This morning as we examine our text I want to also help you understand a great way to do Bible Study without the need for a bunch of extra resources.
As we read our text this morning, I want us to observe. Use our five senses as best as we can these two millennia later. Put yourself in the story, what do you see, hear, taste, smell, feel.
Pay attention to the Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why?
1 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 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?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 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. 11 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. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15 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.
Lett’s go through and find our observations:
WHO is in this story:
A large crowd - about 5,000 men.
his disciples - specifically mentioned are Philip, and Andrew, Peter’s brother.
Boy - with 5 barley loaves and two fish
WHAT is happening, look at each character and see what is happening.
Jesus - he knows what he is about to do. v. 6 He looks out on the crowd and asks Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”
A large crowd - following him because they saw signs that he was doing on the sick. They are told to sit down on the grass, and they do so. And Jesus distributes the 5 barely loaves and two fish and they are able to eat as much as they want. They proclaim “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
His Disciples - They’ve followed Jesus to this place and have sat down on the mountain side with Jesus.
Philip is the one Jesus asks the question of. The text does not tell us why specifically he asked Philip except to say Jesus knew what he was about to do.
Andrew - Simon Peter’s brother, knows there is a boy there with 5 loaves and two fish. Says, “What are they for so many.
Disciples later gather up twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. (No mention of leftover fish).
Boy - had two fish and five barley loaves.
WHEN - It’s Passover. In john this is the second of three Passovers mentioned and the only one in which Jesus is in Galilee.
WHERE - By the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. There’s a mountain nearby that Jesus and his disciples go up on and sit down, and that Jesus withdraws to at the end.
WHY - We’re not told Why Jesus did this within our verses, but if we keep reading through the chapter we get some hints it is an illustration that Jesus is the bread of life.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
HOW - Jesus gave thanks for the loaves and distributed them to those that were seated. So also with the fish. Then after they had all eaten 12 baskets of leftovers are collected. No explanation of how - except that Jesus did it.
After you’ve examined all the facts, and there are a lot more observations we could make of our passage. As one professor of mine used to say, “give it the lemon drop treatment.” That is to let the scripture roll over again and again in your mind. Savor it. What do you see? Good, Keep looking. what do you see? Keep looking.
Scripture is like infomercials constantly reminding us, “but wait! There’s more!”
Let’s focus in on the boy.
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?”
No name is given. Andrew knows he’s there, and knows exactly what he has with him.
How? - we’re not told. This is where interpretation starts to come in.
All good interpretation is based on good observation.
So who is this boy?
We never learn his name.
Is he just a part of the regular crowd?
Could he be one of the disciple’s sons? (I would think that would be mentioned - but it could be).
How is it that Andrew knows he’s there?
Was Andrew super hungry and seeking out anyone that had food?
Was Andrew interacting with the boy and saw it?
When Andrew heard the concern Jesus had to feed everyone did he begin asking around?
Did the boy overhear Jesus question to Philip? - We don’t know.
Why is this boy mentioned?
He out of all the people is the one who came with food? That’s unlikely - but it is possible.
Because he’s the one willing to share his food? - that’s interesting.
There are those who interpret this passage as when the boy gave up his food that others were willing to do the same and so everyone ate and was satisfied. But remember all interpretation is based on solid observation. When we look specifically at the text - v. 11
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.
John is pretty specific where the loaves came from. And after they were done eating, when everyone had eaten their fill, Jesus tells them to “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.
And when we get to verse 14, the people have seen the sign that Jesus had done, and so they want to make him King!
This boy was prepared. But in his preparation he was self-less. 5 barley loaves and two fish for one young person. Obviously he was a pre-teen or as they’re often called now a “tweenager.” They can eat a lot! But he’s not selfish with it at all, in fact he ends up giving it all up, and yet the disciples at the end, after Jesus has taken it given thanks and distributed what the boy had, collect 12 baskets full. I can only imagine they may have offered some of that to the boy. (that’s an interpretation). Perhaps he didn’t take it because he’d already eaten his fill.
In the midst of an overwhelming need (5000 men) this boy has 5 barley loaves and 2 fish.
We’re often faced with overwhelming odds. If you remember David and Goliath, the Israelite army had drawn up sides against the Philistine army it was going to be a long drawn out and bloody battle. One of the Philistines was a huge man named Goliath. And everyday he would come out an taunt the Israelites and say, “Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” The Israelites stood there in fear. Day after day.
Then one day David is bringing his brothers food and he hears Goliath issuing his challenge. He says, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” His brother sees evil in David’s heart.
Well you know the story. David takes on Goliath. My friend Jim Burns observed: “The Israelites looked at Goliath and said, ‘He’s so big there’s nothing we can do to make a difference.’ David looked at Goliath and said, ‘He’s so big, if I do something I can’t miss!’”
We are a small church. Some may think, “We can’t make a difference in our community.” I think if we examine the Bible we would have to disagree with that statement. We can make a difference.
God has given each one of us resources and knowledge that we can offer for the furthering of the Kingdom. It’s not just about money, it’s time, it’s knowledge, it’s love, it’s Christ. How has God prepared you? Know that God has prepared you. Now Go!
Now let’s stop for a moment. It’s easy to come up with an application for all of us to do, and thus have the diffusion of responsibility. But we’re all responsible. Jesus asks each one of us to follow Him. So, in your notes, on your sheet of paper, in the back of your bible, wherever, I want you to write down one specific thing you will do this week in offering your time, treasure, knowledge, love, and faith up to serve. IF you’re looking for ways to serve, come see me. I’ll help you find something.