Key Verse: 6:9, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
* JESUS' SHEPHERD'S HEART (1-9)
1. When and where did this event occur? (1,4; Mk 6:7,30,31) Why had Jesus and the disciples apparently come to that place? (3) Why had the crowd come? (2)
2. When Jesus saw the large crowd coming to him, what did he say? What does this reveal about his attitude toward them? (Compare Mk 6:34, Mt 9:36) How is Jesus different from most famous, busy people?
3. To whom was Jesus' question directed? (5) What was Jesus' purpose in asking this question? What was in his mind to do? (6) Why did Jesus test his disciples and what was he testing?
4. How did Philip answer? What does his answer show about him? Did he understand Jesus? Did he pass the test? Why or why not?
5. Which disciple spoke up? Where have we met him previously in this gospel? (Jn 1:40,41) What did he do and say? How was he different from Philip? What did he believe about Jesus? What can we learn from him about prayer?
* JESUS BLESSES ANDREW'S FIVE LOAVES AND TWO FISH (10-15)
6. How did Jesus cowork with his disciples? (10) Why was it important for them to participate?
7. How and why did Jesus bless the loaves and fish? (11) What shows the abundance of God's blessing? (11-15) What can we learn here about God's way of working? About the importance of living by faith instead of by calculation?
THE FIVE LOAVES AND TWO FISH
Key Verse: 6:9
"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish,
but how far will they go among so many?"
In John's gospel there are seven miraculous signs: First, turning
water into sweet wine (2:1-11). Second, healing the royal official's
son (4:43-54). Third, healing the man who had been an invalid for
thirty-eight years (5:1-9a). Fourth, feeding the 5,000 hungry people
(6:1-15). Fifth, walking on water in the middle of the night (6:16-24).
Sixth, opening the eyes of the blind man (9:1-7). Seventh, raising the
dead Lazarus (11:38-44). These signs help us open our spiritual eyes to
see that Jesus is God. In today's passage, Jesus' feeding the 5,000
people is the fourth miraculous sign in John's gospel. All miracles
were done not to demonstrate his magic power. But they were done
because Jesus had a great shepherd heart for his people and wanted his
disciples to do the same for God's flock. His feeding the 5,000 people
teaches us that Jesus has a great shepherd heart. Jesus also teaches
us to have faith to feed the 5,000 hungry people with five small loaves
and two small fish.
I. Jesus' shepherd heart (1-9)
First, Jesus' company's vacation was frustrated by the crowd of people
(1-4). Look at verse 1. "Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the
far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias)."
According to John's gospel, it seems that the preceding event was the
healing of the invalid man (5:2-9). According to the flow of the gospel
narratives, the evangelistic journey seems more adequate (Mk
6:7,30,31). The evangelistic journey for the disciples was intensive
for the sake of evangelistic campaign to come in the future. During the
time of the evangelistic journey, they had had exciting experiences. In
the past, no one had ever listened to them. But when the disciples
depended on the authority of Jesus, "They drove out many demons and
anointed many sick people with oil and healed them" (Mk 6:13). After
the evangelistic journey, Jesus knew that the disciples needed some
rest. So Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee with his
disciples. Perhaps the sun had already begun to set as the disciples
got into the boat. As the sun slipped behind the western horizon and
the boat glided smoothly through the placid water, the disciples were
very happy, so happy that they began to sing. They enjoyed the cool
sea breeze and the gentle sound of waves. What a surprise! Out of
nowhere, they heard something that sounded like the sound of a
thunderstorm. But it was not. It was the sound of the crowd. Why did
they follow Jesus? It was because they saw the miraculous signs he had
performed many times. They went there expecting another miracle of
Jesus. All those who came to Jesus were sick or needy people. When we
read the gospel stories, we find so many kinds of sick people: the
paralyzed, the blind, men with leprosy, and many suffering from
demon-possession and those under Satan's torment. So they came to Jesus
for help. The Jewish Passover was near, so people who came to the
Passover Feast heard that Jesus was nearby. They came to Jesus one by
one until they formed a large multitude. As a result, they frustrated
the vacation of Jesus' company, and they made tremendous impositions on
Second, Jesus had compassion on them. The crowd of people frustrated
the vacation of Jesus' company. They figured out and somehow came to
the place where Jesus and his disciples planned to have a vacation. The
crowd of people thronged about them and the vacation was frustrated.
