It’s Not About The Miracles, It’s About God’s Love
John 6:1-15 ESV
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.
It was approaching the Passover, and many came to look for Jesus after seeing the miracles he had performed to heal the sick. Seeing the large crowd, Jesus asked Philip where they could buy bread to feed all the people. This question must have come very unexpectedly for the disciples. Who would have expected that Jesus would want to, or have the means, to feed such a big crowd?
A similar account in Matthew 14 provides a little more detail — the disciples had asked Jesus to send the crowd away so that they could go to the towns and buy food for themselves. Jesus disagreed with them and told the disciples to give the crowd food instead.
John noted that the question was meant to test them as Jesus already “knew what he would do”. He knew that the boy was going to offer his loaves and fish. And he had already intended to feed the crowd. It was not out of a desire to perform miraculous signs to impress everyone. They were already impressed by how he miraculously healed many people. In fact, the incredible impression from the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 created an adverse effect that Jesus didn’t want — they tried to make him king by force.
Jesus didn’t perform miracles to please or impress. He healed the sick because he felt for them and understood their pain. He fed the 5,000 because he was concerned that they had not eaten and wanted to provide for them.
Jesus instructed the disciples to have the crowd sit down on the grass and then provide them with food. This reminds us of a verse in Psalm 23:1-3, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.”
God wants us to lie down to rest, and He’ll restore our soul. He desires to keep us by His side so that He can care for us, protect us and provide for us. We have been “going to the towns to buy food for ourselves”, but God wants us to slow down, trust Him, and have good fellowship with Him.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6 NIV)
God wants us to dwell in His house. God wants to live in us too, because He loves us. The feeding of the 5,000 is not about the miracle, it is about God’s love.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.