About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand (ch.6:1-15)


This section in John is one famous account.  It's written about in all of the four gospel accounts, but, John interprets things in more detail than the other gospel writers.


In verse 1 John says that Jesus crossed to the other
side of the Sea of Galilee, or Sea of Tiberias.
That ould be modern day Jordan.  The Roman city of Tiberias was on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee


In verse 2 John tells us about the crowd that was following Jesus.  They were following Him merely because of His miracles.  In other words, they followed them for what they could get from Jesus, not for what they could give to Him, that is, their lives, which by the way, is the essence of the gospel.   


In verses 3 and 4 John says it was some time later and that Passover was soon to come.  Some say that this particular Passover must have been the second year of His ministry, the second Passover that He would have attended.  That presupposes the feast spoken of in John 5 is not the Passover, but one of the three fall feasts.  Some believe the John 5 feast was indeed a Passover.  If that is true then this would be the third year of Jesus' ministry.


As seen in verse 2 Jesus went on the other side of Galilee .  He went up onto a mountain to be alone with His disciples, but the crowd followed Him.  At this stage in His ministry Jesus had a hard time getting away from the crowd.   


In verse 5 John states that Jesus looked at the crowd and asked Philip where they might buy bread to feed these people.  I believe that everything Jesus did was for a specific reason.  I believe every question that Jesus asked was for a reason, including this question.  Jesus just didn't talk off the top of His head when asking questions.


It's interesting to me that Jesus even
considered feeding this crowd of people.  Was it really His responsibility to fee people who only followed Him for what they could get from Him instead of what they could give to Him?  Jesus clearly had compassion on these people.  That is just His nature.


Note also that Jesus asked Philip about buying bread.  Jesus clearly had something in mind here because I'm sure that He had no idea about actually buying bread.  He knew that He would be performing a miracle.  This is confirmed in verse 6 where John states that Jesus knew how He was going to feed this crowd and it wasn't through the purchase of food.  This in fact was a test to see how Philip would respond.  This tells me that Jesus does in fact test those who claim to be His.  He tests our trust in Him as clearly stated in 1 Peter, chapter 1.          


In verse 7 Philip answered as you or I would most likely answer.  He told Jesus that not even eight months worth of wages could pay for bread to feed these people.  Now let's not be too hard on Philip.  He did answer Jesus' question exactly as Jesus asked it.  Jesus asked where they could go and buy food.  He didn't ask how they could feed the crowd.  Philip simply answered Jesus' exact question.  To Philip, money was the issue.  They didn't have enough money to buy food as Jesus' question implied.


In verses 8 and 9 Andrew, who must have been present, put in his two cents worth into the conversation.  He noted that there was a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far would that go among such a large crowd.  Of course, this was a humanistic response to Jesusí question.  Iím sure this did not surprise Jesus, but what Jesus would do would certainly surprise His disciples.


Barley loaves in those days were the least expensive bread one could buy.  People only ate barley loaves if there wasn't better bread to eat.  


Verse 10 says that Jesus told the disciples to have everyone sit down on the grass. There were about five thousand men, plus women and children.   There could have easily been twenty thousand people there. 


In verse 11 Jesus took the loaves and fish, gave thanks for them.  He then distributed them to everyone.  Everyone had enough to eat.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all add some clarity to this verse.  John seems to imply that Jesus distributed the food Himself but the other gospel writers say that the disciples distributed the food after Jesus distributed the food to them.  So, the way in which Jesus distributed the food as John puts it was first distributing it to the Twelve who then passed it to the crowd.  


This must have taken a while.  It would have taken a few minutes for the disciples to get everyone seated, and it would have taken even longer for the Twelve to hand out this food to each and every person as it appears He might have.


Then John states in verse 12 that Jesus told the disciples to gather the leftovers. "Let none be wasted," Jesus said.  I donít think that Jesus was a man who would waste anything, especially food. 


So in verse 13 the Twelve gathered up twelve baskets full of leftovers.  We should not read too much into this number as some might do.  There were twelve apostles, and each of them apparently had a basket to gather the scraps in.


We donít know what happened to the leftovers.  Jesus told the apostles that the food should not be wasted, so I donít think they threw it away after they gathered it up.  It might well have been that they ate the leftover food.  They would have probably been hungry themselves at this point.


Another reason why Jesus might have asked the Twelve to gather up the food was so the miracle would have more impact on them.  They distributed the food and now they gathered up the leftovers.     


In verse 14 we note the crowd was amazed at this miracle.  They believed Him to be the great prophet spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 to 18.  In that passage Moses predicted the day when a prophet like him would come to Israel that all Israelis were to obey.  Now the Jews were not wrong in their thinking. They just had the timing wrong.  Jesus will not come to be King until He returns to earth the second time as the Bible predicts.    


As verse 15 states, the crowd had its mind made up.  They wanted to make Jesus their king, even if they had to force Him to do so.  The crowd clearly was hoping for a new form of government.  They wanted to be free from Roman domination, and, the welfare system that Jesus could easily establish would be just what they wanted.  Just imagine.  No one would have to work for food any more.  Jesus could just speak the food into existence for everyone.  How great that would be.


Jesus knew that a political leader was not His calling at this stage in His ministry.  That day is yet to come, and be assured, it will come.  


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