But what did Jesus do for them? Jesus went up on the hill so that he
might see all the people at a glance without missing one (3). Jesus
welcomed them and wanted to help them.
Jesus saw them with shepherd heart. Jesus saw them with God's eyes.
Matthew 9:36 says, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them,
because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a
shepherd." Jesus was compassionate instead of being irritable. Again,
Mark 6:34a says, "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had
compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd."
Jesus thought that they were in that miserable situation not because
they were wrong, but because they had no shepherd. Jesus saw them with
God's shepherd heart. We must also see people as Jesus did. We must
also see that their problems came because they had no shepherd. Jesus
knew that the people were hungry and that they had to eat something.
Jesus was a mother-like shepherd who always wants to give something to
her children, good food, good clothes--anything, even herself.
Third, Jesus tests Philip's faith. Look at verse 5. "When Jesus looked
up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where
shall we buy bread for these people to eat?'" Jesus knew that the crowd
of people were very hungry. Mark 8:3 says, "If I send them home
hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a
long distance." So Jesus said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for
these people to eat?" When Jesus said this, he hoped that Philip would
say, "No problem, sir. I will figure it out by any means, sir. I
believe that God helps those who help themselves, sir." But he did not
say so. Look at verse 7. "Philip answered him, 'Eight months' wages
would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!'" He was really
a brilliant person. He could estimate the size of the crowd at a glance
and give an immediate answer that eight months' wages would not be
enough for each to have a bite. But he failed the test mainly because
he only calculated, then despaired. Jesus was eager to use brilliant
people like Philip. But Jesus could not use Philip, because he depended
only on his calculation. Philip was smart. But he had no faith in God.
God cannot use those who only calculate. God can use those who have
faith in God.
Without being smart, we can't survive in this competitive world. But
we must know the meaning of the word "smart." In the dictionary, the
first meaning of "smart" is "to cause sharp and stinging pain." The
second meaning is "to feel distress or irritation." "Intelligent" or
"clever" is the third or fourth meaning. Now we see clearly that the
first definition is very true. Many promising young people suffer from
anxiety and restlessness. Many brilliant people die of heart attacks
caused by anxieties. Many are trying to escape from reason and despair
and become a kind of "Unabomber." A young man was asked why he stayed
up all night and slept all day. He said, "I can't sleep at night
because I suffer from anxiety." When he lived in this way, he became a
college drop-out. Next he became a truck driver. Recently he lost his
Philip failed also because he was a nihilist. He always thought from
what he did not have. When he thought about the situation of his
pocket, he became helpless. Perhaps he regretted being a disciple of
poor Jesus. His habit of thinking from what he did not have made him a
nihilist. These kinds of people see only what they haven't received
from their parents or from God, even though they have received so much.
They are very bitter toward others and toward God. These nihilists
compare themselves with others and find out what others have and what
they don't have. Actually, Jesus had already decided to feed the crowd
of 5,000 people (6b). When Jesus asked Philip, "Where shall we buy
bread?" it was to test him, to see if he had faith in God or if he had
a shepherd heart.
Fourth, Andrew's faith (8-9). Another disciple appears on the stage. He
was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. When Andrew had led his brother
Simon to Jesus, Jesus was only interested in Simon (Jn 1:42). Jesus
seemed to have ignored Andrew as if he were not there. This time, too,
Jesus didn't pay any attention to Andrew, but spoke only to Philip, who
looked brilliant. Anyway, Andrew drew Jesus' attention. He said in
verse 8, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small
fish, but how far will they go among so many?" He brought five small
barley loaves and two small fish to Jesus. The loaves and fish Andrew
brought were not even his own. Maybe Andrew saw a boy who had brought a
lunchbox for himself. Andrew drew near the boy and coaxed him to give
them to Jesus. Here, Andrew looks very funny. But we can learn three
things from him.
Firstly, Andrew was a man of possibility. Philip thought only of
what he didn't have. He didn't have eight months' wages, so he could
not feed the 5,000 people. But Andrew was different. He began to think
about what he had. He dug into his pocket to see if he had some money.
