Studies in the Gospel of John- The Fourth Sign
I. The Feeding of the Five Thousand
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:1-15)
A. As we look at the signs recorded in the Gospel of John we will attempt to describe them, as Arthur Pink says, in three ways. 1. The Typical Significance 2. The Prophetic Application 3. The Practical Teaching.
B. When reading the Gospel of John always ask questions of the Holy Spirit, who is the author of the book through Apostle John. As this book records, He, the Holy Spirit, will lead us and guide us into all Truth.
II. The Practical Teaching
A. Jesus was at the Sea of Galilee with His disciples. A great multitude followed Him because of the miracles He was performing on the sick. He sat with His disciples and beheld the people. There he asked Philip “Where shall we buy bread to feed them?” Philip’s response was a practical response. Two hundred days wages would not be sufficient to purchase the bread needed and where could they find such a supply. The problem was twofold. 1.Means 2.Supply
B. Andrew presents a young boy with a meager means and a tiny supply. Five loaves of bread and two small fish are all they seem to have. Jesus is not interested in your ability, nobility, or stability, just what you have submitted to His Lordship, use, and direction.
C. He commanded that the people should be seated. It was then they were able to number the men. Five thousand men were seated. Jesus gave thanks and gave the fragments to the twelve disciples and the disciples gave them to those seated. God will administratively show forth His glory and goodness in our lives. Do not resist the organization of circumstances in allowing the Lord to work on your behalf and even manifest His glory through it.
D. Jesus commands them to gather the fragments so that nothing is lost. It is in the gathering that the real miracle is displayed! There they all realize that everyone is filled and there are twelve baskets of bread left over.
E. The people then began to think or maybe recite an Old Testament prophecy that Moses had given them. Deuteronomy 18:15
III. The Typical Significance
A. We are talking about the types and symbols of the event.
B. He sat with His disciples on a mountain top. This is very typical of the scene in the wilderness where God’s presence is on the top of Mount Sinai, and the multitude of Israelites come toward Him on the Mount.
C. Jesus took care of their basic need for food, there is no record of them asking for it. Matthew 14 records that the disciples asked the Lord to send them away to go find their own food. It was the Lord Jesus that was interested in meeting this need. Exodus 16 describes the Lord providing Manna in the wilderness.
D. Five Barley Loaves, Two small fish…Of course Five is the number of Grace and two is the number for A Witness. That which will feed the multitude is Grace and it will be a Divine Witness to His Nature and Character.
E. “Make the People Sit Down” We are seated with Christ in Heavenly places and it is only in us being seated that we can Feast. (Ephesians 2:6)
F. Five Thousand is representative of 5×1000. A thousand generally illustrates the completeness or fullness of something in view without it necessarily being the totality of it. Therefore this is a multitude upon which Grace is bestowed.
G. He gives the supply to His students which in turn are commissioned to give it to the people. The bounty is not realized until we give!
H. Twelve baskets are gathered up, which the number twelve generally represents divine government and apostolic fulness.
IV. The Prophetic Application
A. This is the next step in the prophetic destiny of the Gospel during the church age. The Gospel goes forth into the world among the great multitudes. It is Grace that is poured out on the peoples that witness to His divine origin and as a result they feast on Him, our Passover. It is the plan of God to distribute this great message and this great presence to His disciples to distribute to the people. It is when they give it away that their is great multiplication of those impacted.
B. As a result we see that He is the Bread of Life (Manna from heaven), John 6:35, and The Prophet spoken of by Moses and still the multitudes realize He has come not just to them but into the World. (verse 14) Apostolic Fullness is realized when we carry the Bread of Heaven to the multitudes of this world!