Summary of passage: After healing the man at the pool and accusing the Pharisees of having no heart for God, Jesus journeys to the Sea of Galilee. He now has a gang of followers because of his miracles and it is close to Passover again. Jesus expresses concern for feeding the multitude of followers and asks Philip his opinion on what should be done as a test since Jesus already knows what he’s going to do. Philip does not see Jesus as the miracle worker; he immediately answers with a world’s answer: where will be get the money? Andrew sees a boy with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and is being practical of the matter by finding a starting point.
5000 men sat down and Jesus prayed over the food and began distributing it. It never ran out and they even had leftovers. Jesus asked Philip as a test where will they get food to feed all these people as Jesus already knew what he was going to do. Philip immediately said they don’t have enough money to buy food for all these people. Andrew found a boy with 5 small loaves of bread and 2 fish.
Jesus had the 5000 men sit down. He took the loaves and the fish, gave thanks, and distributed all to the people with leftovers.
5) Part-personal Question. My answer: Philip immediately thought of the expense of feeding the people. Andrew found what was around. The boy shared (we’re not told willingly or not). They all thought practically, not taking into account who Jesus was. I’d probably be the same. How will we do this? I do think practically but Jesus works in miracles and anything is possible with him.
6) Personal Question. My answer: He gave thanks. Thankfulness does not play a big enough part in my life. We’re supposed to be joyful, pray, and give thanks no matter your circumstances. God is enough. Yet we often don’t act like it or believe it. Today I witnessed another lady pay her friend’s tax bill. It was only $295. The friend was in tears. It made me think how blessed I am and how kindness can play a big part in others’ lives. We in the developed world have nothing to be ungrateful for. We live amazing lives full of ease and luxury compared to 2000 years ago and others around the world. This is all thanks to Him. We need to thank Him every day for His generosity and His Son and all we have because of Him.
7) Part personal Question. My answer: He feeds them and abundantly blesses them. He saw the need, had the people gather around him, he gave thanks for what they had, and provided all the people needed and then some. Teach others about Jesus. Have compassion on people. You don’t know what they are going through. Feed others literally–physical needs first. Then feed them spiritually. Take care of all their needs. Look around and see the need even if others won’t ask. It is there if only we’d open our eyes.
Conclusions: Great lesson on God’s abundance to His people. Believe in the impossible even when you can’t see it. Pray for the impossible. For God will answer and provide. Classic story that embodies all Christ is about. He gives and gives and gives some more. He doesn’t stop giving at the expense of himself. If only we could see that.
End Notes: This miracle is recorded in all the other Gospels as well with only Mark mentioning how it wasn’t the plan. Luke tells us Jesus also taught the multitude who was following him and not just those following him up the mountain.
The Sea of Tiberius is the official Roman name for the Sea of Galilee, from the town of Tiberius named after the Roman emperor and founded in 20 AD. This would be the northeast shore near Bethsaida.
The Greek verbs here are continuing action. It seems these crowds always followed Jesus and never went away.
John is the only one to date this incident by mentioning Passover. These crowds could be heading to Jerusalem for that feast. Passover is a celebration of God’s people leaving Egypt. Here, Jesus will feed the people just like God did during those tumultuous times.
The mountain Jesus ascended is assumed to be the Golan Heights of today.
Mark tells us it was late in the day and Jesus had been teaching them all day. Not John. He cuts to the chase: Jesus saw a need and is about to address it.
Jesus is testing Philip’s faith here as well as feeding the people. Philip has been with Jesus long enough and seen enough miracles he should have known Jesus would solve this problem. He’s teaching his disciples for when he is no longer here.
Some scholars say the disciples should have anticipated this miracle and not have doubted God’s provision (Psalm 78:19). 2 Kings 4:38-42 shows God multiplying barley loaves.
Philip thinks small, which we often do. With Jesus we must think big.
Andrew introduces the boy to Jesus. Again, he’s spreading the Good News.
Barley is worth less than wheat, meaning the boy is most likely poor. It was most often fed to the livestock.
John uses a different word for fish than the other Gospels. He indicates they are small.
Women and children are not included in the 5000 so Jesus actually fed many, many more.
In God’s hands, small is big. God doesn’t need a lot to work with. He doesn’t need anything but he’s waiting for us to participate.
In no hurry, the people sit down, invoking Psalm 23. Jesus’ hands is what makes the miracle, not the act of distribution. Note the bread and fish are dead. Jesus gives life from death.
Jesus brought the disciples in to help him. He could have made the food appear in everyone’s hands but instead he uses others to fulfill his desires. Great lesson!
He makes food for others but not for himself in the wilderness.
Everything was abundant and everyone had more than enough. Eating and drinking is a sign of prosperity in the Old Testament and is often used as a sign of blessing from God when our basic needs are met.
The boy ended up with more as well.
Nothing is wasted with Jesus either. The leftovers are gathered up to be used later.
Fun Quote on this passage: Augustine: “God loves us for what we are becoming.”