Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Feeding The Five Thousand
“After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.” (John 6:1-4)
A year after he began his ministry, shortly before Passover, Jesus had crossed the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him because they saw the miracles he did to heal the sick. Jesus led his disciples up on the side of a mountain and sat teaching the people.
“When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.” (John 6:5-7)
Looking at the crowd, Jesus asked Philip where they could get food enough to feed the crowd. Jesus already knew what he was going to do, but he was deliberately challenging their faith to help it grow. Like muscles, faith only grows stronger as it is exercised. Looking at the crowd, Philip concluded that two hundred days pay at minimum wage would not be enough to satisfy everyone.
“One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” (John 6:8-9)
The disciples asked around, but only one little boy had thought ahead to pack a lunch. He had five loaves, similar to flat bread or pita bread, and two small fish. He was just guessing how much he would want. As the disciple said, it wasn’t even a drop in the bucket of what they would need.
“And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.” (John 6:10-11)
It was a very grassy area and Jesus had them sit on the grass in groups of about fifty people. There were about five thousand men, not counting the women and children. After blessing the food, Jesus began to break it up and put it in to baskets and the disciples served to each group, giving each person as much as they wanted.
“When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.” (John 6:12-13)
After everyone had eaten as much as they wanted, Jesus had the leftovers collected so nothing would be wasted. Each of the disciples collected a full basket full to take home to their families.
“Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” (John 6:14-15)
After seeing Jesus provide for the crowd, the multitude wanted to force Jesus to become a king. They still believed the Messiah was going to set up an earthly kingdom and make Israel a world power again. They assumed that the prophecies about Israel being destroyed and the Gentiles having power had already been fulfilled during the Persian, Greek, and Roman empires and ignored the details of Daniel 2 and Daniel 11. Over the centuries, hundreds of other groups have tried to set up Christ’s kingdom or the rapture, using parts of the scriptures while ignoring other parts. To prevent them from trying to make the prophecies happen before the proper time, Jesus left the crowd and went up into the mountains by himself.
“And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.” (John 6:16-21)
Late that evening, the disciples went back down to the seashore and started across the sea toward Capernaum and their homes. Jesus had not met them and sometime after dark a storm began. As experienced fishermen they knew how long it took to row across the Sea, and that they were about half way across, three or four miles out from shore when the saw Jesus walking on the water, catching up to them. They all saw him and knowing where they were assumed it was some kind of apparition or ghost were afraid until Jesus told them who he was. They were glad to see him and helped him into the boat. Immediately they arrived at the other shore. Each of the disciples note different aspects of the story, Matthew was amazed and remembered Peter walking on the water, Mark recorded the sudden quieting of the storm, and John recorded the instantaneous arrival on the other shore.