John 6:1-13 THE MIRACULOUS FEEDING OF A MULTITUDE
During the ministry of Jesus there were actually two
miraculous feedings of a multitude. This is the more
spectacular of the two.
I. Things which happened between chapter five and chapter
V. 1, "After these things Jesus went over the sea of
these things" refers back to the events of chapter five.
Jesus and His disciples were in
of one of the national religious feasts. John does not tell
us which feast. While there, Jesus healed a man on the
sabbath day and the Jewish leaders charged Him with breaking
the law of the sabbath. This was a charge which carried the
penalty of death by stoning if found guilty.
John does not tell us the outcome of the trial. He just
closed out the record of that event without telling us how
the Jews disposed of the charge. However, since the
miraculous feeding of the multitude took place afterwards,
we know that they did not find Him guilty. I cannot believe
that they would ever pronounce Jesus "Not guilty."
Therefore, I think they just dropped the charge on the
grounds of insufficient evidence.
However, I personally think that they really dropped the
charges because they were afraid of what the masses of
people would do if they were to try to stone Jesus to death.
I know that later they were afraid of the multitude and I
think that was the reason they dropped this charge against
any rate, Jesus is no longer in
events of this text are said to take place at a later time.
So for whatever the reason, they did release Him and He
There must have been numerous things which took place
between chapter five and chapter six. From the writings of
Matthew, Mark and Luke we can name some of the more
important events. For one thing, Jesus sent the twelve
apostles out on a preaching campaign throughout the land of
told to preach the gospel message to the lost sheep of the
Those apostles had completed their preaching campaign
and had returned to
overjoyed at the results of their campaign. They said,
"Even the devils are subject to us."
Another momentous event that took place during this time
was that Herod Antipas, the
Roman ruler of
John the Baptist. When Jesus was told this news, He became
very sad and went into a period of mourning for John. Jesus
was of a mind to get off somewhere alone and grieve for His
faithful servant John.
when the people in and around
out that Jesus and His
disciples had returned to
they thronged in around Him before He could get away.
According to Mark, they brought so many sick people to Jesus
that day that Jesus and His disciples had no time to eat the
So Jesus took His disciples and entered into a boat and
out for the eastern shores of the
Our text calls attention that this sea was also called "The
II. The great multitude which followed
V. 2, "And a great multitude followed him, because they
saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased."
John says a great multitude of people followed Him. Mark
says they followed on foot. They saw Jesus and His
disciples go across the sea or lake in a boat and they
headed out on foot around the shores of the lake. John said
that the thing which excited them and caused them to follow
was that they had seen how He healed the sick and afflicted.
Mark says also that the crowd began to grow. That is, other
people from all the villages on that north side of the lake
thronged out to see what all the excitement was about.
V. 3, "And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he
sat with his disciples." Jesus and His disciples arrived
first. Jesus had led His disciples up one of the mountains
in the area and were about to get some much needed rest. No
doubt, they were all mourning the death of John the Baptist.
III. The nearness of the Jewish Passover
In verse 4 John makes a statement that seems almost out
of place in this record. V. 4, "And the passover, a feast
of the Jews, was nigh." If the feast which Jesus attended
back in chapter four was the passover, then this means that
this event is taking place about a year later. If the
former feast was not the passover, then it was a much
shorter period of time.
But the point is: Why did John mention the passover in
connection with this miracle? I am not certain. I think
that it might be to help explain why so many people were in
this great multitude. A lot of people had apparently
already traveled from the outlying areas of the nation on
crowd in this gathering.
IV. The problem of trying to feed such a large multitude
V. 5, "When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a
great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence
shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" From John's
writing we might get the idea that Jesus spoke this to
Philip when they first saw the crowd coming. According to
other gospel writers, this conversation did not take place
until late in the evening when it was about time for them to
leave. Jesus actually spent the afternoon and the early
part of the evening ministering to the great crowd of
people. He preached to them and healed numerous sick folk.
