JESUS FEEDS THE 5,000
Ephesians 3:20a, ESV
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think...
MARK 6:7-13, NIrV
7 He called the 12 disciples to him. Then he began to send them out two by two. He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits.
8 Here is what he told them to do. “Take only a walking stick for your trip. Do not take bread or a bag. Take no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals. But do not take extra clothes. 10 When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Some places may not welcome you or listen to you. If they don’t, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet. That will be a witness against the people living there.”
12 They went out. And they preached that people should turn away from their sins. 13 They drove out many demons. They poured olive oil on many sick people and healed them.
The twelve disciples had followed Jesus all over the place. They listened as he taught huge crowds of people about the kingdom of God. They watched as he did mighty miracles. They'd seen him calm a stormy sea, heal those who were sick, and drive away evil spirits. After a while, Jesus decided they needed to take a break from watching and start doing! He split them into six pairs, told them to pack lightly, and sent them to go and do what they'd seen and heard him do. And as they obeyed, God gave the disciples the power to perform the same types of amazing miracles they saw Jesus do!
+ What did the pairs of disciples say to the people they met? (vs. 12)
+ What miracles did God give them the power to do? (vs. 13)
MARK 6:30-34, NIrV
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus. They told him all they had done and taught. 31 But many people were coming and going. So they did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said to his apostles, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place. You need to get some rest.”
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a quiet place. 33 But many people who saw them leaving recognized them. They ran from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus came ashore, he saw a large crowd. He felt deep concern for them. They were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
As they returned from their trip, the disciples were both excited and exhausted. They were excited to share the amazing things God had done through them, but they were exhausted from working so hard and traveling so far. Jesus suggested they head off in a boat to find a quiet place to rest. However, when they reached that quiet place, they were met by a noisy crowd eager to talk to Jesus! When he saw the people, Jesus felt that they were like lost, little sheep without a shepherd to protect them. So instead of resting and relaxing, Jesus spent the rest of his day teaching!
+ Why did Jesus want his disciples to rest?
+ How did the crowd end up at the quiet place before Jesus and the disciples? (vs. 33)
MARK 6:35-37, NIrV
35 By that time it was late in the day. His disciples came to him. “There is nothing here,” they said. “It’s already very late. 36 Send the people away. Then they can go to the nearby countryside and villages to buy something to eat.”
37 But Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s pay! Should we go and spend that much on bread? Are we supposed to feed them?”
With the sun was starting to set, the disciples thought, "Finally! We can send these people home. They can get some food and we can get some peace and quiet!" But Jesus had a different idea. "You give them something to eat." The disciples could hardly believe their ears! Did Jesus really want them to feed the sea of people standing in front of them? It would cost two hundred denarii (half a year's pay) for a dozen disciples to buy dinner for a crowd of thousands! The disciples just didn't have that kind of cash. When they first followed Jesus, they had left everything they owned behind!
+ What did the disciples want Jesus to do? (vs. 35-36)
+ Why did the disciples have trouble believing Jesus’ plan was a good idea?
JOHN 6:8-9, NIRV
8 Another of his disciples spoke up. It was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He said, 9 “Here is a boy with five small loaves of barley bread. He also has two small fish. But how far will that go in such a large crowd?”
The Bible book of John gives us an extra detail that wasn’t included in Mark’s book. After hearing Jesus’ hard-to-believe plan (“You give the people something to eat!”) and how the disciples reacted (“It would cost us half a year’s pay to buy them all bread!”), one of the disciples spoke up. His name was Andrew, the brother of Peter, the leader of the disciples. He brought a boy to Jesus who had five loaves of bread and two fish. This was a lot of food for one little boy to eat, but it was nowhere near enough food to feed a crowd of thousands of hungry men, women, and children!
+ How much food did the boy have? (vs. 9)
+ How many people do you think you could feed with five loaves of bread and two fish?
MARK 6:39-44, NIRV
39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of 100s and 50s. 41 Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up to heaven and gave thanks. He broke the loaves into pieces. Then he gave them to his disciples to pass around to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 All of them ate and were satisfied. 43 The disciples picked up 12 baskets of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of men who had eaten was 5,000.
Five loaves of bread and two fish wasn't even enough to feed twelve disciples, but it was more than Jesus needed to fill the thousands of hungry bellies around him! He thanked God for the food, broke it into bits, and told his disciples to pass it out. They probably wondered, "How can this possibly work?" But as they began passing out the bites of bread and fish, their questions were answered. No matter how many people they served, they never reached the bottom of their baskets! Everyone ate until they were stuffed. There were even twelve baskets of leftovers, one for each disciple!
+ How many men were there that ate? (vs. 44)
Fun Fact: Only the men were counted. If there were an equal number of women and kids, that means Jesus could have actually fed 15-20,000 people!
JOHN 6:14-15, NIRV
14 The people saw the sign that Jesus did. Then they began to say, “This must be the Prophet who is supposed to come into the world.” 15 But Jesus knew that they planned to come and force him to be their king. So he went away again to a mountain by himself.
The Bible doesn't say exactly how Jesus fed thousands using a few loaves of bread and a little fish. When the disciples passed out a piece of bread, did a new one pop out of nowhere to replace it? As they broke off a piece of fish, did the leftover bit grow to its original size? We may not know exactly how it happened, but we do know why it was possible. Jesus was the all-powerful son of God. Turning a few loaves and fishes into a feast for 5,000 fellows and their families was a piece of cake for him!
This should have come as no surprise to Jesus's disciples. After all, they had seen him turn water into wine, drive out an army of evil spirits, and order a stormy sea to be quiet. Each of these mighty miracles was a sign that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the special savior sent by God.
About 1,500 years before Jesus was born, a man named Moses wrote about him. In his book called Deuteronomy, Moses promised that God would send a powerful prophet to speak his words. After seeing Jesus turn a few bits of food into a belly-stuffing meal, the people in the crowd said, “This Jesus must be the special Prophet that Moses told us to look for!" They believed Jesus was the long-promised Messiah. And they wanted to crown him king that very instant!
But before they could throw him onto a throne and cram a crown on his head, Jesus grabbed his disciples and dashed out of there! Why did he leave? Because Jesus knew what they were thinking. He knew what this crowd really wanted.
They wanted a king that could fill their bellies with miracle meals. They wanted a king who could heal their diseases and take care of all of their problems. They wanted a king who did everything they wanted and never asked them to do anything!
But the mission of Jesus the Messiah wasn’t just to fill empty bellies or fix the sick. He came to take care of a much bigger problem: our sin! Every single one of us has sinned; we’ve all disobeyed God’s good commands. And God tells us that our sin comes with a big consequence: a forever, fiery death outside of the goodness of God! That’s a problem way bigger than a hungry stomach or even a deadly disease!
But just as Jesus had the power to feed the 5,000, he also had the power to save us from our sins. Jesus allowed himself to be nailed to a wooden cross and die. Why? To pay the forever-death price of our sin! And with the same power that created bottomless baskets of bread and fish, Jesus raised his dead body back to life! Here's the good news: the Bible tells us that everyone who turns away from their sins and trusts in King Jesus will spend forever in his perfect kingdom!
+ Why did the crowd want to make Jesus their king?
+ What did Jesus come into our world to do?