September 22 – John 6:1-15
Now, Jesus wasn’t the first person to miraculously multiply bread. That honor belongs to the prophet Elisha, who did the same thing back in 2 Kings 4. Often times Jesus did a miracle that was reminiscent of a miracle done by an Old Testament prophet, mostly to help his audience understand what he was doing by connecting it back to Israel’s history (and for a measure of credibility with the skeptics). But Jesus took it way beyond his prophetic predecessor; Elisha fed 100 men with 20 barley loaves, but Jesus fed 5,000 men and their families with just 5, and his meal came with a side of fish.
But Jesus wasn’t just providing a meal for people, though Jesus’ concern for their physical well-being is most certainly worth discussing, as you’ll see below. More than that, he was helping them understand who he is. In a few weeks we’ll look at his “bread of life” monologue. This was what Jesus was working up to; the miracle was just to get everyone’s attention so they would actually listen to him (spoiler: they don’t) and have a basis for understanding the elemental need they have for Jesus. This is about so much more than Jesus showing off; this is about saving hungry souls. But note that Jesus doesn’t have to pick between communicating the gospel and supplying for physical needs. He does both, and he actually chose to communicate deep theological truths (which he’ll explain later in the chapter) through simple, earthly means. In Jesus’ hands mundane things become extraordinary gifts.
This miracle story also includes an interesting bit of side conversation between Jesus and the disciples. He picks their brains for a moment before performing the sign, wondering aloud, “How will we feed these people?” Phillip doesn’t have a clue how to feed these people, and Andrew poses an option without any real solution. We see that the disciples are baffled, maybe a bit nervous, but most definitely shut off to a heavenly solution to an earthly problem. But Jesus invited them to expand their spiritual imagination, to ask for massive provision, and to do so for the benefit of others. Thinking about applying what the disciples learn here to our own lives, this most certainly isn’t about praying for Jesus to bless you with your wildest dreams. The disciples didn’t sit there and feast on 5,000 lunches. In fact, they were the ones handing the food out and picking up everyone’s leftovers (cf. Matt. 14:19).
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read John 6:1-15 for us?
• What stood out to you from this section?
• Why do you think Jesus was interested in feeding all these people?
• Of all the ways an all-powerful God could’ve fed this crowd, why do you think Jesus did it this way?
• Put yourself in the disciples’ point of view. What do you think Phillip and Andrew were thinking and feeling through this?
• What do you think Jesus was trying to teach his disciples here?
• What affect could those same truths have on you tomorrow? Whats a specific example from your life right now?