It’s All About The Bread

Photo by Tiago Leonardi on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 6. I love the Gospel of John, for it shows very clearly that Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. It is a book very much focused on His deity. John also has great narratives. Tonight we’re going to read a familiar narrative – the time Jesus fed above 5000 people. We are very familiar with this story, and it might seem to be a re-run with you. But I believe there is more great truth to be found in these texts.

The Feeding Of The Five Thousand Is the ONLY Miracle Found In All Four Gospels (Here, and Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17)

John 6:1-2 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

After these things”. After Jesus healed the crippled man by the pool of Bethesda (remember the FIVE porches around the pool. FIVE is the number of Grace). After the Pharisees sought to kill Jesus for healing someone on the Sabbath (John 5:16). After Jesus told the Pharisees that He, the Son of God, was both equal to God the Father, as well as a follower of God the Father. After Jesus told the Pharisees that the Scriptures they studied – the Old Testament writings – were all about Him. Jesus said:

John 5:39-40 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

John 5:46-47 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

The Bible has no accidental words, but every word is the pure Word of God. It all has meaning. The body of water Jesus crossed was called the sea of Galilee by the Jews, but the sea of Tiberias by the conquering Roman forces. The two sets of names are given because Jesus did not just come for the Jews – but for all people. The Bible says:

Colossians 3:11 … there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

John 6:3-4 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

The focus of Jesus’ ministry was teaching the Word of God. Jesus did not come to this earth to primarily heal people (though He did). Jesus came to share the Word of God with whosoever would listen. A crowd of people began to follow Jesus because of the miracles He did (verse 2). But

Preach: Jesus did not come to this earth to bring us temporary relief from suffering. He came to this earth to show us the love of God, and to show us how to love others. Jesus came, not to bring us to Heaven, but to bring Heaven to our hearts.

If you love God, you will love others. The two always come together. Jesus said that the protos, or foundational commandment is:

Matthew 22:37-40 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

If God is in you (that is, you are saved by faith in Christ, and the Spirit of God indwells you [“now if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His]), then you will love others. Love demands that you treat others the way you would be treated. We read:

John 6:5-6 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? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Jesus Knows What He Is Going To Do. Do We?

God the Son had been teaching His disciples. The day is slowly waning. So Jesus asks Philip a simple question, one that God often asks His people. He asks, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?. Love is concerned about the welfare of others. How can we feed this mass of people? The answer is very easy. How do we feed them? Jesus! Jesus will feed them! But it is ingrained into us as humans – fallen creatures from the days of Adam – to say “let ME fix it. I know what to do!” The right answer is, “the same Jesus Who healed the cripple in Bethesda, the same Jesus who rebuked the Pharisees, the same Jesus of Who the Old Testament prophesied – this same Jesus can feed this multitude”. Philip answers just as we would often do:

John 6:7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Philip’s suggestion is no suggestion at all. Philip just acknowledges that this is impossible. Looking at it from a human point of view, Philip says Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them. That is equivalent to about 200 days of labor, as the “penny” (the “dēnarion” or denarius) was about a day’s wage. Philip is looking at the size of the problem and comparing it to human ability. Of course, neither Philip nor any (or all) of the disciples can fix this problem. Love demands that these people be fed – but it is impossible by human standards that it be done. The task is just impossible. Philip is the “business meeting wet blanket”. “It can’t be done – let’s just walk away”.

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother (verse 8) speaks up. Andrew was the first disciple to come to Jesus in faith. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. He was there when John said of Jesus:

John 1:36 … Behold the Lamb of God!

Andrew immediately left following John the Baptist, and began to follow Jesus. Andrew, after staying with Jesus for a day, went and found his brother Simon (Peter), and told him:

John 1:41-42 … We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Andrew knew Jesus was the Messiah. But confronted with the problem that Jesus put before them, Andrew followed Philip’s negative lead. He says:

John 6:9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

When that young boy (“lad is the Greek παιδάριον paidárion, [pronounced pahee-dar’-ee-on] – “little boy”) left home that day to go and see Jesus, his mama, loving him, packed him a lunch. It was just enough for a child to eat. It was five barley loaves, and two small fishes. Just a tiny amount – five crackers and two little boy sized fish. I don’t think that Andrew robbed the boy. I think the little boy heard Jesus’ ask Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?. When the little fellow heard it, I believe he walked up to where Andrew was, and tugging on robe, showed him his little lunch. Andrew takes the little lunch, shows it to Jesus, and says what are they among so many?.

We as humans have, throughout our history, considered all of our problems through the puniness of our possession. We need to consider our problems with a single focus on God. Jesus said in another place:

Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

The word single is the Greek ἁπλοῦς haploûs, (pronounced hap-looce’) which means “simple, whole, sound”.

When we are challenged, we often get flustered, and run around in confusion, looking here and there for a fix. We’re not simple, but often simple minded!

