Text: John 6: 1-13, (KJV)“After these things Jesus were over the sea of Galilee which is the sea of Tiberius. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the Passover of the Jews was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he said unto Philip,  Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said unto him. There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down: and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.”

Introductory Remarks

I want us to look at a very special day in the life of Jesus where two important things took place that the disciples were witness to. First – Jesus fed five thousand with five loaves and two fishes. Second – Jesus walked on water.

The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of the Lord that is recorded in all four gospels. This is really unusual when you think of all the miracles that Jesus performed in three and one half years of ministry. The miracle is recorded in Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6. Each of the gospel writers has something to say about this miracle feeding that perhaps the others might have omitted in their telling of the story. When they are all put together, an interesting story begins to unfold before us. I want us to consider the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand as being more than just a demonstration of the power of God by Jesus. It’s more than the Lord Jesus looking upon a group of people who had followed him all day listening to his teaching and were now tired and hungry and he was going to feed them miraculously. There’s much more to be discovered in this than that.

Point I:

Before looking at John’s version of the feeding of the five thousand, we need to first read Mark’s story of what happened afterwards when Jesus walked on the water in the midst of a storm.

Reading Mark 6: 45-52 (KJV)

“And straightaway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship and to go to the other side before into Bethsaida, while he sent the people away. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit and cried out: for they all saw him and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them and saith unto them, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased; and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.”

This is the story of what followed the miracle of the loaves. The disciples enter into a boat to cross over to the city of Bethsaida. Jesus was going to meet them there. When out in the lake, a storm arose that threatened to capsize their boat and endanger their lives. Fear and anxiety gripped the disciples hearts and they began to panic in the throes of the strong wind and waves.

Now notice in verse 52 that Mark tells us that something that had happened that afternoon should have helped them that night on the sea. Verse 52 reads, “They considered not the miracle of the loaves.” I strongly suggest to you that in the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus was teaching them something that would be a help to them in the midst of life’s storms. When Jesus performed this miracle, it was not for show, nor was he performing to impress the disciples. He was teaching them. They were being given a lesson in God’s School of Higher Learning.

Now keep your finger at Mark 6 and turn to Chapter 6 of John’s gospel and let’s discover some of the lessons that Jesus was teaching his disciples. If they were important for the early disciples to understand, then it’s also important for you and I to grab hold of them. If we can learn those lessons, then when our boat encounters a storm and we find ourselves in water over our head, we won’t panic and fall apart.

Point 2

Let’s take a look at John Chapter 6.

Lesson one is given to us in Verses 1-7.

The disciples had just returned from a successful ministry trip that Jesus had sent them on. They had shared with Jesus all the things they had done and what they had taught. They were exhausted and needed to rest. Jesus suggested they all depart by a ship to a private place for that rest.

Verse 1 begins here:
“After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.” Jesus departed with his disciples across the sea of Galilee to the area near the village of Bethsaida. His intention was to escape for a brief period away from the thronging multitude, but to no avail for they simply followed him.

Verse 2
“And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.” In this verse, Jon points out to us that many followed after Jesus simply because of the miracles. It wasn’t that they were that interested in following and obeying the teachings of Jesus. A number followed because of what they could get. They “oohed” and “aahed” at his miracles, but their hearts remained unchanged. That tribe is still alive today. As a pastor, I’ve come across their kinfolk many times in church services.

Verse 5
“When Jesus lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, He saith unto Philip, Where shall we buy bread that these may eat? Notice that even though some followed after Jesus for the wrong motive, Jesus still loved them. Mark said that Jesus was moved with compassion toward them. Jesus’ heart still beat toward them. the multitude had followed out to a desert place. They had traveled a great distance. They were very tired, very hot, and very hungry and they were out on a side of a mountain.

