FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND
John 6:1-14 gives an account of one of the most notable miracles Jesus performed when he was on the earth. Those who have made a careful study of all the miracles say this is the only miracle that is found in all four gospels. This one was so impressive that Mathew, Mark, Luke and John all record the event. On this occasion five thousand men, not counting women and children had been with Jesus all day, listening to His teachings, and He had healed many of their diseases. It was late in the day, darkness was coming on Here were over 5,000 people, hungry as hunters. Those poor people were famished. They had been with Christ all day, and had nothing to eat. Had they been dispersed as they were, tired and hungry, many of them would have fainted by the way, and perhaps some of them might have died. It was a most serious and embarrassing situation and demanded immediate attention.
The apostles notified Jesus of the problem and suggested that He send the multitude away that they might find lodging for the night .and buy their own food. As far as the apostles were concerned, this was the problem that all these people would have to take care of themselves. But Jesus shocked them by saying, “They don't need to go away.” Then he tested the faith of Philip by saying, “Where can we buy bread that they may eat?” Philip answered, “200 Denarii worth of food would not be enough to give each person a very little. A denarius was a day's wage for a common laborer. A man would have to work 200 days to have that much money, and the disciples did not have that kind of money in their little treasury. Then Jesus said to the apostles, there is no need to send the people away. You give them something to eat. How many loaves is there among the multitude. Go and see.” After a thorough search, Andrew, Peter's brother, said, “There is a lad here who has five barely loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many.” Over 5,000 hungry men, women and children, and here are \is the provisions . Five thin wafers, and those of barely, and by way of relish two little anchovies. Barley, you know, is more fit for horses than people. What provisions! Five little biscuits and two sardines. Five slices of bread and two little sun fish. That wasn't enough bread to give each person even a crumb..
Biscuits and sardines seem to be a most insufficent meal to begin with, a very small capital indeed on which to conduct business of feeding 5,000 people. As we think about it, these loaves and fishes had a previous previous history before being mentioned in our text. They were the only
food among all those thousands of people. How did they come to be there? Andrew give us the answer when he said to Jesus, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish.” We don't know his name, and we are not told anything about his parents. We don't know much about him, but we wonder what he was doing among that great crowd of people on that day? One thing we do know is that he was the right boy in the right place that day, and that little picnic he brought immortalized as long as time lasts. Who hasn't heard about this little boy and his loaves and fishes?. . Be his name what it might, it did not matter. He had the barely loaves and fishes upon which five thousand people were to be fed.
Though seemingly inadequate to feed the multitude, these loaves and fishes would have been quite enough for the boy's supper, and I am sure that is why he brought them along. Yet, he appears to have been quite willing to part with them. Most children generally are not willing to part with anything that belongs to them, especially food when they are hungry. The apostles would not have forcefully taken them away from him, and Jesus would not have allowed it. Somebody might well have said to him, “Boy,. you know that you will soon be able to eat those five cakes, and fishes; you keep them.” It's every person for himself in this world. and one of commonly accepted rules of life is, “Take care of number one.” However, it appears he was willing to give up his little sack lunch to the apostles.
When Jesus learned about the loaves and fishes of the little boy, He said, “Bring them here to me.” How did Jesus feed so many people with five loaves and two fish?. First, he had the people sit down in groups of 50; so they divided into 100 separate groups and sat down on the grass to be served the evening meal.. The Bible says, “Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down, and likewise the fish, as much as they wanted.” It was an “all you can eat” dinner. The miracle took place in His hands. There was always loaves and fish in His hands When He gave bread and fish to the disciples, new loaves and fish appeared in hands, or in some similar fashion. There was always a continuous supply of food in Hishands. When Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves two fish, He created vast amounts of food that did not previously exist. The glory of this miracle was that Jesus created something out of nothing. This was not the first time He had done such a thing. The Bible clearly reveals that God the Father created the world through God the Son and that He created the universe out of nothing.
Hebrews 11:3 declares, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made out of things which are visible.” That is just another way of saying that the
universe was created out of nothing, that it had a beginning and had no previous existence before the time mentioned in Genesis 1:1, “In he beginning God created the heavens and he earth.” We learn from the loaves and fishes that Jesus Christ had creative power when He walked the earth, and had the power to create something out of nothing.
