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The Feeding of the 5,000

The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four gospels. John’s account says Jesus “tests” Philip (6:6) because He knows what He’s about to do. He wants to strengthen His disciples’ faith in Him. Make no mistake — this is a dramatic story. There were more leftovers than what they started with. Even the crowd recognized this miraculous moment (v. 14). In fact, the people were ready to make Him king (v. 15).

So, what can we learn from this miracle?

Don’t concentrate on what you don’t have: Visualize the enormity of this problem. There are 5,000 men. Add in women and children, and you’re talking anywhere from 10,000 or 15,000, maybe even 20,000 people. Philip did the math (6:7). But he left Jesus out of the equation. Even with just five loaves and two fish, Andrew turned them over to Jesus and He did the rest. Whatever we have is enough if we place it in the Master’s hands. But we can be quick to see what we can’t do or what we don’t have. Don’t forget that Jesus is with us, just like He was standing next to His disciples.

Don’t offer excuses, but extend compassion: Let’s not overlook the fact that this miracle came on the heels of great tragedy. Jesus had just learned about the death of His cousin and dear friend, John the Baptist (Matt. 14:12-13). But despite His heavy heart, Jesus had compassion on the people who were following Him (Matt. 14:14). He had great love for them, even in the midst of facing His own loss. Jesus didn’t make excuses; He made sacrifices. The question for us is, as disciples of Jesus, what sacrifices are we willing to make, or do we just offer up excuses not to serve, come to services or have a relationship with Jesus?

Do realize the gospel message is spiritual, not physical: As we continue reading John 6, it is clear that Jesus did not want people who came to Him because they knew they would be fed. He sternly rebukes them in v. 26. Later in the chapter, “many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (v. 66). They do the unthinkable. What a discouraging scene. But food was never used to attract people to the gospel. Jesus’ primary concern was the hearts of the crowd — those who wanted to know Him and follow Him. Jesus does not accept a superficial following of Him.

Are we seeking after the same things Jesus sought in John 6?

Steven Matthews


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