John 6:1-15 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 would not buy enough bread 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.
The crowd saw Jesus doing many signs, and they had to keep following him. Jesus went up on the mountain and sat down with his disciples. But he sees the large crowd coming. Clearly they didn’t go home to eat. They just kept after Jesus, wanting to see more of him. Jesus had a desire to feed them. There was no money to buy enough bread. But a boy was found who had five barley loaves and two fish. Barley loaves were like a poor man’s bread. The fish was likely dried or pickled, ready to eat. Is that enough to feed the estimated five thousand? And that number was just the men. The women and children would add more. So Jesus had everyone sit down on the grass. Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and he gave to them bread and fish to those who were seated. When they were full, the disciples gathered up the leftovers, and saw twelve baskets worth of bread fragments.
This was a sign. The people saw it and proclaimed Jesus to be the prophet who is to come. Jesus knew they wanted to take him by force and make him king, so he escaped again to the mountain. Alone.
Study and Meditation Questions
Jesus already knew the miracle he was to perform, but he still asked Philip how are they going to feed these people. Why would Jesus ask us questions when he already knows the answer?
Who went to each person on the grass and gave them food?
Who was the prophet they were hoping for?
The people who had the bread and fish from Jesus were fully satisfied. Jesus provided more than enough as there were so many leftovers. We sometimes have desires, or a hunger, for something that needs to be satisfied. We may have a desire to feel accepted, so we try to hang out with friends or acquaintances, or even strangers, until you feel that you are accepted. You may have a desire to do feed your family, so you will find a job that allows you to do so.
What kind of desires do you have, and where do you go to be satisfied?
Have you been fully satisfied, or do you have the desire again?
What is your greatest “hunger” for?
The people came to Jesus to see a sign, but instead they got a meal. But then the meal in itself was a sign. What does this sign point us to? Read John 6:26-35.
Jesus used this sign to show that he himself is the bread that God sends from heaven. In him you will have full satisfaction. In him you will have eternal life. The bread he offers, which is himself, endures to eternal life. Meaning this bread will not perish, it will not go stale, it will not start to get moldy. It will endure. Jesus will endure. Even though his body will be broken, and he will die. He still endures. He will be resurrected.
In John 17, Jesus explains what eternal life is: to know the only true God and Jesus whom God has sent. To know – to have a relationship with Jesus, is what eternal life is. It is a relationship that will last into eternity. It is a relationship that is established at the cross, where Jesus’ love for you was displayed. Eternal life doesn’t begin when we die, but it begins now when we know Jesus.
In week 4, let us consider eternal life, our relationship with God, which was lost when Adam and Eve sinned, and how it will give us full satisfaction in our life. We may still have our needs and desires in this temporal world, and we may also have convictions to serve the Lord that leave us unsettled. But we can walk with security, with hope, that Jesus is with you, and he will be with you in eternity. He is the bread that God gave from heaven that will satisfy our greatest hunger: to know God once again.
Rev. Alex Kolath, Vicar
Immanuel Mar Thoma Church, Virginia