The Gospel of John, The Period of Controversy, The Claims of Jesus Christ, The Witnesses for Christ, Part VII, John 6:5-13 - Lesson 37
Read Verses 6:1-4, for review:
Verse 6:5,6, When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Phillip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
Jesus sees a need and he has a plan.
But he includes his disciples in the search for a solution.
This is good management, this is good leadership.
You bosses, you may know the answer but seek counsel from those you lead.
It will be good for their growth and it also proves them.
You may find out that you don't know it all after all!
Jesus checks to see where the disciples are on their path of faith.
He confronts Phillip.
He puts Phillip in a trying situation.
He chooses the disciple carefully who is best fitted to carry out his will.
Phillip was from the neighboring town of Bethsaida and he would know where bread could be purchased.
He knew all the corner grocery stores.
He knew all the local bakeries.
What would Phillip do?
What would you do?
Will he get past the worldly limitations that we so easily confine ourselves to or will faith in God carry him to higher plains of living?
He said this to prove him.
Jesus stirred Phillip to see what he was made of, faith wise.
Does Phillip limit himself with the resources that he sees or will he see Jesus and see the resources that Jesus has and what Jesus can do?
As we move along the road of faith is it second nature to us to see the resources of God to help us solve problems while we serve him?
Or do we do the opposite and only see and use the resources that we see with our eyes.
Listen to the reminder of this poem:
The birds without barn, or storehouse are fed;
From them let us learn to trust for our bread.
His saints what is fitting shall ne'er be denied,
So long as, tis written, "The Lord will provide."
When Satan appears to stop up our path,
And fills us with fears, We triumph by faith:
He cannot take from us, Though oft he has tried,
The heart cheering promise, "The Lord will provide."
But let's see if Phillip proves to be faithful or faithless.
Verses 6:7-9, Phillip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 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?
Philip is an accountant.
He uses arithmetic to prove himself.
He says, Every problem's solution boils down to money.
He draws his conclusion from the circumstances.
He is under the circumstances.
Not a good place to be for one who is to live by faith.
He looks at the size of the multitude. Not good!
He is looking the wrong way.
Jesus said he is the way.
But Philip sees the solution only in terms of money. Not good!
He says, Let's look at this logically.
How much will an offering bring?
Maybe with this crowd we can raise 200 pennyworth.
Just figure it! Money is the thing we need to solve this problem.
A days wage was about one pennyworth or a denarius in those days.
So amongst 5000 men we can raise 200 days of wages or in today's money between one and two dollars per man.
He says this is not sufficient that every one of them, including the women and the children, may take a little.
He is finished. The problem cannot be solved.
He is sure of what cannot be done, but he had no vision for what could be done.
He did not include God in his equation.
Faith in God was not included in his thinking.
While Philip was coming to this conclusion, Andrew spotted a little boy who had come to the meeting with his dinner.
Perhaps his Mother had packed it for him and he was getting ready to eat it as evening approached.
Barley loaves, the food of the poor and five small fishes, perhaps salted and about the size of sardines.
Andrew is getting closer.
He sees a possibility but as he too calculates the possibility and comes to the conclusion that it does not meet the need.
Philip's faithlessness infects Andrew.
No eyes of faith are displayed here.
He too looks to the physical and neglects the power of God in his calculations.
He calculates without Christ.
He too tries his own way as "the Way" stands before him.
He stands alone thinking that he has only nature's resources to call upon.
He leans to his own understanding.
They both fail the test, but they are still in the Lord's primary school of faith and they will learn from this to trust Christ as the one and only all sufficient One.
He does not rebuke them.
There were no harsh words for Philip and Andrew.
Christ still loves Philip and Andrew even though they fail the test of faith.
He knows their frame and he shows them this sign that they might learn to believe, to put their day to day trust in this Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.
Verse 6:10,11, 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 remembers the grass.
It was the springtime.
The time of Passover.
The grass was new and it was a comfortable place chosen by the Lord to feed the multitudes.
He loved them and wanted them to have a nice place to enjoy this special meal.
Mark tells us that it was green grass.
The sheep were there to be fed in green pastures by the word of God.
He also tells us that they sat in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.
How did they do that? It tells us something about the culture of that day.
They had a discipline about themselves so different than what we see today.
Adults are almost impossible to move in groups.
But Jesus insisted on doing this decently and in order.
He knew what he would do and he carries out his plan perfectly.
John tells us that there were five thousand men.
Add the woman and the children and perhaps there were as many as 15,000 people, twice the population of the city of Milton.
An enormous crowd; thousands of men, women, and children.
There stand the disciples, helpless before such an impossible task.
You would be also.
The disciples obey his word to make the men sit down.
It appears that the women and children were left standing and not in the ranks.
Jesus had the men sit down in order to receive food in amounts sufficient for their families.
They would then distribute it to their wives and children who were standing away from the seated ranks.
Here is an example of the verse in Eph. 5:23, where Paul calls the husband the savior of the body.
God uses the man to provide for the physical needs of the family and Jesus, in performing this miracle, honors that system.
Jesus faced 50 groups of 100 each or 100 groups of 50 each.
All in orderly ranks with their mouths open ready to be waited on by the disciples.
All of the food coming from one central person.
Remember when Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep.
This is a perfect example showing where Peter gets the food from.
To feed the sheep of Christ the food has to come from Christ.
Food from other sources has no nutritional value for the sheep.
Food other than from the hand of Jesus Christ has zero daily spiritual vitamin requirements.
No spiritual value whatsoever.
The right kind of food has to come from the hand of Christ if the sheep are to be fed.
Notice the order of the thanksgiving prayer of the Lord.
He gives thanks then he distributes the food.
First things first!
He acknowledges the Father as the one on whom he depended.
Remember he had said the he could do nothing of himself.
He looks to the Father as he prepares to perform this astounding miracle.
Perhaps he used the regular Jewish form of thanksgiving and said, Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth.
He then gives the bread to the disciples, multiplied by his hand, and then the fishes, likewise made enough to satisfy every appetite.
No one goes away from Jesus Christ hungry.
This was an "all you could eat buffet" to satisfy everyone's need.
We see here how Christ feeds the hungry multitudes, but he uses the hands of his disciples to do it.
He gave them opportunity to join in the work of God.
He gave the increase, but they performed the distribution.
God uses both his word and you to minister to hungry people.
He always satisfies both.
Verse 6:12,13, When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing may 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.
Philip remarked that they would only have a little based on his figures, but here John tells us that they all were filled.
Philips analysis was based on unbelief but Jesus provision was based on the outpouring of divine grace.
The lesson is that when Christ feeds his people they are always satisfied.
Later in this chapter in verse 35, we will hear Christ say, He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Their bodies were filled, but fragments, leftovers of food, remained.
The Lord is careful not to waste.
But he also had a lesson to teach the disciples.
Their work was not yet finished.
Gather up the leftovers, he tells them.
See! You have given all those that hungered enough and more than enough to satisfy their hunger and you have more left over than you started with.
Proverbs 11:25 tells us that the liberal soul shall be made fat.
Jesus shows us by this miracle that you cannot give your all to God because you will always have sufficient and more than enough left over for your needs.
He shows us that we are never impoverished but we will always be richer by giving to others.
One of his principles is that he never allows a generous giver to be the loser.
Jesus lives this proverbs in chapter 11, verse 24, There is that scattereth and yet increaseth.
And when all the gathering was done each disciple had a basket of fragments!
The reward of obedient service by each of the disciples was immediate.