Feeding the Five Thousand
[Matthew 14:15-21, Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:4-13]
Beyond the Text
- What fish did Jesus feed to the people?
- The Bible doesn’t say and scholars don’t know. Legend has it that the fish was Tilapia, also known as “St. Peter’s Fish.”
- What about the Feeding of Four Thousand? Is it the same?
- Matthew 15:32-38 and Mark 8:1-9 contains a story of the Feeding the Four Thousand in Decapolis. Though some people believe this is another account of the Feeding the Five Thousand, most agree it is a different event. This event describes seven loaves of bread and two fish.
- The Feeding the Five Thousand is the only miracle to appear in all four Gospels besides the Resurrection.
- The Bible says there were 5,000 men. This number does not include the women and children. Most scholars believe there was likely 15,000 people fed during this miracle.
- What was eight months of a man’s wages?
- The eight months of a man’s wages is about two hundred denarii. A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer.
When it was getting late, what did the disciples want to do with the crowds?
What was Jesus’ response to the disciples?
When Jesus told the disciples “You give them something to eat,” what was the response from the disciples?
The boy provided five loaves and two fish. What did Jesus do? What did the disciples do?
When you have a need, do you try to meet the need? Do you trust God to meet the need? Do you trust God to do the impossible?
This event shows us Jesus provides to the disciples and then they provide to the crowd. How is that similar to what we do as good stewards? As ministers of the Good News? How is this similar for both physical needs and spiritual needs?
The disciples wanted to send the people away but Jesus wanted to take care of their needs. The passage before the Feeding of Five Thousand speaks about something Jesus had for the people. What was this trait? How does it help us to meet the needs of others?
Many people will agree that the Bible mentions some type of “do not fear” phrase 365 times and these same people hold that God left us these phrases so we have one for each day of the year. The Bible verse I return to often is Isaiah 41:10 which tells us to “fear not.” That’s where FearNot Ministries was born.
In Mark 6, the disciples were in the middle of storm that produced great wind. The disciples were struggling. Through this storm, there was Jesus walking on the water. It frightened the disciples. Who can say what was going through their minds? But Jesus told them not to be afraid. Then he said, “Take courage! I am here!”
Take courage. Jesus is here. If you’ve accepted Him into your heart—if you believe in Him and He is your Lord and Savior, He promised that you would receive His Spirit. God is always with you. So take courage. No matter what you are going through. Take courage. He is with you.
“They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here!’” – Mark 6:50 [NLT]
We see images and signs posted all over asking for help. There are homeless men, women and children holding signs on the street corners. There are advertisements for particular causes. Breast Cancer Awareness. Human Trafficking. Pro-life. Organ Donation. So many signs. So many people in need of help, in need of hope.
When there was a large group of people in need of food, the disciples wanted to let them go to travel in search for food. They didn’t believe they could feed them so that was what they thought was in their best interest. But Jesus told them, “YOU FEED THEM.” He gave them this command because they had the power to help.
Sometimes we have the power to help, whether it is in a small way or a big way. If you feed one person, it’s a start. If you donate a bag of clothing, that’s a start. If you give a few extra dollars, that’s a start. There are moments when God does miracles and there are moments when God uses people to accomplish His miracles through them. He can use you. Simply ask Him to use you. It’s time to get those hands and feet moving.
“But Jesus said, ‘That isn’t necessary–you feed them.’” – Matthew 14:16 [NLT]
I was at my desk calling out to my daughter. It was very loud in the next room but I heard a response. I responded only to hear laughter. My son was pretending to be my daughter. The noise level made it hard to hear and it was not so easy to detect what was happening. He found it hilarious. I told him to turn down the television.
We have had much advancement in technology to make it easier to connect with people. The downfall of technology is the fact that there is a lot of noise. Nearly everywhere you go you will find noise. If you are at the supermarket, you’ll hear the beeps from the cash registers. You will hear the self checkout area’s robotic register voices conversing with customers. You will hear music sometimes interrupted by announcements over the PA system. You will hear customers catching up in the middle of an aisle while others have hour long conversations on their cell phone as slowly making their way through the store. You will hear the sound of boxes being opened to restock shelves and the rattling of shopping carts. This is just one example.
Today, look around and see where you can turn down some noise in your life. It is important to have some quiet time to spend with God—time with no distractions so you can hear properly. If you do not have that time, consider a way to accomplish this quiet time today.
“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” – Matthew 14:22-23 [ESV]
The feeding of five thousand makes note of something the disciples said when they were faced with the issue of it getting close to mealtime and food was in very limited quantity. The disciples thought it was best to send the people away so that they were able to go to the villages and purchase some food. If we look at that part of the passage, we can see that the disciples cared about the people. They were in a desolate area. They did not have the food available. They wanted to send the people away so that they had a chance to eat something.
As we know, Jesus said that they could give them something to eat– to not send the people away. When I read this passage, I think about how we often have good intentions and a good heart, but that we limit God and what He can do in our lives and through us, because we cannot think outside the box. God created the world as we know it, and everything it contains. Yet, whenever we are faced with a situation, we often think with our own human minds what we can do about the problem. We forget we are dealing with the Creator of the universe. We expect what is expectable, rather than what is impossible.
Life may not be what you have expected. At the moment, you may be looking back on things that have happened, and wondering why you did not meet the goals that you have set out for your life. You may be unsatisfied with the fact that things are not going your way. Well I’m here to tell you two things. Firstly, God’s plan for your life is so amazing and you have not seen anything yet. Today is not the end of the road– it’s just the beginning. And secondly, if you read the remainder of the passage, you will note this one word that sticks out to me like a sore thumb. “And they all ate and were SATISFIED” (Matthew 14:20a NASB). They were satisfied. God wants only the best for you, and if you allow Him to work in your life, His promise to you is that you will be satisfied. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it is a promise from our faithful Father.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
– Psalm 16:11 [ESV]