Sitting with Jesus: The Feeding of 5000 Men Beside Women and Children
Read: John 6:1-15
I have always loved this historical miracle of Jesus. The first time that I really stood up for my faith in Jesus was in the classroom at Crypt School, during what became a debate led by Mr Bowyer, our Religious Studies Teacher and other Christians. He had declared that, “the boy triggered a spirit of sharing generosity.” When the crowd saw the boy’s response, giving his 5 loaves and 2 fish they decided to do the same and offered their packed lunches too. It all led to there being more than enough. I told Mr Bowyer, and all my class members that that was a load of rubbish! Jesus is The Miracle Worker!
Something rose up in me that day. I would now say that, “The Holy Spirit gave me His Word for that class and situation.” Thankfully and interestingly He has been doing it ever since!
Jesus’ motivation for doing miracles is made plain in (John 5:19) “very truly I tell you, The Son can do nothing by Himself: He can only do what He sees The Father doing, because whatever The Father does The Son does also.”
(John 5:36b) “The works that The Father has given Me to finish, the very works that I am doing – testify that The Father has sent Me.”
For Jesus it’s all about bringing Glory to Heavenly Father! The people on the other hand are looking for a king – to meet their personal needs and to overthrow the Roman Empire.
Read: v1 – 4
John sets the scene for us. It’s nearing Passover time. The winter chill has gone and the warm breeze and wild flowers of March/April are beginning to appear.
The crowds followed Jesus for a good reason (v2b) “Because they saw the signs He had performed by healing the sick.”
The idea for this series of studies, “Sitting With Jesus,” came when I was reading this passage (v2) “Jesus went up a mountainside and sat down with His disciples.” This is a physical position taken by any Rabbi in Jesus’ day to teach – It’s interesting that during these Covid days – on Zoom meetings, teaching has been given by those sitting down, in front of a screen.
- Jesus Looked Up and Saw a Great Crowd (v5a) “Coming toward Him.” There is intentionality in their approaching Jesus – We want to receive from You Jesus! It must have been quite a sight 5,000 men, besides women and children. 15,000 + people in all.
- Jesus Looked Directly into Philip’s Eyes
(v5b) “Philip, where shall we buy bread for these people to eat? “Pondering Philip” – pragmatic, theoretic, reflective Philip. (Please, there’s no criticism from me of Philip here – that’s my natural profile too!) Philip calculates, and replies, (v7) “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite”….. Interestingly we are told (v6) that Jesus, “asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do!”
Activist Andrew,” who often lived under the shadow of Simon Peter, his brother – obviously went off to look for an answer (v9) “Here is a boy with 5 loaves and 2 small fish – But how far will they go among so many?”
- Jesus Looked Directly into the Boy’s Eyes
I suggest that Jesus’ eyes sparkled!
The boy was put at ease, in wonder!
Now, we know what Jesus had in mind. None of those present did – only Heavenly Father knew!
The Open Handed, Open Hearted boy just said, “Jesus I’ll share what I have – Here You are Jesus – over to you. Wow! What a story he’d be able to tell as he sat down at the meal table with his children and grand-children in the future.
Jesus gives us one of the greatest lessons in physical distribution that the world has ever known. (v10) “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place.” Dr Luke (Luke 9:14) says, “Jesus sat them in groups of 50.
For many, in these Covid days, life is hard. Will there be enough? Enough to pay the bills? Enough to put food on the table? Enough to see us through?
I grew up in a Christian home, for which I am now so very, very grateful. I remember going to Nan & Grandad Yates’ home. To Jill’s Grandad and Granny Perks – their lifestyle was that of Thanksgiving at the table. They’d lived through the depression. Two world wars. Through recessions. On the day of my Nan’s funeral I heard my Dad & Uncle say of their 94 year old mother – “She fed everyone else first, then she ate.” They taught me, and my brothers, to do what Jesus did (v11) “Give Thanks”……. “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”
I wonder if Jesus looked at the boy and whispered, “Look at what we can do when we work together!” (?)
Read: John 6:12 – 13
“Let Nothing be Wasted (v12b)
(Isaiah 55:10f) “As the rain and the snow come down from Heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to me empty (void), but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper, and instead of briars the myrtle will grow. This will be for The Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
- The Lord Jesus is more than enough!
- What we offer Him, He makes more than enough!
On that particular day (v14) “After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, surely this is The Prophet who is come into the world.”
Jesus knew, as He always knows, what’s going on in the hearts and intentions of man. (v15) “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.
It is amazing what Jesus can achieve through a life yielded to Him! We see that through the act of this unnamed boy……
I’m thoroughly enjoying, and recommend, Max lucado’s latest book entitled ‘You are Never Alone.” In it, on p55 – 56, he shares the story of Biddy Chambers, I had never heard of her. I quote:-
“Had she (Biddy Chambers) given up, no one would have criticised her. Had she walked away, no one would have thought less of her. Her God given assignment was to partner with her husband in teaching The Bible. They met in 1908 by 1910 they were married, living in London, and busy about their dream of starting a Bible College. They purchased a large home and made rooms available for students and missionaries on furlough.
Biddy’s training was in stenography. She took careful notes of her husband’s lectures and turned them into correspondence courses. At the outbreak of World War One he felt a call to minister to soldiers in Egypt. He, and Biddy, and their 2 and half year old daughter moved to the Middle East, where he took a position as a Chaplain. The ministry continued. He taught, she transcribed. He lectured, she captured the messages. It was a perfect partnership. Then came the setback. Her husband’s complications from appendicitis rendered Biddy a widow. Her husband died at the age of 43. She buried him in Egypt and returned to London, to face the question: How could she partner with her husband if her husband had gone? All dreams of a teaching ministry would need to be abandoned, Right? No! Biddy chose to give God her loaves and fishes. She set about the work of turning her husband’s notes into pamphlets mailing them to friends and acquaintances. Eventually they were compiled into a book, “My Utmost for His Highest,” published in 1927.
No one could have predicted the impact that this volume would have upon its readers – who included, the earliest devotees – Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Henrietta Mears, Bill Wilson, Bob Smith, George W Bush Snr. 13 million copies have been sold. Translated into 35 languages. The work of Oswald Chambers surely exceeded his fondest hopes! But it was the sincere faith of his wife, Biddy, that made the difference.
I must close. But in a week when we heard that Captain Sir Tom Moore passed away. His life challenges us to use what we have for others and to see what can be achieved for God through it….. Like so many who have gone before us, including one boy on a hillside, let’s give Jesus what we have – our 5 loaves and 2 fish – Give Thanks and watch Him work through us – for The Father’s Glory!