The Feeding of the 5000 – John 6:1-15

Moving now to John chapter 6, Jesus has left Jerusalem and gone to Galilee.  1 After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias ). 2 A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” 6 This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii (two hundred days wages) worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” (Philip was from this area so it made sense to ask him where to buy some food.  Of course, it was just a test and rather than giving a grocery store recommendation, Philip stated the obvious that the crowd was much too large for the disciples to feed.)

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?” (Andrew draws attention to the ludicrous idea that we could somehow use this boy’s lunch to feed the crowd.  Besides it being far too small, the word for fish here is a specific Greek word for small fish used as a relish.  These were not a couple of ten pound catfish and two traditional loaves of bread.  The boy’s meal was basically some kipper snacks and small dinner rolls.)

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. 12 When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. (Starting with the boy’s meal of kipper snacks and dinner rolls, Jesus feeds five thousand people and the disciples pick up twelve baskets of leftovers.  Jesus had said earlier that His miracle works were one of the signs He had been sent by the Father and this is one of the more spectacular.)

14 Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” (When people saw the “sign”, they immediately proclaimed Jesus to be the Prophet of Moses [see Deut 18:15].  The people were looking for the Prophet of Moses and in fact had asked John the Baptist [Jn 1:21] if he were the Prophet.  John correctly answered, “No.”  But now, they give that title to Jesus based on the miracle He had just preformed.  Despite this recognition, it must be pointed out that the Jews did not necessarily put the Prophet of Moses and the Promised Messiah together as the same person as we do today.

15 So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, (If Jesus is the Prophet of Moses, the next logical step is to make Him king.  If Jesus is the Prophet of Moses, He would surely do what Moses did for their ancestors and deliver them from the oppression of the Romans.  The crowd understood the Prophet’s appearance only on the material level.  They did not understand or embrace the spiritual significance of Jesus’ arrival on the scene.  In fact, later in this chapter, when Jesus explains the spiritual significance of His coming, many fall away.)

withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone. (It was not yet time for Jesus to accept the King title – a mantle He would accept and embrace on Palm Sunday – so He slipped away from the crowd.)