The Gospel of John Commentary Chapters 1-11 (by chapter)

John 6:1-15 - The Feeding of the 5,000

The Sign-Miracle (this was the 4th Sign Jesus did in the Gospel of John).
v1-3 After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. 

v4 Now the Passover, a Feast of the Jews, was near (April/May AD 32, confirmed in v10 and Mark 6:39 by the presence of the lush Spring grass). 

v5,6 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 

v7 Philip answered Him, "200 denarii (7 months wages) worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little." 

v8,9 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" 

v10 Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 

v11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 

v12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, 
"Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." 
v13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 

v14,15: “Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world" Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” 
John’s Gospel is based on Signs (which are miracles designed to send a message). They reveal who Jesus is (the Son of God) and what He does for those who believe, as well as how God’s Kingdom works. This is the only Miracle recorded in all four Gospels, so it has a special importance.

THE SIGN ITSELF
 (v1-13): “After these things (about 6 months have passed since John 5, for we are now coming up to the next major Feast. During this time, Jesus has been ministering intensively in Galilee), Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee (also called Tiberias). Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain and there He sat with His disciples.  Now the Passover, a Feast of the Jews, was near (this is Springtime, near the Passover of AD 32, and so Moses, the Manna and the Passover Lamb were on the peoples’ minds and they feature strongly in this chapter).”

“Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do” 
(v1-6). 
He wanted to involve the disciples in the miracle. First, He wanted them to appreciate the magnitude of the need and the problem. 

Philip did the calculation: “Philip answered, "200 denarii (a denarii was a typical days wage) worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little" (v7). His assessment was that it was impossible to feed them all by their own ability, but he failed to look in faith to God’s ability. Faith looks the difficulty in the face, but says ‘God is greater’. When God tells us to do something, it is a test of our faith, because it will be beyond our natural ability. If we say: ‘It’s impossible, so I won’t do anything’, we fail the test, like Philip. Andrew went further in faith. He realised Jesus was fixing to do something and was involving them in it, so he did what he could do to help, looking for food: “One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him: "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves (like pancakes) and two small fish (the size of sardines), but what are they among so many? (it was just a boy’s snack)" (v8,9). 

The second thing Jesus wanted them to see was that what we can do or give is small compared to the size of the need. What Andrew did, however, was the start of the miracle. When we do what we can, and put ourselves ‘on the line’ trusting God, He will work and do what we can’t do. What he brought to Jesus was just a SEED - but a SEED is powerful because it has the ability to multiply when planted in the right soil. 
A small SEED can meet a big NEED when planted in the Lord’s hands. What we have may seem so small (like the pancakes) but if we give it to Jesus and put it into His hands, He will do a miracle with it. He needs our action, He wants us to sow the seed and trust Him for the harvest. 


“Then Jesus said,"Make the people sit down" 
(In other words: ‘Now someone has sown what they have, and now I can work. We are ready for a miracle. Rest and get ready to receive!’) 
Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about 5000” (v10).  With women and children there could have been 15,000. The men were the first to sit down - typical! The lad had a choice. If he held onto the little he had, he would have missed a miracle. But he planted the seed that initiated God’s power. We can stay in our small world or by faith enter a big life of God’s provision. If we put ourselves - our gifts, energy, money, time, into the Master’s hands, then He will multiply them and bless many. 

“And (1) Jesus TOOK the loaves (God takes and uses what we give Him) and when (2) He had given THANKS (the other Gospels tell us 
He also LOOKED to Heaven, to God, the Source of multiplication and BLESSED the food). Always say Grace over your food. Instead of grumbling at the lack of food, Jesus thanked God for what He had provided - then God multiplied it. This is a lesson for us. When He offered it to God, putting it into God’s hands, God took it and His 
power hovered on it (the seed was blessed - empowered to multiply). 
(3) Then (having BROKEN the bread)
(4) He DISTRIBUTED (GAVE) them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down (they shared in the miracle) and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted” (v11-12). 

The miracle happened in His hands. God’s power went to work multiplying the bread. What you hold onto is not blessed, but what you put (give) into His hands will be multiplied. Put yourself (as seed) into His hands, for that’s where blessings and miracles happen. 

“So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." Therefore they gathered them up and filled 12 baskets (one for each disciple - God will reward you and supply your needs, if you will be God’s channel to others) with the fragments of the five 
barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten” (v13). 

God always provides an ABUNDANT SUPPLY, if we will trust Him by sowing what we have to Him. By this miracle, He was also showing them how the Kingdom of God works (how we can be used of God). It is according to the SEED principle. Our seed (which what we have to give God, whether it is money, time, gifts, love or help) is small compared to the need, but if we will offer (sow) it to God with thanksgiving, He will multiply it and bring forth an abundant harvest from it. Sowing seed requires sacrifice but it is well rewarded by the harvest reaped.
 
The rest of the chapter concerns the message and meaning of this Sign. 
It established His claim to be the Son of God, the ‘I AM’, which He made explicit when He said: “I AM the Bread of Life.”

Jesus first had to correct their wrong interpretation of the significance of the Sign:
 “Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world" Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone” (v14,15). 
At the time of Moses, God gave Israel Manna from Heaven. When Jesus supernaturally provided bread, they correctly realised that He was the promised ‘prophet like unto Moses’ of Deuteronomy 18:15-19.  But they were thinking carnally, that as Moses delivered them from the dominion of Egypt, Jesus would be their military Deliverer from Rome. 

The next verses (John 6:16-21) describe Jesus walking on the water, after which He preaches at Capernaum giving the meaning of the feeding miracle (v22-59).

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