Feeding the 5,000


Matthew 14:14-21 -  And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. 15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. 16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. 17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18 He said, Bring them hither to me. 19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. 21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.


Mark 6:34-44 - And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: 36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? 38 He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. 41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42 And they did all eat, and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.


Luke 9:12-17 - 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: for we are here in a desert place. 13 But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. 14 For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. 15 And they did so, and made them all sit down. 16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. 17 And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.


John 6:5-13 - 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? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 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 five thousand. 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. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 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.


Jesus will provide for us, not just to fulfill our desires or needs, but so we will know he is the eternal God, our eternal Saviour, our eternal Lord and our eternal judge.


I.    The time of this miracle. 

A.     Matthew 14:1-12 – Herod had killed John the Baptist for his “sin” of declaring it was a sin for Herod to have his brother Phillip’s wife. 

1.      Herodias’s daughter had danced before Herod, aroused his fleshly feelings and he had promised her up to ½ of the kingdom. 

2.      She desired the head of John the Baptist. 

3.      Verse 13 – When Jesus heard of John’s beheading, he continued his ministry, and many people followed him. 

B.     Mark 6:30-34 declares that Jesus desired his disciples to come apart for a while to rest, but the people saw them and followed them, so they had no rest. 

C.     Luke 9:10-11 records that the twelve had just returned from being sent to preach, heal, and cast out devils, then John was beheaded by Herod. 

1.      The particular time is the closing of the day, near dark, but time enough for the people to return to their homes for food. 

2.      The place is near Bethsaida, not in the city, but in a desert place near the city. 

D.     John 6:4 records that the Passover was near. 

1.      It is interesting that people continued to follow Christ, even though the Passover was near.

2.      It would be normal for the Jews to forsake Christ and attend, or at least begin to make preparation for the Passover. 

3.      These Jews believe Christ is the Messiah, therefore they are torn between following Christ and making preparation for the Passover. 


II.    John 6:5,6 – Jesus questioned Philip concerning feeding the multitude of 5,000 men.

A.     Jesus always knows what he will do; but Jesus always gives us time to change from what we think and the way we think into what Jesus thinks and the way Jesus thinks.

1.      God puts all sorts of different things in our life’s paths to cause us to change the way we think.

2.      Nothing that happens to us happens by chance, but all things work together for the good of those that love God, to those that are called according to his purpose.

B.     Jesus did not question Peter, James, or John (the inner circle), but Philip.

1.      Jesus questioned Philip because it was important that Philip understand.

2.      Jesus wants all his disciples to understand who he is and what he can do. 

3.      It makes no difference if we are not a Peter, James, or John.

4.      I believe it is very important to understand that Jesus wants every child of his to understand.

5.      Sometimes it is in our minds that only the “important” people need to understand, but that is not so. 

C.     Philip replied that 200 pennyworth of bread (which is what they could provide) would not be enough for a snack, much less a full meal.

1.      All of us first look at what we have and do not look at what God can do.

a.       All of us should take the question of Christ concerning feeding the 5,000 as his command, not his suggestion. 

b.      God wants us all to be “stretched” in faith, so we can learn to trust him more and more.

2.      In Mark 6:38, Jesus then instructs the disciples to “go and see” how many loaves they have. 

a.       It is always good to know how much we have before we start any project. 

b.      What we have is what God will use, but God does not depend on the sufficiency of our resources to do the work. 

c.       Jesus fed the entire 20,000 (estimated) people with the insufficiency of the disciples. 

d.      When the meal was finished, and everybody had eaten and was full, the disciples took up 12 baskets full of fragments. 

e.       There was more when the work was finished than there was in the beginning. 

D.     Andrew mentioned that a lad had two small fishes and five loaves of bread.

1.      It was good Andrew was listening and felt free to speak about the two small fishes and the five loaves of bread. 

2.      God used what Andrew mentioned, not what Phillip mentioned. 

3.      Again, it is not Peter, James, and John that Christ is speaking to, it is Andrew, another apostle not in the inner circle.

4.      The lessons Christ wants us to learn is for everybody.

5.      It is not that one person should learn, and the rest do not need to understand.

6.      Andrew, like Philip, did not know what to do.

7.      Andrew, like Philip, was looking at what they had, not at what Christ could do.

8.      Looking at what is in front of us is a human trait, one we need to exchange for looking at the power of Christ and what he wants us to do.


III.    John 6:10 – There was obedience in the face of not understanding.

A.     We should always obey the word of God, whether we understand or not.

1.      The only way to truly understand is to do the word of God.

2.      Understanding often comes after obedience, not before.

3.      Many people struggle to understand what God wants them to do before they do it, and they never do what God commands them to do.