(Luke states a fact that John left out of his narrative at this point in Luke 9:12.)
The disciples had come to Jesus saying, “Lord, we don’t know if you’re aware of this, but we’ve got a real problem here. It’s getting late and the people are hungry and some are even growing faint. We’d better dismiss this meeting and send them home so they can eat.” It’s at this point in John 6:5 that Jesus looks at the weary multitude–then turns to Philip and says to him, “Philip, what are we going to do? Where are we going to get enough food to feed all these people?” Now Philip was the logical one to ask this of because Philip was from this area and he would know where to go and buy food.

Verse 6
“And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.” Jesus had asked Philip this question to test Philip to see what his answer would be. Jesus already knew what he himself was going to do about the problem. Jesus had asked Philip, What are we going to do?” Philip takes out his little calculator (at least he would have if this happened today) and begins to work it out mathematically. Philip adds it all up and says, “Lord, according to my figures, if we had a whole years wages, we still wouldn’t have enough to buy bread to feed this group.” And that was true.

Let me stop at this point and give you the first lesson that Jesus was going to teach his disciples. Never Assess A Difficulty In The Light Of Your Own Resources. Simply put, this means–Never look at a problem and then try to work it out depending entirely upon your own resources.

Someone in the logistics section of the army was once asked how much food it would require to feed Israel each day in their travels from Egypt to Canaan. (Logistics is the moving of something from one place to another and figuring out all that is need to get the job done.) The answer was that it would take 12 million pounds of food daily. And unbelievable amount for Israel to have to come up with each day. But the source of Israel’s food was not themselves, but God.

Philip, like so many of us do, tried to solve the insurmountable problem in the light of their own resources. Philip, up to this time, had left Jesus totally out of the picture. But we do the same thing so many times, don’t we? We figure–we sweat–we agonize about something that we can’t do anything about in our own strength, and finally in desperation we let God in on it. So many, when they try to do it themselves, call it “moving in faith.” They take on the role of  ‘Super Saint’ and say, “Well why should I pester God about this? I’m just going to exercise my faith for it. I’ll just confess that I have it and I will.”

Listen to me very carefully. Read my kips on what I’m about to say. Faith is not a synonym for wishing, which is usually what most people are doing when they talk like that. Faith and wishing are not even related even though some people think they are. To them, if you wish real hard, sweat a little as you do, then in response ‘Tinker Bell’ will come and sprinkle a little magic dust and everything will work out just the way you want it. That simply is not faith. Faith is a response to the Word of God. Jesus wanted a faith response from Philip. “Lord this problem is too big for us, but not for you.

Let me add this also. It is not enough to say, “Well, I’m doing the best I can.” The truth is, you are not doing the best you can until you bring God in on it. Philip is the classic example in the New Testament of someone facing a difficult problem who looks at it discouragingly, but does not bring God in on it. King Saul and Israel in I Samuel 17 is an Old Testament picture of the same type of failure. They had a problem with Goliath and the Philistines that seemed to be insurmountable. They left God out of the picture. Young David, as he surveyed the same situation, brought God into the picture and went forth to claim the victory. So lesson #1 was Jesus teaching the disciples that when you face a problem do not face it in your own strength and resources. Include God in that situation and it will change the circumstances.

Point 3

Lesson #2 begins in verses 8-11.

Here another disciple is brought into focus. He is Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. At first, Andrew seems to speak with the voice of faith. What he says at first is good. Verse 9,
There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two fishes…” Now he should have stopped there, but he added these words, but what are they among so many? And with these words he blew it.

Consider again Andrew’s first words and look at the little lad. “Lord all we have are five loaves and two fishes that some little kid has thought to bring along.” Now I don’t know about you, but I believe he had those loaves and fishes because of a concerned Mother. I picture a caring Mom packing a bag lunch for her boy. I want you to know that those loaves were not five Taystee bread loaves, but five small barley biscuits. Also, those fishes were nothing at all but small sardine like dried fish. His lunch was small in quantity, but God will use it to perform a miracle.

