“Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftover pieces. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:1–15 NIV)

“Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftover pieces. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:1–15 NIV)

The feeding of the five thousand here in John 6 is an introduction to a larger story that unfolds in this chapter. Jesus announces to his followers and Israel that he is the “Bread of Heaven” and it is here where he made some powerful declarations that many of his disciples or followers could not handle and they left him.

It is here where we find Peter’s declaration after Jesus confronted his inner circle of disciples if they too wanted to leave, Peter said “John 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, John 6:69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68–69 ESV)

I also want you to know that this story of the five thousand is a true story; it is the only story together with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus that is repeated in the four Gospels.

At the heart of the story of the feeding of the five thousand lies a powerful truth. I believe that this account, so familiar to us it is asking us this question:

What are we feeding ourselves?

“As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.”

(Proverbs 27:19 NAS95)

What are we reflecting?

  • The account of the feeding of the five thousand reaches the whole of life and very necessity and sustainability of life.
  • It speaks about food.
  • It speaks about the poor.
  • It speaks about not being reckless.
  • It speaks to us about the promises of God who will always provide.
  • There are striking similarities with Moses and God’s provision of manna.
  • It exalts the name of Jesus.

I want to say three things about the accurate account of the feeding of the five thousand.

  1. The Test.

“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” (John 6:1–6 NIV)

There are a few things here that are worth noticing.

  1. Jesus, his disciples are now on the far shore of the Sea of Galilee, this is the North side of Galilee, and this is where Philip comes from, it could be why Jesus asked Philip the question about feeding all the people.
  2. Once again, the people are following Jesus because of the miraculous signs and healing that Jesus did. The turning the water into wine, the recovery of the Royal Official, the Lame Man, and all the healing that he did in Judea.
  3. He went up on a mountainside, possible Golan Heights – Which is an occupied territory of Israel in Syrian land. It is in here where Jesus sits down with his disciples – To sit down is the preferred posture of a Teacher, a Rabbi to teach his students.
  4. The Jewish Passover feast was near.

These points are significant because I want you to imagine what it was like to be there. I want you to imagine that you are the crowd. You are part of the multitude, and you belong to the five thousand. It would be best if you didn’t think that you are one of the disciples, but you are with your family following Jesus. You have heard what he has done, and you are now expectant of what he is going to do now. If you are, then it will not be crazy to think of the close similarities with one of the most influential figures in Judaism – Moses.

It is near the Passover Festival, Jesus and his disciples are on a mountainside. The crowd are following Jesus, and what he is about to do will trigger something in the minds for them to think of Jesus as Moses, the Prophet has appeared.

It is in this context that Jesus asks Philip this critical question:

“John 6:5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” John 6:6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” (John 6:5–6 NIV11-GKE)

Jesus saw the great crowd. He realised that these people needed to be fed – there are five thousand men, plus their families! That is a great crowd. Jesus had compassion.

He asked Philp “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?

Now, this is interesting, Jesus does not say “send the people to buy food”, but he is saying “Phil! we should buy bread for all these people, do you know where we can go and get it?

I want you to know now that Jesus is taking the initiative, just like he did with the “lame man”. But also Jesus is talking about US and not just HiM.

Jesus’ concern and compassion is just a matter that relates to him. Still, Jesus includes the disciples into that compassion, and they are part of the solution of relieving the hunger of the people or at least to provide the bread. “Jesus’ mission is our mission!”

Phil does not know what he is being tested. We do know that he is being tested because it is here in the text. We do know that Jesus already knew what he was about to do, “for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” Philip did not know that.

So now I want you to be Philip! What would you do? What would be your answer?

The truth is that Jesus can do anything and everything. Jesus can test our Faith. He tests our faith in him, and we are tested in times of trials!

