Text: John 6:1-13
The story of the feeding of the five thousand is one of the most popular ones recorded in the Bible. It actually appears in all the four Gospel accounts.
There are at least five characters in this story that I would like us focus on.
- A great crowd of five thousand men. The culture at that time focused on men, so the total count could have been up to 20,000 including women and children. These people had a great need: They were hungry but in a place where they could not buy food for themselves. This group represents needs around us, big or small.
- Jesus brings attention to the need: People are hungry and we should do something about it.: (V. 5 “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”)
- How can we meet the need?
- What is our responsibility?
- What are our limitations?
- Philip: (Verse 7 Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”) He rationalizes the situation. He is a person of numbers. He concludes, it is impossible to feed these people. Just give up on the idea and do other better things with your time and resources.
This is the easiest response for many people. You don’t have to be responsible for anything. You can blame your lack of involvement on the circumstances: the economy is just too bad, the political situation is not favorable; I am too young, I am too old; anyone in my situation knows that it is not possible. God also knows. There are way too many excuses we can come up with when we don’t want to be committed. Philip focuses on what is not there. There are no resources to meet the need.
- Andrew (Verses 8-9. 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?”). He reasons, “There is something available. I am not sure is can do anything but, well, it’s what we have.” Andrew focuses on what is there.
- The little boy (he wasn’t for sure among the 5,000 men). He was just as insignificant (according to the culture of his day) and his provision of five small loaves of bread and 2 fish (compared to the huge crowd). The little boy represents the seemingly insignificant means that God uses to accomplish His purposes. What is it that you have that you can offer to God to use for His glory?
Lessons: we all have opportunities to respond to the question Jesus raises. How can we respond to the great needs around us?
Where is our focus?
- The greatness of the need? Or,
- The possibilities (however minimal) available for us to meet the need?
There was surplus in the end. God’s resources are unlimited. He is a God of abundance. He has the power to do what He has promised to do.