Jesus Feeds 5,000 plus People with a Boy's Lunch-John 6:5-14
Updated: Feb 1
It wasn't going to be hard for me to find where the teacher was because I just had to follow where the crowds were gathering. My parents had to work, but they urged me to take my brother and go listen and learn from the Rabbi called Jesus. They were so impressed with Jesus' wisdom and wanted us to gather more information to share with them later that night. I grabbed the lunch sack that my mother prepared of some smoked fish and loaves of bread and took off early with my brother in tow. My best bet was to go by the water edge of the Sea of Galilee. Word had it that Jesus seemed to often arrive and retreat by boat with his disciples. With so many pilgrims traveling toward Jerusalem for the Passover, there were unusual heavy crowds lining the shore.
Sure enough, we found a crowd of people moving from the shoreline up the hills towards the grassy rolling meadows. Jesus was standing on a slope meeting sick, lame, broken, blind and deaf people. With a soft spoken voice and a mere touch, they were healed. He alternated in touching people with words and with his hands physically. His voice reverberated off the hillside making the acoustics perfect for all to hear. The gentle sloping hills were speckled with color as so many came to see Jesus. The crowd held no respecter to one's station, for there were blind beggars to wealthy and accomplished businessmen wearing vibrant colorful robes. Taking my brother's hand, I weaved through the crowd ducking under arms and maneuvering quickly into open spaces until we finally were just mere feet of Jesus. We settled ourselves down quickly so as to not get waved away by someone older.
Hours slipped by, but none got weary of the day’s events. Neither did we give much notice of the discomfort of sitting for so long. Surely, we are in the presence of someone sent by God. It is just so amazing that we are able to be so close to hear all that Jesus had to say. A couple of his disciples walk over to give the Rabbi a jug of water. Realizing the hour, one says to Jesus, "This is a desolate place, and it is getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves."
"That isn't necessary - you feed them," Jesus states nonchalantly as he takes a long swallow. Lowering the jug and turning to Philip, he asks, "Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?"
Philip’s eyes widen with the mere thought of it all and replies, "It would take a fortune to begin to do it! At least eight months of a man's wages!"
"How many loaves do you have, go check," he responds as if Philip’s remarks were expected, yet it didn’t matter to him.
The disciples and their fellow travelers go to their sacks and start searching for any provision that they might have to share. Realizing with hope that I can contribute, I jump up and run to one of them whom they call Andrew and offer our lunch. We had forgotten all about it! It was as if we were fed with knowledge all day! Joy fills my soul, that I had something to offer. It felt like I was offering a portion of gratitude for all that my brother and I received that day. Soon enough, the disciples stop searching and realize there is nothing that can be added to our food. Literally, all that they have is our lunch. Andrew beckons me over to bring the lunch sack to Jesus. "There is a youngster here with five barley loaves and two fish! But what good is that with all this mob? There is about 5,000 here in men alone, not counting the women and children."
"Bring them to me," he states looking directly into my eyes with his warm compassionate expression and a smile that was beaming. I leap up and grab the basket that they had emptied the lunch into and offer it to him.
"Just tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty or a hundred and gather me baskets," Jesus responds with a quirky smile.
The disciples and women that travel with Jesus quickly disperse to gather the people into groups on the hillside. They also gather up some baskets and lay them at the teacher's feet.
The view across the meadow is spectacular. The soft green hills are littered with organized large circles in every direction in just mere minutes. There is a hushed silence and an electric charge in the air that is building with every passing second with the great anticipation of what Jesus will do next. Never, can I recall a moment of such expectancy. I only wish my parents could be here with us. OY-VEY! What a mistake to work this day instead of spending time with Jesus!
Jesus takes the bread and fish and looks up into heaven and gives thanks to God for it and then begins to break the bread into pieces laying them in the basket trays. Then he did the same with the smoked fish, and the disciples went in different directions to pass out the trays. My brother tears off another bite of bread and jovially says, "Wait until mom hears how many people her sack lunch fed today!" Everyone enjoyed multiple dips into the trays and ate until they were full. The fish and bread never stopped multiplying until the need subsided. Then Jesus directed the men closest to him to collect the extra food as not to waste any of it and bring it forward.