“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.” (Proverbs 17:3 NIV)

The reason why our faith is tested it is because it will determine if our lives bring praises and honour to the Lord. “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7 ESV)

I have found that when I am tested, it is because I need to grow and mature in my relationship with God and many times is about how I respond to the challenges of life either with a heavenly mindset or an earthly mindset. Do I believe that my answers are earthly bound or heavenly bound?

Am I reflecting faith?

There is an anticipation that Jesus is about to do something big!!

2. The Miracle


“Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (John 6:7–11 NIV11-GKE)

Philip said that it would require so much money to buy enough food just for a small bite! You would expect Philip to reason more in line with what Jesus was already doing; he was there when all the other miracles and signs that Jesus performed, which were all mouth dropping.

But, let us be fair, the question is not about if Jesus is capable to provide, we know that he is and capable. But it’s about “we”, “us”. It is we together with Jesus. Can we do what Jesus does? Yes, we can, the to prove it we need to look at text!
Andrew heard Jesus’ conversation with Philip, and he thought “right we need to something”. He understood the “We” part of the question. Andrew, the brother of Peter, found a boy who was carrying some food that possibly was for him and his family! Five loaves of Bearly bread, which was the bread of the poor, and two fishes.

We all know what he brought was not even enough for one family, but it was enough for Jesus!!

I hope you are getting what I am saying!

Faith is tested; it does not mean the quality of faith. But if in our hearts, there is enough trust, as small as a tiny mustard seed, then we can move mountains!! “… Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NIV)

If what we have is as a small mustard seed, but we offer it in faith! We can feed thousands and move mountains! This is a Biblical Principle!!
Jesus, who knew what he was doing! I love the fact that there is someone, Jesus, who knows what he is doing!!

Jesus asked everyone to sit down and give thanks! In other Gospel says that he looks up and gives thanks for the bread and the fish. He took what it looks like to be insignificant, the poorest of food, and made a banquet with it. The fish kept coming, and the bread kept coming until all had enough to eat, and they collected 12 baskets with leftovers, nothing was wasted!!

Did Jesus do this on purpose? Yes, he is telling them and us that one greater than the Prophet Moses is Here!!

  1. The Prophet

“John 6:14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” John 6:15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:14–15 NIV)

Now, please think of yourselves as those seating with the crowd. I want you to imagine what thought was happening!

  • It was a mountain
  • It is near the Passover
  • Jesus asked them to sit down and give thanks for the five loaves of Barley Bread and two fish.

What does this look like? What were they thinking?

This is Manna!!
This is Moses!!

How do we know that? Because of what they say!! They saw and ate food. It was a massive sign that people interpreted Jesus to be “The Prophet, who is to come into the world”. This was prophesied by Moses back in Deuteronomy, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15 NIV)

If there was a time when Jesus mission was in danger, it was here! There are two other episodes where Jesus’ mission was in trouble when Satan tempted him, and after the before his death! Jesus was in danger of being made KING by Force!! There is a powerful force lurking around when the actual manifestations of the divine are present.

The word for “force” is the word “snatch away” it is a word associated with the evil one! Matt 13:19 says “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” (Matthew 13:19 NAS95)
Jesus was going to be made king by force! That was never the plan of God.

What did Jesus do? He runs away from them, and he went deep into the mountain!! The only way that Jesus was going to be King was through his death and resurrection!

This sign was meant to point to Jesus, and it does!
Jesus, in the rest of the chapter, tells this crowd that they only come to him because of the signs he performs and because they have their fill, but they don’t believe in him. Jesus tells them that the real Bread of Heaven is the one who gives life to the world! Those who are listening to Jesus asked him “Sir give us this bread”, and Jesus said “… I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 NIV11)

This fourth sign points to Jesus, the bread of life!

Published by darioleal

Dario is a husband, father, pastor and passionate pursuer of Jesus and His Kingdom. He is a Pastor, loyal friend, and walks the walk when it comes to being a carrier of God's presence. He expects things to happen when he prays for people. He loves having fun and eating olives (preferably at the same time).

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