I want us to notice at this point two important things that take place when the lad surrenders his lunch to Jesus. First–what he has is transferred to Jesus. Secondly– what he has is transformed by Jesus. This is a good example of the principle of dedication that is given to us in the Scripture. It may be small in quantity. It may even be small in quality. But if you transfer it to Jesus, it will be transformed by him.

I take a moment here and I ask you; Have you done this yet? Have you said to Jesus, “Lord, all I have and all that I will have I give it all to you.” When you do this, a wonderful thing happens. We find that we are no longer concerned about the loss of material things that once were so important to us because they are no longer ours but his. We have transferred ownership to him.

Here is some good advice I give. We can have little and it will remain little as long as we keep it. But if we have little and give it to God–God multiplies it. Remember the widow of Zerephath in I Kings 17? She surrendered her little crock of meal and oil to God through Elijah and God multiplied it.

Lesson #2 is a solid Biblical fact and it is simply this: Little Is Much If God Is In It.
Notice what happened when Jesus was given the loaves and the fishes.

Verse 10
“And Jesus said, make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down in number about 5000. Mark states that Jesus had all sit down by companies of hundreds and fifties. Matthew tells us there were 5000 men besides women and children. Jesus had committed himself to do something when he had the people seated in front of him. Possibly up to 15,000 people were waiting and watching to see what Jesus was going to do.

Verse 11
And Jesus takes the loaves and when he had given thanks he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down, and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.”
Jesus takes the bread and blesses it and breaks it into twelve pieces. He then breaks the fish into twelve pieces and distributes it to the twelve disciples. I can picture Peter’s hand completely hiding the part given to him. One swallow and it would be gone and the fish were even smaller. It suddenly all seemed so ridiculous. And it was even more so when Jesus sort of shrugs and turns around saying to them, “Go and feed them.” Now I don’t think the twelve disciples ere really ready for that one. I mean–there wasn’t hardly enough in their hands to even feed themselves.

Even though it all seemed so ridiculous, they figured they might as well get this over with quickly. So they went with a tiny piece of bread and fish. I’d like to think that at this point Peter remembered the time Jesus had asked him to let down his fishing nets again after Peter had fished all night and had caught nothing. That had seemed ridiculous to Peter also, but he obeyed saying, “Nevertheless at thy Word I will let down the net.” The catch was so great that the nets broke. But I seriously doubt if Peter remembered. (Luke 5)

At this point, let us imagine that we are among those disciples passing the food out. We start handing it out on the front row. Just a token piece. But at the end of the first row we sort of notice that nothing in our hand has gone away. We still have a much as we started with in our hand. As a matter of fact, it seems to be even bigger. As we get to the second row we’re starting to give out bigger pieces. We’re getting bolder now because the food in our hand is not diminishing. By the time we get to the third row, we’re doing everything we can to get rid of the food and we can’t get rid or it. By the fifth row we have given away more than we could have carried, but we still have bread and fish in our hands. So we go back to the first row again and start giving everybody all they can eat. Suddenly, we realize that we hold in our hand a miracle piece of bread and fish, for we can feed as many as we want and still it won’t go away. All we have to do is to get rid of it to make it stay. It multiplies in our hand as we give it away.

Let me state the first and second lesson again.

Lesson one- Never assess a difficulty in the light of your own resources.
Lesson two- Little is much when God is in it.

Point 4

Lesson #3– Only Jesus Can Satisfy.

Verse 12
“When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”
Notice the words, “When they were filled.” Jesus Christ had totally met the need of every person there. He fed them and he filled them. They couldn’t hold anymore. They were satisfied with the miracle bread.

Have you ever noticed that when you have eaten a big meal you are so full you just couldn’t hold anymore? You say, “I couldn’t eat another bite or I won’t be hungry for a week.” But a couple of hours later (one hour if you’re a teenager) you’re starving. Simply because the physical food of this world perishes.