As marvelous as this miracle was, we must not forget that Christ provides an abundance of food every day for billions of people, only He does it in a non-miraculous fashion. Guy N. Woods said, “He multiplies the material things of His creation in immeasurable number for out good in a thousand different ways today.” The same power by which He multiplied the loaves and fishes is that which makes the seed to germinate and grow to supply us with food today. Just like those 5,000 people we are the recipients of His creative power and goodness, as the author of the natural laws, and for this we should be evermore thankful. Twelve baskets full of broken pieces and fragments remained after all the people were fed. At the word of Jesus none of the food was to be wasted, and by this He taught His disciples and us a lesson in economy, prudence and preservation. Natural laws are a gift from His bountiful hands which He permits us to use, but we learn here it is inconsistent with His will to waste or abuse them.
Finally, the most important thing about this fantastic event is that He did not perform this miracle just to feed hungry people. It was all designed to serve a far far more important purpose than to satisfy physical hunger. But Jesus did not reveal this purpose until the next day. This same crowed assembled around Him on he morrow, but Jesus said to them on this second occasion,, “You haven't come to me to see the wonderful works I perform but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” They came for another fee meal. They challenged Him to prove He was the Messiah by working some great miracle like Moses did in the wilderness. They said that Moses gave the people bread from heaven to eat in the wilderness, what can you do? Moses' gift came down from heaven; the food they had yesterday came from the earth. They had heavenly food; you gave us earthly food. They were contrasting Jesus with Moses and insinuated that what Moses did was greater than what He did for them yesterday.
Then Jesus delivered to this unbelieving multitude His famous sermon on the Bread of Life. He started out by saying, “It was not Moses that gave your fathers the bread out of heaven.” What did He mean by that statement? He meant that it was God the Son who gave Israel that manna from heaven. He didn't say that to them because they would not have
believed Him, but the very one who fed Israel for 40 years with Manna was now standing before them. But they did not know this. Next He spoke these wonderful words to them. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they are all dead, but there is now a bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die. I am that living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I will give fo the life of the world.. Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of God and drink His blood there is no life in you.. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as your fathers ate the manna and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” Stripping these famous words of all the metaphorical language, the bread of life is the death of Jesus Christ. One eats of that bread when he believes what the word of God says about His death, and one applies the benefits of His death to their souls by obedience to the gospel. The physical bread that fed 5,000 people came from Christ, and heavenly bread of eternal life which God offers to the billions of earth comes from Christ. Billions of people on planet earth are starving because of spiritual hunger but don't know it. Nevertheless, if this continues, they will suffer not only physical death but the second death in the world to come. Spiritual hunger differs from physical hunger. One must learn for himself if his soul is in a state of starvation.
Like the manna in the wilderness that lay all around, the death of Christ, the bread from heaven, is all about in the world. I wonder if there is anyone who has not heard about it? But how shall the bread of life be made available to the billions of earth? Just like it was done on that day when a few disciples distributed the food that Christ gave them. to 5,000 hungry people. As Jesus said to the disciples on that day, He says to us, as recorded in Matthew 14:16, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Christ says to Christians, “Don't send the people away without the bread of life; you feed them. As I have given the bread of life to you, you give it to them. “ His disciples are still the distributors of the food that came down from heaven. Jesus says to us all, “They need not depart; you give them to eat.”
I want to mention this little boy in the story one more time. He had just five loaves and two little fishes, but in the hands of Christ they fed a multitude. Let each Christian, let each congregation bring what they can and place it in the hands of Christ, and He will use it and multiply it... Anything we take from ourselves and give to Christ are well invested.. It will yield high interest. Let us bring our time, bring our love and our financial gifts.
The bread of life has its distribution costs. Bring your heart; it can b e warmed by the love of God. Bring your brain; it can associated with the teachings of His word. Bring you manhood and womanhood, for they can be completely consecrated to Christ. Do not hold back because of our deficiencies. Bring what you have and can. Blessed is the time that we have not used for ourselves but for Christ. Blessed is the knowledge you have used for Chris and not yielded to the world. Blessed is the influence, position and money you have put in Christ's hands and reckoned not to be your own but His. May the Lord bless every talent we have. May He bless our memory, our understanding, and our heads. The finest food in the world has been brought to the table of Kings, but never recorded in history. But this little boy's five loaves and two fishes have got into the Bible. And if you will look, you will find these barely cakes mentioned in Matthew; you will find these barley cakes in Mark; you will find the barely cakes in Luke; and you will find them in the gospel. of John .
However, let us remember that whatever we bring to Christ, whatever we may do for Him, let us remember that He is the bread of life, not us. He gives people eternal life, not us. We are only helpers and distributors, and He reminded us of this when He said, “Without Me, you can do nothing.” Therefore, let us not over-exalt helpers and give them honor that right belongs only to Him. Christ is the Bread of Life; He is the Giver of eternal life, and unto Him belongs the power, the glory and the praise, now and forevermore.