Verse of the Day Devotion: John 6:9
“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” – John 6:9
Over the next week we will be looking at seven miraculous signs performed by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John. These signs show that Jesus was not just some ordinary man but was truly the Son of God. Today we will look at the fourth sign which is the feeding of the five thousand in the wilderness.
This miracle is unique in that it is the only miracle during the ministry of Christ that is recorded in all four gospels. Jesus had just traveled to Tiberias on the other side of the Sea of Galilee and a great number followed Him. According to John it was because of the signs which He performed on those who were sick. Jesus then went up on the mountain with His disciples. It is not said here the name of this mountain, but because of where the verse describes its location, it very well could be what is known today as the Golan Heights.
Now the Passover was coming up, but they remained in Galilee because of the Jews desire to get rid of Him. “And after these things Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.” John 7:1. There was a great multitude of people, and as they were coming, He asks Philip. “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” John 6:5. Jesus asked Philip this to test Him. “And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” John 6:6. Philip responds telling Jesus that even if they all worked for several months, we would not have the money to feed them all. He could only think in traditional ways, and not beyond to the miraculous. According to D.A. Carson, “Since a substantial proportion of a worker’s wage went into daily food, this was, presumably, enough to provide for a family for eight months or a little longer. But the crowd was so large (v. 10) that even such a large sum of money would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Then Andrew pipes in. “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” John 6:9. Then Jesus responds. “Have the people sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So, the men sat down, in number about five thousand.” John 6:10. How was this going to work?” Now, Matthew clarifies the number of people as, “And there were about five thousand men who ate, aside from women and children.” Matthew 14:21. Based on the amount of food the young boy had, there would be about one loaf of bread for every one-thousand people. However, this did not stop Jesus. “Jesus therefore took the loaves; and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise, also of the fish as much as they wanted. And when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments that nothing may be lost.” John 6:11-12. How could there by any leftover food? Well, there was. “And so, they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten.” John 6:13. As you can see, there was a lot more leftovers than there was food available. There is no way to see this except that it was a miracle.
Next, we see the purpose for this sign. “When therefore the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, this is of a truth the Prophet who is to come into the world.” John 6:14. They saw this as proof that Jesus was the prophet promised by God through Moses. “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” Deuteronomy 18:16. And, “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And you may say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:18-22. The people find in the miraculous sign sufficient evidence to argue that Jesus is the expected Prophet who was to come into the world.
Christians should also be reminded that their problems are never too large (the “many” of John 6:9) for God to handle. Surely, Andrew was wondering, “What good are we going to do with only five loaves and two fish?” Theoretically, believers know God can easily multiply whatever He wants, to feed as many people as He wants, to meet the needs of all His people —He is God. The problem comes when we are faced with a practical outworking of the theory; we tend to doubt that God will want to meet our need. However, we must remember what Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi. “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.