The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)


Lesson 14

THE FEEDING OF THE 5,000

(John 6:1-14)



INTRODUCTION:


1.     This is the only one of our Lord’s miracles found in all four gospels (not counting His resurrection).  As we usual, we will consider all four of the Gospel accounts this evening.

2.     We read in Mark 6:31 that our Lord and His disciples were so busy that they did not even have time to eat.  “For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”

3.      Both Mark 6:34 and Matthew 14:14 tell us that when our Lord saw a great multitude He “was moved with compassion toward them.”  It is Scriptures like this that should motivate us here in this great New York metropolitan area, teeming with millions of lost souls, and so few soul-winning churches. I think the reason churches are not winning souls is they lack compassion.  People are going to hell without Christ.

4.     The great compassion of God is the key to this miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.  Actually it was probably much more than 5,000 (John 6:10; cf. Matt. 14:21).  There may have been 15 or 20,000.

5.     Liberals and skeptics do not believe in miracles. Their explanations (people brought their own food, etc.) are absurd.  John 6:14 refers to this as a “miracle.” 

6.     The interpretation of this miracle is quite easy. What I would like to do tonight is make some applications for us.

 

I.     WE HAVE TO HAVE A BURDEN FOR PEOPLE

1.    We can see here that, in contrast to our Lord, the disciples did not have much of a burden for the people.   In Luke 9:12 we read, “And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals” (9:12).

2.    John R. Rice preached a message from this text, and described the attitude of the disciples this way: “Somebody says, ‘The old infidel, we can’t get him.  Dope heads, you can’t reach them.  Catholics, never.  And you can’t get Jews saved, nor Jehovah’s Witnesses.’  So you mark them all off.  And let them go to Hell…That is about what you say about most of the old, hardened sinners.  This old world is going to Hell and you think people can’t be reached.”

3.    We see the same thing in the story of the Syrophenician woman who cried out to the Lord that her daughter was “grievously vexed with a devil” (Matt. 15:22).  The disciples then said to our Lord, “Send her away; for she crieth after us” (Matt. 15:23).

4.    Unfortunately we have this same attitude in many churches today – “Send them away!  They’re a bother.  Send them away; they’re different.  Send them away; they have a strange accent, etc.”

5.    There are millions of people right here in America today who are going to psychiatrists. Why?  The churches cannot help them.  Pastors are saying, “I cannot help you.  The Word of God cannot help you.  Even God cannot help you.  Go to the psychiatrist; maybe he can help you.”

6.    And what does the psychiatrist do?  He gives them pills and dopes them up. Today in America, the psychiatrist has replaced the preacher.  Have you noticed that every time there is some horrible tragedy – a school shooting or 9/11 or some other crime where many people are killed, the school officials and the media go straight to the psychiatrists?  They do not even consider talking to a preacher.  They do not care what the Bible has to say.

7.    I read an interesting article in the newspaper a few years ago, back when Rudy Giuliani was the mayor of NYC.  The reporter noticed that Mayor Giuliani’s speeches were often loaded with psychiatric jargon.  The reporter called the mayor’s office and his spokeswoman admitted that Giuliani reads a lot of Sigmund Freud.   He would be much better off if he read the Bible!

8.    Today our government spends billions of our tax dollars in the welfare mess and other wasteful government programs.  People today look to the government for everything: money, food, housing, schooling, medical care, etc. How did this happen.  The churches said, “Send them away.”

9.    I am not advocating the social gospel.  I am just saying that if churches did things Biblically our country would not be in the mess it is in today (cf. I Tim. 5:8-16).

10. Spurgeon said, “We never need send the multitude away to be dealt with by the State, by the parish, or by hirelings.  If we will but set to work, we shall find that the Lord makes us competent for every emergency.”

 

II. WE HAVE TO HAVE FAITH IN GOD

1.    The disciples lacked faith so our Lord tried to teach them a lesson.  We see in John 6:5 that our Lord said to Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”

2.    “And this He said to prove him (Philip)” (John 6:6).   Our Lord wanted them to realize their dependence upon Him.