When his finger did not feel money in his pocket, he didn't think that
he had no money. He didn't think, "I can't do anything because I have
no money." Instead, he began to look around here and there. When he
found nothing, he looked around here and there again and again until he
found a boy with a small lunch box. He took it away from the boy. I
don't know how he talked the boy out of his lunch. Perhaps with a big
smile he asked him for his lunch box. "That's it!" But there is more
than comedy in this story. We learn from Andrew how to find a certain
possibility, even when the situation looks impossible. His full name
may have been Andrew the Possible.
Andrew took the five small barley loaves and two small fish away
from the boy and brought them to Jesus. He said, "Here is a boy with
five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go
among so many?" A little while ago, he had made a little boy cry by
taking his lunch box away. Now he made Jesus laugh by offering him this
tiny lunch box to feed the crowd of 5,000 people. If he had eight
months' wages, he would have tried to feed one million people! Andrew
was a man of a certain possibility and a brilliantly creative person.
Secondly, he was a man of faith. He had faith in Jesus. When Andrew
brought the five loaves and two fish to Jesus, he knew that they were
not enough to feed the crowd of 5,000 people. But he believed that
Jesus would accept these loaves and fish. Yes! Jesus accepted his five
loaves and two fish. Andrew was a man of faith. He had faith, "We can
do nothing, but Jesus can do everything" (Php 4:13). We are weak, but
Jesus is strong! All we have to do is bring five loaves and two fish to
Jesus. When Andrew brought five loaves and two fish to Jesus, he was
not making fun of anybody. When he brought five loaves and two fish, he
was not depending on the lunch box; he was depending on Jesus. He had
faith in Jesus. He had faith in Jesus that he would accept his five
loaves and two fish as his expression of faith. One young man committed
himself to campus evangelism. But he had no special ability. So he had
been a doorkeeper of UBF centers for 15 years. His faithfulness was his
five loaves and two fish. In God's time he became the Korean UBF
director. One young man, the only son of a widow, was persistent in
nagging his widowed mother's love. His persistence was his five loaves
and two fish. He gave his persistence in doing God's work as his five
loaves and two fish. Then, God blessed his ministry. Now he has 900 of
God's sheep under his care. God gave each of us at least five loaves
and two fish. We must discover what our five loaves and two fish are.
We must give them to God. Then God will not only bless us, but also
this nation and the world.
Thirdly, he was a man of prayer. "Here is a boy with five small
barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so
many?" When we read this sentence prayerfully, we find that this is
Andrew's prayer to Jesus. He knew Jesus' shepherd heart and that Jesus
desired to feed the crowd of 5,000 people. When he brought the five
loaves and two fish, it was Andrew's earnest prayer. Jesus accepted
Andrew's five loaves and two fish and fed the crowd of 5,000 people.
Faith makes the impossible possible.
II. Jesus' blessing is overflowing (10-15)
First, Jesus coworks with his disciples (10). When Andrew brought the
five loaves and two fish, Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Here
we see that Jesus didn't work all by himself. Jesus is not a loner.
Jesus coworked with his disciples. To "make-sit-down" job seems to be
nothing. But we can't deny the fact that Jesus coworked with his
disciples. It is the way of God. God worked with Abraham. Jesus worked
with Peter. To cowork or not to cowork makes a big difference in
Second, Jesus asked God's blessing upon the five loaves and two fish
(11). Verse 11 tells us that Jesus looked at the five loaves and two
fish. It was far too small an amount to feed the 5,000 people. But
Andrew brought the five loaves and two fish by faith. Jesus prayed to
God that he would bless Andrew's faith that he brought the five loaves
and two fish. Jesus prayed that God would accept his sincere prayers
and feed the crowd of 5,000 people with Andrew's five loaves and two
Third, God's blessing overflows (12-15). What did Jesus do with the
five loaves and two fish? He fed the hungry people until they were all
satisfied. God blessed Andrew's five loaves and two fish. When they had
all had enough to eat, Jesus said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces
that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." So they gathered them and
filled 12 baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over
by those who had eaten. God blessed Andrew's faith until it
In this passage we learn that we must live by faith, not by
calculation. Moreover, we must give our five loaves and two fish to
God so that God can bless us and this nation abundantly.