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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 2 - Light Shines in the Darkness (John 5:1 - 11:54)
B - Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:1-71)

1. Feeding the five thousand (John 6:1-13)

In Jerusalem Jesus disclosed his deity on the Sabbath by way of healing, showing the chasm between God’s love and the idle thoughts of the legalists. They resolved to do away with him in hate. The Holy Spirit led Jesus northward into Galilee, where the decisive break between him and his opponents would come to a head. The northern multitudes still followed him wherever he went.

JOHN 6:1–4
1 After these things, Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A great multitude followed him, because they saw his signs which he did on those who were sick. 3 Jesus went up into the mountain, and he sat there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Since Christ’s rebuke of the Legalists in Jerusalem, they had plotted against him and spied on him. But his hour had not yet come so he withdrew from the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin back to Galilee. As we read in the three earlier gospels he had performed many signs there. There was much uproar at the news of his arrival, but Jesus was not disturbed or taken in for He knew that the underhanded mentality he encountered in the capital would seep into the villages and he would be harassed there also. So he withdrew to the Golan, east of the Jordan, to be alone with his disciples. However, the crowds hungry for his words followed, wanting to experience his miracles. That year Jesus did not go back to Jerusalem for the Passover for the hour of his death was yet to come. He celebrated the feast with the multitudes around him, a substitute for the Passover; thereby pointing to the heavenly banquet where the Savior would join with his saints in great joy.

JOHN 6:5–13
5 Jesus therefore lifting up his eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that everyone of them may receive a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in that place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to those who were sitting down; likewise also of the fish as much as they desired. 12 When they were filled, he said to his disciples, “Gather up the broken pieces which are left over, that nothing be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten.

When Jesus saw the crowds approaching, he lifted his eyes towards his heavenly Father giving him honor and glory and committing to God the care of the hungry. With this the miracle began. The Father gave the Son the task that would uncover the hearts.

First, Jesus tested the disciples to see if their faith was growing or whether they were still bound to materialism and thought in worldly terms when he asked Philip about the source of supply for bread. We would think of bakeries but Jesus thought of his Father. We think of money matters and the high cost of living but Jesus thought of the Divine Helper. Instantly Philip thought of the costs to be incurred rather than turning to faith. Whoever looks to money fails to see the divine possibilities. The disciples calculations were reasonable: There were no bakeries or flour mills nearby and no time to make bread. But the people were there, hungry after a long session of listening to the Lord.

Suddenly the Spirit moved Andrew who noticed a lad with five loaves and two fishes. He called the boy, "Please give what you have of bread and fish." Andrew had his qualms, knowing that the amount of food was totally inadequate. So Jesus led the disciples to admit their failure since they did not know what to do, nor the will of God and what Jesus was about to do.

Jesus ordered the disciples to organize those present and they seated the people as if at a grand banquet.

Green grass covered the ground which could be a symbol of the faith sprouting in the crowds. Five thousand men with women and children is a vast number. Most of them had not seen Jesus before nor his works, but they settled down at his word.

Calmly Jesus took the loaves and resolved to demonstrate his creative might on this occasion. He laid before his Father the five loaves thanking Him for them. He believed that God would bless the small amount and multiply it to overflowing. The thanksgiving for the few and his honoring of the Father were the secret of this miracle. Do you gratefully accept the small amount that God gives or do you take it and complain? Do you share the little with friends? Jesus was unselfish; God’s love was abiding in him and He honored the Father and distributed God’s blessing to all.

This miracle recorded in all four gospels is introduced without fanfare. It is likely that none but those seated near Christ witnessed it and noticed that as he broke the loaves more appeared, and the supply seemed unending. They went back and forth distributing to all as each would take the amount that he needed. This is the sign of grace. God offers pardon and the Spirit without measure. Take what you will; believe to the degree you can. Give of the blessing to others. Bless them as you have been blessed and thus you will become a source of blessings to others.

In Cana Jesus changed water into wine, and in the Golan he turned the five loaves into a supply enough for five thousand people. Surprisingly more was left at the end of the feeding than the quantity at the start! The number of baskets filled with the leftovers were twelve and Jesus commanded that nothing be wasted. It is a shame that today people throw their leftover food into rubbish bins, despite knowing that every hour thousands die of starvation. Do not waste the blessings given you by your unconcern, but gather the crumbs of grace. You will gain more than you can hold of God’s bounty.

Visualize the young lad’s attitude when Jesus took the bread from his hands and he saw the loaves multiplying. His eyes must have opened in wonder. Never would he forget this miracle.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your patience and love. Forgive our lack of faith. Teach us to turn to you in distress, and not rely on our abilities, but rely on your resources. We thank you for the spiritual riches you granted us, and even for the little of the material possessions we hold. You will bless us in the day of our humble possessions, and help us not to waste anything or neglect our gifts.


  1. What is the secret of the feeding of the five thousand?


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