With amazement, at the feet of Jesus stood twelve full baskets of bread and fish. He multiplied the humble gift that we offered and blessed many. We sought out Jesus, offered what little we had --never realizing the great return that we would receive. Our hearts were touched by his compassion and generosity to care for us all.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Are there times when you think I don't have much to offer to make a
difference, so you don't give of your __________?(money, talents, words of encouragement) The prayer of faith "to be used by Him" will multiply
what little you feel you have to offer and turn it into an abundance of
2. Evaluate whether you often have "glory to God moments" to share with others on how God has provided an answer, guidance, or provision. If you don't have them VERY often, then maybe you are not seeking Him out and being in His presence enough. The amazing truth that are
testified by all Christians is that you won't go away empty and without amazing
stories as well if you are seeking to find Him.
This account is called Jesus Feeds 5,000, and it is the only miracle that is found in all four of the Gospels. It is titled that way, but in the Gospel of Matthew (the former tax collector with the mathematical record keeping skills) mentions clearly that there were women and children not counted in that number as he states "about 5,000 men were in the crowd that day besides women and children." The Gospel of John has it recorded as "the approximate count of the men only was 5,000." The other two also specify the count referred to men. So this number can be increased to at least double or triple that amount of people fed that day.
There was another feeding of a huge crowd shortly thereafter where the count of the "men only" was approximately 4,000. Jesus Feeds 4,000 is recorded only in Matthew 15 and Mark 8. Interestingly, the first "feeding of 5,000" was to a crowd that were mainly all Jewish people and many were in from the countryside as they made their way to Jerusalem for the Passover sacrifices (Gospel of John). This second "feeding of 4,000" occurred in the Gentile region of the Decapolis or "Ten Towns",so it was a Gentile crowd. This was the beginning of Jesus expanding his ministry to the Gentiles. Gentiles refer to anyone not Jewish.
Jesus came to the Earth through the lineage of the Jewish nation as a promise to them, but he also came to bring the reconciliation to God as a gift to the whole world. In Act 1:8, Luke records words that Jesus shared in the 40 days that he kept reappearing after his crucifixion. It is one of the most famous instructions that Jesus had given to the disciples regarding the spread of his testimony, "when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth about my death and resurrection."
In both accounts of feeding a huge crowd, Jesus took the bread and then the fish and lifted it toward Heaven and thanked God for it. Then he broke the bread and fish into pieces and shared it for all to eat. What an amazing foreshadow of Jesus who called himself the "true bread from Heaven" and "I am the bread of Life" (John 6:32-33) broken and given to all men- Jews and Gentiles.
John 6:32-33 - "And now He (God) offers you true bread from Heaven. The true bread is a person- the one sent by God from Heaven and he gives life to the world." and John 6: 35 "Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."
Fascinating how we see that Jesus metaphorically broke the bread (picture of his broken body) first to the crowd of Jews and then to the regions beyond - the crowd of Gentiles. It is also a perfect lesson on how we all hunger for sustenance and need to fill ourselves daily searching for something to satisfy longings, - but one experience of His bread and we no longer ache or search for "a filling"..."a completeness"....but rather, we feel nourished and full. This is the great "Good News" that Christians attempt to explain and share with others. This is the "mysterious love" that is better than any 'love' on this earth. Our savior, Jesus, not only restores our relationship with God and give us eternal life, but he also fills us with a love and joy that calms our souls. When problems come our way, we truly understand that Jesus came to not only save our souls, but to save us from our problems too. We don't have to search for happiness and peace for we know where it comes from- Him. We rest in Romans 8:28 - "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." We are reminded with many accounts of people of faith in the Bible enduring a tragedy or hardship that yielded to a greater good. We can trust that we don't have to figure out the problems, but to offer them up in prayer.
We can also be reminded that bread is eaten daily- and so if we continue to seek a filling of Jesus by going to the Bible and praying daily, it causes us to grow healthier as we do. The flip side of this would be when you stop seeking him in your busyness and stop talking things over with him in prayer, you will be weak and missing out on the joy of seeing miracles or incredible moments of praise.
A fun fact is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means "house of bread".
This young boy didn't hesitate and "think" and dwell on what little he had to offer. A good model for us to be like this child who just innocently gave of the little that he had and God multiplied it way beyond human understanding. God only can make "something out of nothing!"
Lastly, whatever age you are, whatever little ability you think you have, when it is offered to God for service, it will end up blessing you more than who you were offering it to. We think we are doing others a favor by our service, but truly the "bigger riches" is what occurs in return to the giver. How can we define True Riches? It is a heart that reflects our king and saviors' heart which fills us with love and joy. We are touched by God when we offer our talents, money, brains, encouragement, time to others. We are the ones who are far more blessed than the ones we tend to bless. This is God's economy....it is better to give than to receive. Why- because you will be touched by God!
As the account is recorded in the Bible:
Read what Jesus said about being the "Bread of Life"