It began to be late in the evening when some of the
disciples came to Him. They suggested that He send the
multitude away, lest they become weak and faint for lack of
nourishment. We know that Jesus and His disciples had
missed their meal and apparently the crowd had done
likewise. Now it was time for the evening meal and it was a
long way back to town. There was a very real danger that
some of them might become too weak to make it back.
Apparently the Apostle Philip was among the disciples who
came to Jesus with the suggestion that He send them away.
Other gospel writers tell us that Jesus said to the
disciples, "You feed them." John tells us that He
specifically addressed the Apostle Philip and asked, "Where
can we buy bread for them?" I can only imagine how Philip
reacted to this question. He must have been bowled over by
the question. How in the world could they buy enough food
for all this crowd? It reminds me of the TV commercial
where the baseball players start figuring how much it would
cost to buy pizzas for all the crowd at the stadium.
At any rate, Jesus was not serious about buying food for
all the crowd. He just wanted to use the occasion to help
Philip grow in faith. He wanted Philip's faith to be
stronger. V. 6, "And this he said to prove him: for he
himself knew what he would do." I am quite sure that He
wants our's to be stronger also.
V. 7, "Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of
bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may
take a little." Philip said, "Two hundred pennyworth would
not buy enough to go around to everybody even if we only
gave each one a tiny little bit." In other words, "We just
do not have enough money to buy food for all this crowd."
V. 8-9, "One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's
brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath
five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they
among so many?" Andrew said, "We do have a little lad who
has five barley loaves two small fish."
V. The solution to the problem
V. 10, "And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now
there was much grass in the place..." We are told by the
other gospel writers that Jesus had them to sit in groups of
50s and 100s. If everybody was up milling about there would
be no way that everybody would get fed. A lot of people
would be missed.
(V. 10), "...So the men sat down, in number about five
thousand." John said there were about five thousand men.
Other gospel writers tell us that there were about five
thousand men plus the women and children. If they averaged
only one woman and one child per there was a total of about
V. 11, "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." Jesus used the twelve apostles as
waiters. Each man always carried a small basket which would
serve as a plate. So Jesus started breaking off pieces of
bread and fish into the baskets. The apostles, in turn
served the people and returned for more. They kept this up
until all of that great multitude of people was full and
said, "No thanks, we don't want any more."
V. 12-13, "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."
They had more left over than they had when they started.
VI. Men's difficulty in believing this miracle
Listen, in out text last Sunday Jesus pointed out how
important it is for us to believe the Scripture. Now for
those who believe the Scripture, there is no doubt about the
great miracle of this event. Doubters and skeptics try to
explain away the miracle of it, but all who believe the
Bible recognize that this miracle cannot be explained away.
It really ought not be a problem for anybody who claims
to believe the Bible. In the first chapter of this book,
John told us that Jesus is the Word of God. He said that
the Word was in the beginning with A God and that the Word
was God. He said that all things were made by Him. Now get
this scene! Picture Jesus in the beginning when He did not
even have five loaves of bread or two little fishes. He had
nothing to break and multiply. He had nothing but His
power. But He created all the heavens and the earth. I
say, that if you believe the Scripture, it ought not be hard
to believe that He broke those five little loaves of bread
and those two little fish and that He fed this great
multitude of 5,000 men plus women and children --- about
15,000 people in all.
Furthermore, picture this scene. Back in the wilderness
Moses had about 10 million men and women traveling through
the wilderness and they had no food. How many penneyworth
would it take to buy enough food for this crowd? But the
Lord fed them. He fed them for forty years! Let me tell
you that anybody who believes the Bible should have no
problem believing that Jesus performed this miracle and fed
this great crowd of people with only two loaves and two
Let me tell you something else. Jesus promised that if
a lost, unworthy sinner will trust in Him for salvation,
that sinner will be saved and will go to heaven when he
dies. Romans says, "For whosoever shall call upon the
name of the Lord shall be saved." Acts 16:31 says, "Believe
on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." I want
to repeat to you: Anybody who believes the Bible should
have no trouble believing that Jesus saves.
Come and trust Him. Ask Him to save your soul. Trust
Him to save your soul.