Jesus: Heavenly Provider (6:1-14)

Bible Passage: John 6:1-14

This well known-story is the only miracle of Jesus (other than the resurrection itself) that is included in all four gospels. In John’s telling, the feeding of the five thousand is presented as the fourth of seven signs that Jesus did – miraculous deeds that were supposed to point beyond themselves and show something about who Jesus is. This is exactly what happened to those present at the time, who began to speculate that Jesus might be the prophet like Moses who was promised in the Old Testament.

Jesus the Miracle-Doer: By this stage of his ministry, Jesus had attracted a large following. Crowds of hangers-on were following Jesus as he taught on both sides of lake Galilee. They had seen the signs that he had done and this had caused them to stick around in the hope of seeing more. This is not a bad thing in itself, but it is not enough. Through John’s gospel, the relationship between seeing signs and following Jesus is complex. The signs are meant to get people’s attention, but the attention is not supposed to stay on the signs but rather to be focussed on Jesus himself. The challenge for this crowd (and perhaps for us) is to move out of spectator-mode that observes Jesus as work from a distance and draw close into personal relationship with Jesus himself.

Jesus the Heavenly Provider: This sign gives another clue who Jesus is. Where there was a large crowd and only a small amount of food, Jesus miraculously multiplied the bread and fish so there was plenty for everybody. This is a parallel os the story from Exodus 16 where God miraculously provided the people of Israel with bread from heaven. Jesus is recreating a sign that his heavenly Father did in the Old Testament, and demonstrating what he taught in the previous chapter, that ‘whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.’ Jesus’ provision is so thorough that the leftovers totalled more than the bread that there was to begin with!

Jesus the Empowerer: One of the significant features of this miracle is the way Jesus drew other people in and worked through them. He asked Philip where they could buy enough bread, and it was Andrew who highlighted the boy with five loaves and two fish. Even thinking to mention this in light of the scale of the problem is a significant expression of faith from Andrew. And it was the boy who gave his lunch to be shared around. All of these people had the opportunity of being involved in this divine provision from Jesus. This sign not only shows that Jesus has the power to do miracles, but also that he loves to involve ordinary people in his work.

Potential Applications:

  • Jesus here provided for many people. There will be some in the congregation with particular provision needs at the moment and you could offer prayer for Jesus to provide for these needs.
  • Encourage people to bring whatever small offering they have to Jesus and see how he multiplies it – this can include time, gifting and finance.
  • Encourage people to step out and pray for others in their lives. Jesus work through ordinary people to do his work, and that means he works through you and me.