The Feeding of the 5,000

  • The Feeding of the 5,000
  • John 6:1-14
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • April 26, 2020
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Good morning Church! This morning we are continuing in our series, “Jesus Stories,” as we look at different scenes from the life of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospel of John. During this season of social distancing, we might not be able to be physically near one another, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be relationally connected. The one I need to be relationally connected to more than anyone else right now is Jesus. I know that I need more of Jesus, and I have a feeling that you most likely do as well.


Last week we looked at an encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan woman and how their interaction with one another models how God speaks truth into our lives. That story made it clear that we can’t keep anything form Jesus. He knows everything about us, but it also emphasized that even while knowing everything about us, God loves us all the more. Jesus is the only one who can satisfy our deepest need.


Today we go further into John’s gospel account, and as we do, we discover that John leaves no doubt about why he wrote his gospel account. In John 20:30-31, it says “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”


John’s Gospel records numerous signs and their explanations. Many more signs could have been included, but John chose to report those that best fit his intentions:

  • to show Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God
  • and to help people believe in Jesus and have life.


I believe in miracles, but I place my trust in Jesus. If you believe the Bible, you know that God is a miracle-working God. God is not limited in any degree nor any respect. He is sovereign. Do you believe that? I hope you do. Believe in miracles, but don’t put your faith in miracles. Let them cause you to put your faith and your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Today, we’re going to look at a miracle that I believe does just that. It points us to place our faith in Jesus. It’s one of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ. In fact, it’s so famous that it’s the only miracle Jesus ever did that’s recorded four times in the Bible- it show up in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You might know it as the Miracle of Feeding the 5,000.


Jesus never did a miracle to show off. That wasn’t His style. He always performed miracles for a purpose or to teach us something. Allow Jesus to reveal His purposes and teach us about Himself as we read this account from His life this morning.


John 6:1-7 After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. 3 Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. 4 (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) 5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.


7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”


8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”


10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. 12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.


14 When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”


In this miracle, we gain some amazing insights about Jesus.


There is no problem too big for Jesus to solve. Do you have a problem today? When I have a problem that is too big for me, and I want God to work in my life, I have to admit it, “God I need your help! I’m up against something that feels so much bigger than me.” For many of us, that is very difficult for us to do. We don’t like to admit our problems. We like to hide our problems, blame other people for our problems, or pretend that our problems don’t exist and hope that they will magically go away somehow.


I need to come to Jesus and say, “I have a major need in my life.” God wants us to admit our need of Him. Over and over again in the New Testament, we are commanded to ask God for what we need from Him.


On this day, there was a monumental problem — 5,000 hungry people and hardly a bite of food. Jesus said to Phillip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” And Phillip answered, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”


Phillip is looking at Jesus and saying, “Imagine the expense!” He does a little bit of cost analysis. The anxiety of the disciples starts going into overdrive, and I just imagine the other disciples looking at Jesus and saying, “How on Earth are we going to do this? This is an impossible situation.”


That would have produced a string of other questions:

  • How are we going to transport the food out here?
  • How are we going to keep it warm?
  • Who is going to clean up this mess?
  • Who is going to cover the liability insurance on all of this?


Then we see Jesus asking Phillip where they were going to buy bread. Why did Jesus ask Phillip where they were going to buy bread? Was it because Jesus was seeking advice? No, John says that Jesus knew what He was going to do.


Was He trying to learn something about Phillip? No, He already knew all about Phillip. Jesus wanted Phillip to gain some insight into himself. Phillip calculated the cost of feeding the people, but He left Jesus out of the equation.


What he had forgotten was who was there with him — Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was standing right beside him. This is the guy who can turn stones to bread, and they are looking around for a parade of food trucks to show up and circle around everyone to solve the problem.


You may have a very serious problem. Take that problem and double it. Now, double it again. Now, I want to ask you a question. Is it too big for God? Of course not. He is the Lord. The first part of Genesis 18:14 says, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” There is no problem too big for Jesus to solve. Do you believe that? I hope you do because He is the one who is right there beside you.


There is nothing too small for Jesus to use. When Jesus solves problems, He uses people. Who was the person Jesus used in the miracle? A little boy. It’s hard to get much smaller than that.


Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, found someone, “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”


Andrew has this epiphany that they are going to have to look around and see what it is that they already have on hand to be able to address the problem. His thinking is that you have to start with what you’ve already got. But then he very quickly dismisses it as being part of the solution. Not so fast, Andrew!


