What Was The Significance of Jesus Feeding the 5000?
All four gospel writers (Matthew – the tax collector, John Mark – aka Mark or John Mark, who wrote in a way so as to point everything to Jesus, Luke the Physician, and John “the beloved” apostle of Jesus…who seemed to be closest to Jesus), gave their personal eyewitness accounts of the feeding of the 5000.
What was the significance of Jesus’ feeding of this many people, and why was it so important that all four of the apostles who turned out to be New Testament writers,would write about it?
Let’s discover the answers by combining all four versions of events first. Then, I will put them all together into one story in a "COMMENTS SECTION".
Matthew 14:13-21- 13 – “When Jesus heard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed Him on foot out of the cities.
Mark:-6:31-44 – 31-And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32-And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33-And the people saw them departing, and many knew Him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto Him.
Luke 9: 10-17 –And He took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.
John 6:1-16 – 1-After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias."
Comments: John, the “beloved apostle" who may have been closest to Jesus, had this to say: Background - John the Baptist, and close friend of Jesus, had just been beheaded by King Herod. Matthew reports in his version of events, that the apostles told Jesus of this event. When Jesus heard the news (not that He didn’t already know. After all, He is God), he departed by ship along the Sea of Galillee.
John calls this the "Sea of Tiberias" which it was now named and after Tiberius – aka Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus, born Tiberius Claudius Nero who lived during this time. He was born in 42 B.C., and lived for 79 years until 37 A.D.
Jesus was aware that the prophecy of John The Baptist needed to be fulfilled…as was his own destiny. John the Baptist’s job of foretelling of a coming messiah was finished. (Comments section over here)
Matthew -14-"And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.
Luke: -11-And the people, when they knew it, followed Him: and He received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.
Mark: -34-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.
John –2-And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His miracles which He did on them that were diseased."
Comments - Many thousands of people had seen the miracles, signs and wonders of Jesus, and they wanted to hear more from Him, so perhaps as many as ten to fifteen thousand or more men, women and children followed Him to a grassy noll on a hill surrounding the Sea of Galillee/Tiberias.
Jesus had great compassion for this multitude who had no Shepherd…no leadership. He wanted to teach them (and us) many things. He would also demonstrate His credibility as one sent from God because He would use the miracle of healing the sick and diseased among this crowd as a "sign". The Jews of that day were always looking for a "sign, wonder or miracle". (End of comments section)
Matthew - 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.
Mark: - 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.
Luke: - 12-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.
John: -3-And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. 4-And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh."
Comments - In the above verses, we discover that it was evening time and the apostles figured that it was too late for Jesus to preach or heal the sick because this crowd would now be as hungry as they were. It would be impossible for this crowd to stay in the presence of Jesus due to their physical needs to satisfy their hunger.
Jesus knew that they (and we) needed to satisfy our spiritual needs, and that is more important to Him…than supplying our physical needs.
However, because Jesus had compassion upon the multitude (and upon us), He decided to show them how He can also take care of their physical needs…and ours.
Sometimes, Jesus takes care of our “Daily Bread Needs” in miraculous ways. He has promised that, “If we seek the things of heaven and put it first in our lives, He will supply our daily bread needs.”
The apostles wanted Jesus to send them away, but Jesus wants us to know this truth: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."…as Matthew later recorded in Matthew 11:28-30. (End comments section).
Matthew -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.
Mark –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.
Luke –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.
John: -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? 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?"
Comments - The above scriptures are very interesting because Jesus wanted to teach the world and His apostles (and us) a lesson. The lesson would be that, out of nothing, Jesus can make something. When one has no money, but is hungry, Jesus will take care of their needs.
When John and the other three confirmed that a “lad”…a boy, had five loaves of bread and two fishes to eat…perhaps carrying a small supply of food for his family, Jesus was about to show His apostles in particular, how He is there to do the impossible when impossible situations arise in their lives – and ours.
John is the only apostle to record the details of how Jesus asked Philip, “How much money do we have to buy enough food for this crowd?”
Jesus knew two things: They would not have enough money, and He would still take care of this impossible situation.
Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” A Denarius was equivalent to a laborer’s full day’s wage. This would be 200 days’ wages in money and would actually equal nearly seven months’ of wages.
Philip confirmed what Jesus already knew, (read verse 6 from John again), but Jesus wanted to show His apostles that He would satisfy both the spiritual and physical needs of all those who seek and find Him. If that is YOU…Jesus wants YOU to trust Him. When we learn to fully trust Him, He will supply all our needs.(End of comments section).
Matthew -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.
Mark: - 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.
Luke –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.
John: -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."
Comments - Luke and John both recorded that there were 5,000 men in this group of men. There were also women and their sons and daughters in the crowd. This would lead us to believe that there might have been 10,000 to 15,000 or more people sitting on that grassy noll, and they were divided into groups of hundreds and fifties.
The apostles and the crowd looking for spiritual wisdom and healing for their sick were about to see how Jesus could feed 15,000 people with five little loaves of bread and two small fish. We are witnesses of this recording of history -meaning His Story. It was recorded by all four apostles because it was so astounding and relevant to today. (End of comments section).
Matthew -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:- 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: -17-And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.
John:-12-When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13Therefore 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."
Comments - All four recorded accounts of this miracle of Jesus being able to supply the spiritual needs, healing, and physical needs of people showed there to be twelve baskets of the fragments of bread and fish left over. Jesus prayed over the five loaves and two fish to ask God, His Father, to multiply the little bit offered up.
There were twelve basketfuls of food left over at the end of the miracle…one full basket for each of His apostles to take away with them.
Jesus didn’t want to waste the leftovers, so He told His apostles to gather up the fragments that remained. It would feed them as they traveled.
The little boy who gave his lunch to Jesus got to see how - when he offered what he had, Jesus would multiply it and use it for the good of others who needed it. This lesson is for us today as well. When we give to Jesus, out of a heart of love and trust, He always uses what we give back to the benefit of others…and He always blesses us for trusting Him and loving Him enough to give back to Him…for His use and His purpose. If you have money...learn to give it to God's use. Other talents? Learn to give it for God's use. In doing so, you are blessed for giving, others are blessed to receive what you give of yourself in Jesus' name. You also gain rewards in heaven for it!
Everyone who saw Jesus that day was blessed abundantly, and all learned His great lessons. (End of comments section).
John continues: 14-"Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world."
Comments - John, the beloved apostle of Jesus, elaborated. He witnessed that all of those 5000 men, plus the women and children, perceived that this one called Jesus was truly the Messiah that was foretold by John the Baptist.
They believed. They believed because they saw their sick and diseased healed, and they saw this Jesus pray to His Father and ask for the blessing of multiplying the food for their benefit.
One has to then ask themself, “Why would I not believe in this same Jesus? Why would I not believe that Jesus can take care of my physical and spiritual needs, too?” (End of comments section).
John 6:15 -"When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. 16-And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea.”
Comments - John records that Jesus perceived that, because of those miracles just performed, and because these folk had perceived that he was the Messiah, and that they might take Him by force to be their “King of the Jews”, He departed quickly…by Himself, and went further up into the mountain.
He instructed His disciples/apostles to go back down the mountain to the Sea shore, then get into a boat, and head to the other side of the Sea of Galillee…to a place that Mark called Bethsaida.
Matthew records that Jesus went into the mountain alone to pray. Verse 23 of Chapter 14.
Jesus would later meet His apostles who were in a boat on the Sea…only Jesus would be walking on the water when He met them. Another miracle!
John Tyler, Author
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