The Feeding of the 5000
Dr. Gerald Harris
In our text we have John's account of one of Christ's most important miracles. This miracle is recorded in all four Gospels. It is a miracle involving a multitude of people. In verse 10 of our text, the Apostle John
declares that there were 5000 men who had gathered unto Jesus on this occasion. One scholar said, "I think a woman and one child with each man would be a reasonable estimate of the crowd, which would be 15,000 people."
Think of it. 15,000 people as hungry as lumberjacks and they all need to have food given to them, for they cannot any of them travel to buy it.
I want you to think about the provision. The Bible indicates that Andrew had been circulating around through the crowd. And at last he found a little lad with five barley loaves and two small fish.
Please understand that these five barley loaves were not big commercial loaves of bread. One commentator calls these loaves biscuits. Another one suggests that what the little boy had was a pita bread. Someone else concluded that the little boy had five thin wafers. His bread was made out of Barley. Barley was thought to be the poorest of all grain, more fit for horses than for men.
Please notice that in addition to the five pieces of bread, there were two little fish- anchovies, sardines. The truth of the matter is that the meager portion of food looked microscopic in comparison to the multitude of people. If each person received only the tiniest crumb, there would not be enough to go around. So with this ratio of supply and demand the stage is set for one of the Master's most magnificent miracles.
Perhaps our story should begin in verse 5 of our text:
"When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, he say a great company come unto him." In this great company I want us to turn the spotlight upon four particular personalities. These four personalities and the roles they played in this New Testament drama will claim our attention for these few moments.
I. THE PESSIMISM OF PHILIP
When Jesus lifted up his eyes and saw the multitudes of people he said to Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" In verse 6 of our text we are told that Jesus asked Philip this question in order to test him because he already knew what he would do.
But I want you to notice the response of Philip in verse 7. The Bible says, " Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little."
Philip was the natural man to whom to turn for he came from Bethsaida, a nearby town, and he was undoubtedly familiar with the area. Jesus asked him where food could be secured. Philip's answer was despairing; was discouraging. His comment was expressive of pessimism and futility.
I wonder why Philip said, "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them." Could it be that that is the amount they had in the treasury at that time? If you will remember, Judas ...
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