Jesus Feeds The Multitude
A great multitude had been following Jesus for several days, listening to His teaching and beholding His miracles. Jesus had tried to “get away” to rest, but the needs of the crowd pressed on Him (Mark 6:31-34). Because of His compassion, He ministered to the multitude in three different ways.
Once this had transpired, Jesus made His way to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (which some these days call the Sea of Tiberias). As Jesus walked, a large crowd pursued Him hoping to see new signs and miracles; His healings of the sick and lame were garnering great attention. Jesus went up a mountain and found a place to sit down and teach. His disciples gathered around. The celebration of the Passover, one of the principal Jewish feasts, would take place soon.
John 6:1-4 (VOICE)
There were many reasons people followed Jesus. But this verse clearly states that one of the reasons the multitudes followed Him was because of the miracles of healing they saw Him perform. Miracles of healing act like a bell to draw people to the Lord. We need miracles as much today as they did in the days of the Lord’s physical ministry on earth.
This took place at Bethsaida just before the Passover. Jesus primarily intended this miracle to teach the disciples, although a witness of the Son of God’s power had also been impressed upon the multitude. In it, Jesus illustrated the kind of ministry His disciples would conduct after His departure: feeding people with spiritual food, and their source would be Christ Himself. They would have to replenish their supply of spiritual food continually by maintaining a close relationship with Him, but they would be responsible for feeding their congregations.
Jesus looked up then, and seeing that a vast multitude was coming toward Him, He said to Philip, Where are we to buy bread, so that all these people may eat?
John 6:5 (AMP)
Jesus asked Philip this question to expose any deficiency in His disciple’s faith. Jesus wasn’t at a loss for what to do about feeding these people. He was trying to make disciples out of these men. You see, these disciples had lived in the presence of Jesus and had seen Him perform every kind of creative miracle, including turning water into wine, cleansing lepers, and even raising the dead. Miracles were nothing novel to them. He wanted them to listen to the Holy Spirit and take a step of faith. But at this moment, they were being confronted with a problem that was totally different from anything they had faced before – they needed food to feel a multitude. Sadly, they pulled their wallets out and looked at their own resources instead of looking to God as their Provider.
It is amazing to me that after seeing Jesus perform possibly thousands of miracles, the disciples didn’t immediately say,
“Lord, we trust that You can provide for all these people!”
Instead, they went on a food search and frantically tried to solve this problem by themselves.
Is Jesus Testing You?
But He said this to prove (test) him, for He well knew what He was about to do.
John 6:6 (AMP)
Here, the English word “prove” was translated from the Greek word “PEIRAZO,” and this Greek word means,
“To explore, test, try, assay, examine, prove, attempt, and tempt” (Strong’s Concordance).
The word describes the testing of the believer’s loyalty, strength, opinions, disposition, condition, faith, patience, or character. PEIRAZO determines which way one is going and what one is made of.
So, Jesus was testing His disciples.
Obviously, there must be two different types of testing, or tempting: one that God does and one that He doesn’t do. Here, Jesus was discipling His disciples. He was training them. The Lord tests us in good ways that train us in what to do–similar to the way soldiers are trained, or employers give their employees tests to see if they can be promoted. But the Lord doesn’t tempt us with evil (James 1:13 and Matthew 6:13).
Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennies’ (forty dollars) worth of bread is not enough that everyone may receive even a little.
John 6:7 (AMP)
Philip certainly didn’t consider a supernatural solution. He and the other disciples began to “grasp at straws” as they went looking for a way to solve this problem through natural means.
Philip told Jesus, …“Two hundred pennies’ (forty dollars) worth of bread is not enough that everyone may receive even a little.” Philip didn’t realize God’s stores of supernatural provision are always more than enough.
It is simply a fact that new challenges often expose a deficiency in our faith and accentuate any weak area in our lives. Jesus knew exactly how He was going to meet the need, but He asked Philip the question so Philip’s lack of faith would be exposed – and so the disciples would see that there was still room for improvement in regard to the level of their faith!
Don’t be surprised if Jesus asks you to do something that seems impossible to your natural mind. When He tells you that He expects you to take a leap of faith and accomplish what others say can’t be done, His request may expose the fact that you need to work a little more on your faith! What a blessing that Jesus would ask us to do things that reveal who we really are – for only then will we really discover the areas of our faith that need improvement!
So the next time Jesus gives you a fabulous, impossible-looking job to do, rejoice if it reveals a little shakiness in your ability to believe. Now you know that you have a deficiency in your faith walk – and you can start today to do something about it!
Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.)
John 6:8-10 (NLT)
Andrew was not quite sure how the problem would be solved. He found a little boy who had a small lunch: two little fish and five barley cakes. Once again, Andrew is busy bringing somebody to Jesus (see John 1:40-42; 12:20-22). We do not know how Andrew met this lad, but we are glad he did! Though Andrew does not have a prominent place in the Gospels, he was apparently a “people person” who helped solve problems.
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. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”
John 6:11-14 (NLT)
The fourth solution came from our Lord, and it was the true solution. He took the little boy’s lunch, blessed it, broke it, handed it out to His disciples, and they fed the whole crowd! The miracle took place in the hands of the Saviour, not in the hands of the disciples. He multiplied the food; they only had the joyful privilege of passing it out. Not only were the people fed and satisfied, but the disciples salvaged twelve baskets of fragments for future use. The Lord wasted nothing.
The practical lesson is clear: whenever there is a need, give all that you have to Jesus and let Him do the rest. Begin with what you have, but be sure you give it all to Him.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I want to thank You for allowing me to be a part of Your great plans. You could use someone else, but You have chosen to use me. For this, I am so thankful to You. If there is any faith deficiency in me, please expose it NOW so I can get it fixed and be prepared for any assignment You give to me in the future!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am ready for God to use me! My faith is growing. It’s getting stronger, and the deficiency in my faith is being reduced day by day. There was a time when I was weak, but now God’s Word is making me stronger. There was a time when I would have doubted and feared, but now I am filled with faith. In fact, I’m excited about taking on ANY assignment Jesus Christ wants to give me!
I declare this my faith in Jesus’ name!