denied until more modern times when critics have decided that it really wasn’t a miracle at all. They say that what happened is a little boy gave up his lunch and said, “Wow, let’s all share.” And so everybody reached into their knapsacks and pulled out whatever they had and you had this great experience of sharing. (Mark 6:38)
- The only reason why critics would come up with that in their minds is to discredit the Bible and deny the deity of Jesus Christ.
- This miracle has never been legitimately denied.
All four gospel writers use this miracle of feeding of the 5 thousand to show and prove that Jesus is who He claimed to be.
- In fact, remember what John’s purpose is for recording the miracles found in his gospel, John 20:30-31:
Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
- So, like Matthew, Mark, and Luke, John records this miracle so that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
- That is why this story is here.
So this is a very familiar story; it is a massive miracle; it is an undeniable miracle; it is a very important story because is proves who Jesus is;
- But there is another reason why this story is so important. It is important because it is one of the most tragic and heartbreaking stories in the New Testament.
Now, in vs. 1, Jesus is no longer in Jerusalem like He was in chapter 5. He is now in Galilee and in this story He has gone to the “other side of the Sea of Galilee.”
- He has gone there for several different reasons.
One, He is very much aware that the Jewish leaders back in Jerusalem want to kill Him; He is also aware that John the Baptist has been executed (Matthew 14:13) so to avoid an untimely death He leaves Jerusalem and comes to Galilee.
- When He come to Galilee His home base is in Capernaum and while at Capernaum He has been very busy; He has been going around to the villages of Galilee and He has been healing and teaching and casting out demons and in the process He has been drawing huge crowds and so to get a break , to get some rest, He goes to the “other side of the sea.
- And Mark 6:30 tells us that His disciples had just returned from teaching and preaching and so Jesus wants to meet with them to rest and find out how they were doing.
- So, Jesus and His disciples go to the east side of the sea of Galilee and Matthew and Mark tell us that this area is a “desert” or “desolate place.”
And when they get there vs. 3 tells us that Jesus went up on the mountain and there sat with His disciples.”
And John says in vs. 4 that “the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.”
- And that is interesting because there seems to be some similarities in this story to the Exodus account that took place after the first Passover. For instance, Jesus and the people cross to the other side of the sea, they are in a desolate place, they need food, Jesus asks “Where are we going to buy food, that these might eat?” much like Moses did in Numbers 11:13, then Jesus provides food for them, much like God did when the Jews were in the wilderness. .
- So, there seems to be some similarities here of the Exodus in this story; perhaps to teach these people that Jesus is equal to God.
But, then in vs. 2, we are told that Jesus was being followed by a great multitude.
- And this is where the sad or tragic part of this story begins.
Notice in vs. 2 why these people are following Jesus: because they were seeing the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.
- That is why they were coming!
- Understand, this was a primitive world; it would be nearly 2 thousand years before a disease was ever properly diagnosed.
- People didn’t know what was wrong with them; pathology hadn’t been discovered.
- There were no true diagnoses of issues or illnesses so the people had no hope; there was no medicine.
- And just like it is today almost everyone had something wrong with them
So, if someone came along who could heal all their diseases; and then feed them too…
- Listen, the battle for daily bread was a lifelong battle in these days.
- They didn’t have supermarkets, or preprocessed foods; didn’t have refrigerators; it was a battle for every meal…
- So, if someone came along who could heal all their diseases and feed them too, what are you going to do? You are going to follow them.
So, that is what these people do.
Now, look at vs. 5: Jesus therefore lifting up His eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?”
- What Jesus does here is he points out that the situation is impossible. You have all these people; it is a desolate place; how are we going to feed them?
- There are no stores; no place to buy bread; and not enough money if there was!
- And He doesn’t really want help from Philip anyway, look at vs. 6:
6 And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.
- Jesus is testing Philip’s faith.
- All of these months the disciples have seen what Jesus can do. They have seen Him heal a man who was sick for 38 years.
- They have seen Him turn water into wine; they have seen Him heal the nobleman’s son.
- They have seen all the miracles that Jesus has performed that prove that He is God.
- And they have heard His teaching.
- As God He had created all things; surely He can make supper for everyone here.
- Philip should have known that but instead, Philip says, “Two hundred denarii is not sufficient to buy them all food.”
- Jesus wants Philip and the rest of the disciples to realize how impossible this situation is!
- This is a situation that is more than man can take care of.
Look at vs. 8: One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”
- In Mark’s account, in Mark 6:38, Jesus has told the disciples to go into the crowd and see how many loaves they had.
- So, Andrew comes back and says, “There is a lad here who has 5 barley loaves and two fish.”
- That’s it! Not going to feed many with that! For man, this is an impossible situation.
So, in vs. 10 Jesus tells His disciples to have the people sit down. (In Matthew, Mark and Luke’s accounts the disciples wanted to send the people away.)
- But Jesus tells the disciples to have the people sit down. (That in itself is a miracle. How do you get this many people to all sit down?)
Then In vs. 11 Jesus takes the loaves and fish, gives thanks for them, then He distributed the fish and loaves to those who were seated; and they all had as much as they wanted.
- There was no fanfare; no voice from heaven; no lightning; no thunder; He just kept passing out crackers and fish;
- Fish that have never swam; fish with no mama fish; fish that never ate a bug.
And crackers that were never baked; 5 crackers in which the grain had never been crushed.
- 5 cracker had been baked and 2 of the fish had swam; but not the rest.
- Where did they all come from? Jesus created them!
- This miracle is a great creation miracle and confirmed to everyone that Jesus is God. (Did these people tell their grandkids about this later on? You would think so.)
And in vs. 12, when the people were filled, Jesus told the disciples to “Gather up the leftover fragments that nothing may be lost.”
- And in vs. 13 they gathered the fragments and filled 12 baskets with fragments from the barley loaves which were left over.”
- Who were these 12 baskets of fragments for? How many disciples were there?
This is a stunning miracle! How in the world could any of these people possibly exhibit any lack of faith in Jesus? He had healed their sick; He had fed them all; this was a massive miracle!
- How could they not possibly believe who Jesus claimed to be? How could they not understand who He was?
- That is what makes this all so tragic!
In fact, look at vs. 14: When therefore the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is of a truth the Son of God, the Savior of the world.”
No, they said, “This is of a truth God in human form; teach us and we will obey!”
Look at what it says: When therefore the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is of a truth the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
And look at vs. 15: Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.
- These may be some of the saddest words in the Bible.
- After seeing this massive miracle did no one say, “Please forgive my sin; I will deny myself and follow after you?”
- Was no one convinced to repent; to mourn over their sins; to realize how spiritually bankrupt they were?
- Did no one humble themselves; sacrifice their lives; take up their cross; pursue holiness; be willing to endure persecution for the cause of Christ?
Here in this story Jesus demonstrates His power to show that He is deity hoping these people would listen to and obey His word; but it seems that no one did?
Perhaps years later when some of these people saw this man who had fed them from 5 loaves and 2 fishes being crucified and then 3 days later be raised from the dead; maybe then they realized who He really is. I hope so. But it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t.
- Because people today through the word, see this same massive miracle that proclaims Jesus to be God and the Savior of the world, and they too refuse to listen to His word and obey.
- Do you and I?
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2024