If your eye is focused on the simple fix (which is JESUS), then your whole body will be filled with light. You will be joyous, blessed, overwhelmed with love. But if your eye is focused on the negative, on the impossibility, then your whole body will be filled with darkness, negativity, misery (Luke 11:34).

Philip, who had seen Jesus do miraculous things, is not focused on Jesus, but on the size of the problem before him. “It can’t be done”. Andrew, who was first to follow Jesus as Messiah, is not focused on Jesus, but on the size of the little boy’s meal. “It’s too little – it’s just not enough”. Neither has a suitable answer for the problem because their eye is not single, but wicked. Their eye is looking at the wrong thing.

Then there’s the little boy.
The paidárion, [pronounced pahee-dar’-ee-on].
Just a child.

The little boy hears Jesus’ question, runs to Andrew, and says “give this to Jesus”. The boy’s eye is single. His eye is focused. He’s not looking at the crowd. He’s not looking at the size of his meal. He’s looking at Jesus. He’s looking at Jesus.

The secret to the blessed life is to become like that little child, and simply focus on the Lord

  • When Solomon was given the daunting task of ruling Israel, he went to God in prayer:

1 Kings 3:7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

Lord, Yahweh, I do not know what to do. I’m just a little child – show me. Make me a good King, a King you can be proud of. And God did.

  • When Naaman the leper wanted to be healed, God told him to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times. When he became like a little child in his spirit, and did as God said:

2 Kings 5:14 Then went {Naaman} down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

  • When Jesus our Lord wanted to show us the faith that pleases God, the Bible says:

Matthew 18:2-4 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

A little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). There is nothing that our God cannot do. There is nothing that Jesus cannot fix.

  • In the Book of Zechariah, Zerubbabel led an exiled Israel back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, seventy years destroyed by Assyria. When the returnees saw what was before them, they wept. Such a monstrous task was before them – it was impossible to fix! But beloved,

With men, this is impossible; but with God ALL THINGS are possible” (Matthew 19:26)

There is nothing that God cannot do. There is nothing beyond the scope of the love of God. When Israel wept at the destruction of the Temple, God spoke through the Prophet, saying:

Zechariah 4:7-10 Who art thou, O great mountain? {for the task before them was MOUNTANOUS} before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain {God will do the impossible}: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. 8 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice…

Who can fix the Temple? God can!
Who can heal Naaman of Leprosy? God can!
Who can give the King wisdom? God can!
Who can feed five thousand? God can!

Zerubbabel shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. God will use Zerubbabel to kill the problem, and the headstone placed on that grave will say Grace, grace unto it. DO NOT DESPISE THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS!

Our God Is A Mountain Leveling God!

Take another look at that little boy’s lunch. When his mama packed it that day, what did she put in it? Five barley loaves, and two small fishes. Did you catch that? FIVE barley loaves. FIVE is the number of Grace! Jesus healed a cripple on one of FIVE porches in Bethesda. The little boy’s lunch had FIVE barley loaves.

Let’s read on.

John 6:10 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.

Jesus said Make the men sit down. He doesn’t need anybody’s help to do this. Sit down. You MUST sit down. Wait on the Lord.

Proverbs 20:22 … wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.

How many men sat down? FIVE thousand. What is the number of Grace? FIVE. Do you understand now? Sit down – wait on God.

John 6:11 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.

Who did the work? The Father. Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples. Jesus gave thanks to the Father, for the Father caused the multiplication. Jesus is the visible Member of the Godhead. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). “I work, and My Father works” (John 5:17). How did Jesus teach us how to pray?

Matthew 6:9-11 … Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread.

The Father is feeding the FIVE thousand with FIVE tiny loaves of bread. The Father is using the Son to do this. There is but ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). The Son takes the little, and depending on the Grace of God, thanks the Father for what He will do. The Father multiplies the loaves, as Jesus breaks them and passes them out. The disciples take this bounty from the grace of God, and distribute it to those sitting. All eat their fill.

John 6:12-13 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 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.

When they were done, and all had eaten, they gathered the leftovers. Let me ask you: Is the focus on FISH or BREAD?

According to this story, there’s NO FISH left over – at least, not that it’s mentioned. There were FIVE barley loaves, FIVE being the number of Grace. There were twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves. Why twelve? Because Jesus was feeding Jews, and there are twelve tribes in Israel.

God’s Grace is more than enough to feed Israel. God fed Israel in the wilderness under Moses. Now God is feeding Israel in the wilderness by Jesus. There is nothing our Jesus cannot do!

No matter what problem you encounter, Beloved, encounter it as a little child. Let your eye be single, simply focused on the Lord Jesus. Give Him the little you have, and let Him bless it, and make it sufficient unto the day. Our God is able. Our Jesus is able. Do not despise the power of Jesus! Let us now go to Him in prayer. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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