4.      If they would obey first, they would soon understand God’s commands.

B.     Some might think they cannot truly obey without complete understanding.

1.      The truth is that walking and living by faith is obeying when we do not understand.

2.      All of us want to walk and live by faith – right?

3.      Walking and living by faith is not understanding but trusting the Word of God.


IV.    John 6:11 – Good things always happen when Jesus takes charge.

A.     Concerning good things – remember:

1.      Hebrews 11:32-35 – Some, by faith, received the good things of faith.

2.      Hebrews 11:36-40 – Some, by faith, received what we would call bad things because of  faith.

B.     The impossible will always be accomplished when Jesus takes charge.

1.      By Philip’s admission, he could not feed 5,000.

2.      By Andrew’s admission, he could not feed 5,000.

3.      All the apostles understood they did not physically have enough to feed 5,000.

4.      Jesus does.

C.     Jesus is able to provide from nothing at all.

1.      Jesus is able to provide all the financial needs of IBC.

a.       Jesus is able to provide all the financial needs of each person.

b.      All we must do is obey, even when we do not understand and when we do not see how it will happen.

2.      Jesus commands all his children to give tithes and offerings to the storehouse (the local church).

a.       It seems impossible to give tithes and offerings when we all have bills that need to be paid. 

b.      Sometimes people decide they will pay their bills instead of their tithes and then get farther and farther behind in their bills. 

c.       God will always provide when we by faith obey him first. 


V.    The chain of command of the church is never to be disrupted.

A.     Jesus returns thanks.

1.      Jesus  gives to the disciples (apostles).

2.      The apostles give to the multitude.

B.     Many well meaning people attempt to “go around” God’s chain of command, believing it is necessary for God’s blessings. 

1.      In the church, God has given pastors to preach and teach his word. 

2.      Pastors are God’s appointed leaders in each church, and should be obeyed – as long as they are leading according to the Word of God. 

3.      If a pastor is not leading according to the Word of God, God will take care of him. 

4.      If a church is not following their pastor, God will take care of them. 

C.     The miracle occurs only as Christ is obeyed.

1.      As the food is distributed, the food is multiplied. 

2.      The food is not multiplied until it is distributed.

3.      Jesus is very able to multiple food before it is distributed, but that is not walking by faith.

D.     God is very able to provide for IBC, as long as we are obedient to him. 

1.      God might not provide for us before we need it, but he will always provide when we need it, if we are only obedient to him. 

2.      Our place is to seek the will of God, put him first, and let God take care of providing the physical necessities. 

E.      The statistics of the miracle. 

1.      The number of people to be fed. 

a.       There were 5,000 men, not counting women and children. 

b.      It seems reasonable to assume there were 20,000 people present: considering that each man had a wife and they each had two children. 

2.      Food distribution. 

a.       If the 12 disciples distributed evenly, then one disciple would distribute food to 1,667 people. 

1.)    If each of the 12 disciples could distribute food to one person in 5 seconds, he would serve 12 persons per minute, or 720 persons per hour, or 1440 persons in 2 hours. 

2.)    If each of the 12 disciples could distribute food to one person in 2 seconds, he would serve 30 persons per minute, or 1,800 persons per hour.  (Almost 1 hour to feed 1,667 people.)

3.)    If each of the 12 disciples could distribute food to one person in 1 second, he would serve 60 persons per minute, or 3,600 persons per hour: therefore it would take approximately 30 minutes to distribute food to 1,667 people. 

b.      I do not know if any of these calculations are valid, but I do know that the miracle was swift (as the people were already hungry) and progressive, that is; God provided as was necessary. 

3.      The quantity of food provided in the miracle. 

a.       The Bible states there were 5,000 men, not counting the women or children. 

b.      Assuming there was 5,000 men, and 5,000 women, and 2 children per family, there would be 20,000 people that needed food. 

c.       If the adults ate 16 ounces of fish and bread, and the children ate 8 ounces of fish and bread, four individuals would eat 48 ounces of fish and bread.  (16 + 16 + 8 + 8 = 48)

d.      At this rate, 20, 000 people would eat 15,000 pounds of fish and bread.  (20,000/4=5,000*48 ounces = 240,000 ounces/16 ounces per pound = 15,000 pounds of fish and bread.)

e.       This vast quantity of food was provided ready to eat – cleaned, cooked, complete – the people had to do nothing except eat. 


VI.    Verse 12 – We should never waste that which God provides.

A.     God is able to provide limitlessly, but that does not mean we should waste any of what he provides. 

1.      God has unlimited resources, but he wants us to take care and not waste that which he willingly and freely provides.

2.      It is not that God can not give us more, it is that we should appreciate what he gives us. 

B.     The apostles took up twelve baskets of food.

1.      The Bible does not record that the disciples even had a single basket before Christ fed the 5,000, not they not only have twelve baskets, but the twelve baskets are full of food.

2.      Twelve baskets of food is not so much when divided among 5,000.

a.       I suppose the basket is about the size of a bushel basket.

b.      Dividing 5,000 men by 12 disciples means that each basket was filled with the remains from 416.67 people (if 5,000 were fed, but 1,667 if 20,000 were fed). 

c.       Therefore we understand there was not much left over from any one person. 

3.      The Bible does not tell us what happened to the twelve baskets of left over food.