Here was a child and his small, little lunch. It was meager in quantity. It was meager in quality, but the Lord Jesus blessed and fed the multitude with this little boy’s lunch. Do you think this little boy went away hungry? When he gave it all to the Lord, then Jesus gave back to him.


You cannot “out-give” God. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”


God is not asking you to give what you don’t have, He’s asking you to give what you do have. God specializes in doing extraordinary things with ordinary people.


You see, God loves to ask His children, loves to ask us, to do the impossible. Why? He wants to stretch our faith. He wants us to see that He can be trustworthy. What better way to do so then to use the smallest of things?


Sometime in the future, you are going to have unforeseen problems come up in your life. They are going to sneak up on you.


I think we can all relate to that right now. If you had told me in January that we were going to be sheltering from home for weeks on end and that our only worship services would be via a livestream, I would have laughed at you. A crisis is a crisis partially because it takes you by surprise.


  • Someone will get a phone call in the middle of the night that gets your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping, and you hear that there’s been an accident.
  • Or you hear that a loved one has been taken to the hospital or has passed away.
  • Or you will be called from the school and they say, “We’ve got a problem with your child.” On and on and on. You get the idea.


You don’t know what those problems are. That’s part of what makes them problems. They’re going to come up. But, God knows the answer before you even know the problem. He’s not going to be surprised by it.


I come to Him and admit I have a need, and here’s what we have to work with- the little talent, the little ability, the little wealth, the little time that I have.


You take the energy you have and give it to Him.

You take the time you have and give it to Him.

You take the money you have and give it to Him.

You take the relationship, the talent, or whatever it is that you have and say, “God, here’s what I have.”


Notice the Bible says, “Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people…”


This is interesting. I don’t know how He did it, but evidently, as He broke the bread, it just kept multiplying and multiplying.


He’d break off a piece, and there was still a piece there. He kept on doing it and doing it, and it multiplied, and everybody could see it- the whole crowd.


That’s why it’s recorded four different times by four different eyewitnesses. God likes to use ordinary things to do extraordinary things. God likes to use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary tasks.


Notice the kind of giving that this little boy had that sparked a miracle. First, he gave it willingly, he gave it cheerfully, and he gave it immediately.


The little boy wasn’t too small to help. The five loaves and two fish weren’t too small of an amount to make a difference. Nothing is too small an amount to make a difference when Jesus is involved.


There is no hunger too deep for Jesus to satisfy. After Jesus fed the five thousand, He drives home the real point of this whole encounter. He wants people to understand who He is. Let’s pick up with the story in John 6:22. At this point, Jesus has moved on from the scene of the miracle and is now in Capernaum.

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. 23 Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. 24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. 25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”


26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”


28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”


30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”


32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”


34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”


35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.


Jesus’ audience does not understand what He is saying, not at all. They are totally confused. They still think Jesus is offering them literal bread, which they can eat and fill their stomachs with just like they ate the barley loaves at the feeding of the 5,000.


When Jesus speaks to them about “bread,” they quickly ask for more saying, “Give us that bread every day.” They offer Jesus a full-time position as their baker.


In His response, Jesus makes it very clear that He is speaking of spiritual bread, not literal bread. He is the one who is the “bread,” so whoever comes to Him will never hunger.


Jesus speaks of the one who comes to Him as the one who believes in Him. To come to Jesus is to trust in Him, by faith, as the “bread of heaven,” who is God’s provision not for our next meal, but for eternal life.


Some of you listening right now know what it is to be spiritually hungry. For some of you, this strange time we have found ourselves in has put a magnifying glass on the depth of your spiritual need. It has magnified your hunger, your need.


Jesus wants you to know that He is the one who can satisfy your every need. All you have to do is place your trust in Him. All you need to do is to trust in Him. If you’ve never done so, I want to encourage you to do so now. If you’ve wandered or strayed away, I want to encourage you to return to Him. No matter what you are facing, no matter where you find yourself right now, Jesus is the one who can satisfy your hunger.


A miracle took place when Jesus fed the 5,000 that day, and the purpose of that miracle was to point us to Jesus. May we all turn to Him today. May we experience him as the God for whom nothing is too big to handle. May we know Him as the God for whom nothing is too small to use. May we be able to say that we know Him as the one who satisfies our souls.