Gospel: John 6:1-15
Epistle: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16
Lesson: Exodus 24:3-11
Psalm: Psalm 145
CLB Commentary – Rev. David Rinden
(Originally published in 2012)
The account of Jesus feeding the 5000 appears in all four Gospels. Not even Jesus’ birth gets that attention! Each writer follows the main story line, however, adds different details that should be considered when preparing a sermon on this text.
All accounts show that the crowds followed Jesus because they saw his signs and wanted to see more. All show the disciples encouraging Jesus to send the crowds away because they saw no way to feed the people. Only John reports the source of the two fish and five loaves of bread. John alone reports Andrew’s statement, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Obviously this was not as statement expressing joy in what Jesus was about to do. All report that Jesus fed everyone with this small lunch. All report twelve baskets of leftovers, presumably one for each disciple.
This account goes to the heart of Christ’s mission to the world. The people have a great need, but it isn’t primarily food, although Jesus took care of this need. The synoptic gospels indicate that Jesus saw the crowd as sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:54) and taught them concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. Further, he healed their sick, thus showing his divine power and authority. He was truly the Messiah spoken of by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). Jesus showed them that their greatest need was not for a king who could provide all their physical needs, but faith in a Savior, who as the bread of life, was all-powerful to forgive their sin.
In spite of this miraculous sign, and Jesus’ teaching, the people drew the wrong conclusion. Their messianic hope was more worldly than spiritual, a mistake we still make. We tend to see Jesus and his ministry in terms of what he physically can do for us; not in the great plan of his salvation for now and forever.
Further, this account shows the neediness of the disciples in acknowledging the need of the people and their inability to meet this need. Jesus showed them that even the little they had is enough when entrusted to him.
Jesus took two small fish and five small barley loaves and gave to the people by the hands of the disciples; and there was more than enough left over. Christ’s solution shows us that there is more than enough grace from God to go around to everyone who will proclaim it and who will partake of this rich feast.