3.    Then Philip answered our Lord and said, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little” (6:7).

4.    “Two hundred pennyworth” was a considerable sum back then. In other words, “It would cost more than $30,000 to feed such a huge crowd!  We don’t have that kind of money.”

5.    Next, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother introduces the lad with the five barley loaves and two small fishes.  But then he adds, “But what are they among so many?” (John 6:9).

6.    The other disciples apparently felt the same way, for they said, “We have no more but five loaves and two fishes” (Luke 9:13).

7.    But five loaves and two fishes is plenty with God.

8.    Had they already forgotten about the miracles they had witnessed?  They had already seen our Lord turn water into wine (2:1-11).

9.    They had seen our Lord heal the impotent man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9).

10. I think this is the #1 problem in America today – because most Americans are so comfortable and well-fed they have just about forgotten about God.  This is why churches are so weak.

11. But this is nothing new.  Mark 6:52 says the disciples had hard hearts.  Matthew 14:31 says they had “little faith.”  John R. Rice said, “Their unbelief is strange, but no stranger than ours!  How little right we have to accuse the apostles!  We ask so little and expect so little from God.”

12. James 4:2 says, “Ye have not because ye ask not.”

13. Beloved, we will not get anywhere without faith.  We need compassionate hearts and great faith. If God used pitchers and lamps in Gideon’s army, and the jawbone of an ass in Samson’s hand, and five loaves of bread and two fishes from a little boy, He can use whatever we make available.

14. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (I Cor. 1:27).

15. Though our gifts be small and our powers weak, yet in the hands of Christ we may accomplish much.  The same Lord who multiplied the five loaves and the two fishes can still multiply our meager resources.

16. Consider this: The Lord Jesus Christ could have called down manna from heaven.  He could have created food instantly. But it was to show us God’s grace that the Lord used the lad with the five barley loaves and two small fishes (John 6:6-9).

17. And it is through you and me that the Gospel is to be proclaimed today.  We are to follow the example of this little lad, who had very little, but he gave all that he had.

18. He may have had little, but “little is much when God is in it.”  And what was the  result?  Everyone was fed, and there was more left over when Jesus finished than when He began (John 6:12, 13).

19. Spurgeon said: “By feeding others our stock increases.”  We have seen this firsthand with our faith promise missions giving.

20. Beloved, if every true born-again believer would give all that he has for the Lord, we would see millions of souls saved and this country turned around.  We would see Bibles, tracts, and missionaries sent out all over the world and churches established everywhere.

21. But we cannot do this if we do not have faith in God (Mark 6:51, 52).

 

III. WE HAVE TO DO WHAT OUR LORD TELLS US TO DO (6:10-13).

1.    If we just do what God tells us to do He will provide for us.  Take soulwinning.  If we obey His command to go out and preach the Gospel to every creature, He will save souls. 

2.    Our Lord said, “Give ye them to eat” (Luke 9:13). This is a commandment for every one who has partaken of the Bread of Life.  We are responsible to pass it on to others. 

3.    Men are dying in their sins.  They are hungry and they are sick from all of the (spiritual) junk food they have digested.  And so Jesus tells His disciples, “Give ye them to eat” (Luke 9:13).

4.    How about tithing?  If we are faithful in giving Gods our tithes and offerings, He will stretch the rest and multiply it so that we need not worry about finances.  God will help you do a lot more with 90% (or less) than you can do with 100%.

5.    Our Lord said, “Give ye them to eat” (9:13).  He commanded the people to sit down (John 6:10).  Mark 6:39, 40 says, “by companies upon the green grass.  And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.”  God is a God of order.

6.    Here is an important lesson: God takes what we have and multiplies it.  He takes natural human ability, meager resources, and other limitations and expands them for His glory (John 6:11-14).

 

CONCLUSION:


May I make an application for us tonight?  If we have faith, and if we obey God, He will not only supply our needs but He will see to it that there will be basketfuls left over (John 6:13) – enough for our missionaries, enough to finish off our renovation work, enough to buy a bus, etc.



<< Back                                       Next >>