4. Jesus Fed Thousands and Thousands
Read John 6:1-15
This super sign was by far the most public of Jesus’ miracles and can be found in each of the other three gospel accounts. By this point in His ministry, Jesus was attracting huge crowds who followed Him hoping to witness more miracles of healing or to experience healing for themselves. On this particular occasion, a very large multitude followed Christ across the Sea of Galilee to a desolate area. Jesus intended to give His disciples a chance to rest and refresh alone after a very intense season of public ministry. Mark 6:30-32 tells us that they had been going non-stop to the point where they didn’t even have time to eat. This was supposed to be a much-needed break, but upon seeing the large crowd following Him, Jesus took the opportunity to further instruct both the faith and love of his disciples. Luke 9 tells us that the disciples wanted to send the crowds away. Instead, Jesus asked his disciples how they would feed this large multitude. Of course, Jesus already knew how He would provide, and the weary disciples only needed to look to Him for that provision.
The number of men alone totaled around 5,000. Including women and children who were also surely present, the crowd would have most likely been closer to 15-20,000 people. Philip did the math in his head and came to the conclusion that it would be absolutely impossible to feed such a crowd even if they had a half-year’s worth of wages at their disposal. Andrew at least gave the suggestion of a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish offered by a little boy, but he even questioned the ability of Christ to do anything with such a small offering. One can only imagine the frustration that the disciples felt who were at the end of their rope physically and emotionally. They must have felt that Christ was asking them to do the impossible, while He was actually just asking them to believe in His power to provide.
Jesus gave instructions for the crowd of men to be seated in groups before blessing the meager provisions given by the little boy from the crowd. With such a crowd, it only makes sense that He would give an orderly way of distributing all of the food to the thousands that were present. The Bible tells us that everyone ate as much as they wanted. This must have been in stark contrast to daily life, which for most during the time of Christ would have meant rationing provisions. The disciples then followed Christ’s command to retrieve the leftovers, and they collected 12 baskets full of remaining food, even after everyone had eaten their fill.
The thrill of the crowds was overwhelming. Having lived in poverty and Roman oppression throughout their lifetime, they wanted to take Christ by force at that very moment to make Him king. This was not Jesus’ plan, though, and He instead withdrew into the mountain by himself to pray as was his original purpose in crossing the lake.
Study it Out
- Jesus gives one of His “I Am” statements the very next day relating directly to this miracle. Read John 6:1-59 to learn more about this account.
- Jesus alone can provide life, satisfaction, and true joy. How were the crowds focused on the gift rather than the Giver? How do passages like Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:1-4, and Jeremiah 2:11-13 give further clarity on God as the source of all that is good?
- How does the Lord’s supper remind you of the truths found in these passages? How can celebrating the Lord’s supper remind you of your eternal hope and keep you from seeking only temporal satisfaction and comfort?
- The references to partaking of Christ in this way also alludes to the union believers experience with Christ upon salvation. How does Romans 6 as well as Paul’s many references to being “In Christ” give further clarity to this idea?