We need to remember that Jesus only increased the amount of bread and fishes, not the contents. They were still only bread and fish. Jesus never meant for them to be more than that. They were used to fill and satisfy the hunger of the people for that day only, just like the manna did for Israel in the wilderness. The people became hungry again and the next day they looked Jesus up. They came for another buffet lunch. but Jesus was not to be found. He had gone to Capernaum.

Verse 24
“When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.” They had toiled. They had worked hard to find Jesus just so they could get one more meal.

Verse 25
“And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when comest thou hither?”

Verse 26-27
“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, you seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves and were fill. labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hat God the Father sealed.”
Jesus was telling these people–you come to me for fishes and loaves, but that’s not what you really need. It’s not your natural physical needs that are the most important in your life. It’s your spiritual needs, and that need cannot be met with the bread and meat of this world. As I satisfied your natural hunger, so can I satisfy your spiritual hunger.

John 6:35
“I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

Today, many people are trying to satisfy the hunger in their lives with what the world offers and they are discovering they just don’t satisfy. The hunger remains. I don’t know what each person here is looking to or at to bring satisfaction into their life, but I do know this, if it is not Jesus Christ then that person is going to come up hungry every time. Only Jesus Can Satisfy The Soul.

Point 5

Lesson #4 is this: Every difficulty is allowed or given by God to enrich and enlarge us. God uses every difficulty that comes into our life for our benefit. God uses them to develop us. Let’s go back to Mark 6 one more time. Jesus had just given the twelve disciples an object lesson about his power, ability and care in the feeding of the 5000. Now he was going to give them a test on the lesson he had just taught. You see, that’s the principle of teaching. First you teach and then you test and the process is repeated over and over until the lesson is really learned. Jesus is saying by his actions, “I’ve taught you the lesson. I’ve fed the 5000. You’ve seen what I can do. Now get in the boat. It’s test time.

Jesus had performed the miracle of the loaves to show them his power and ability in meeting their needs. Now he’s going to see if they really believe in his power to meet those needs. Now I ask you; did Jesus know a storm was coming when he sent them forth on the sea? Sure he did. Who controls the winds? God does. God even gave them something to jog their memory during the test time. Remember there were twelve baskets of fragments left. There were twelve disciples. Each would have had a basket when told to get into the boat. Each had a reminder of the power of God.

So get this picture fixed in your mind. Here’s a boat with twelve men in it. Each has a basket of miracle food between their feet. And in the midst of the storm they are crying out, “Oh, what are we going to do?”

Verse 24
“When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.” They had toiled. They had worked hard to find Jesus just so they could get one more meal.

It’s so very important that we understand that when God allows a difficulty to come into our life it is never to harm us, but it’s intended to help us. The chief goal of the difficulty is to bless, enrich and develop us. How often I have found this to be true. God creates or allows a need to come into our life so we will be forced to turn to him and say, “Lord, I really need your help. ” If God were not allowing needs to come into our lives we would become so independent and self-sufficient that we’d never feel the need to turn to him or rely on his power to help us. For God to bless us like he wants to he must send needs into our life. But remember this: when God works needs into our lives, he is also working the solution into our lives as well.

point 6 In conclusion I want to draw your attention to lesson #5 that is given to us in Mark 6. Jesus comes to those disciples who had not learned the lessons of the loaves and he is walking on the water in the midst of the storm. he is walking toward them. Lesson #5 is this: In walking on the water, Jesus is saying to them, “Boys, whatever is over your head is under my feet. I’ve got it all under control.” One last time, let me give you the lessons Jesus taught in the miracle of the loaves.
#1 Never assess a difficulty in the light of your own resources.
#2 Little is much if God is in it.
#3 Jesus alone can truly satisfy.
#4 Every difficulty is allowed or sent by God to enrich and enlarge us.
#5 What is over our head is under his feet.

Whatever is offered to the Lord, broken in His hands, and given to the multitude, is sufficient for the need. –V. Redmond Edman

The Lord takes notice, not only of what we give, but of what we have left.

There is more power in the open hand than in the clenched fist. –Herbert Casson