John 6:1-21- A Boy, His Lunch, and the Heavenly Feast

Explanation- This account of Jesus feeding the five thousand is a favorite among many, and rightly so. There are few of His miracles that were so publicly performed as the one we have here. This miracle, although some may say it is but a simple miracle, displays the almighty power of God Himself! Much like the creation of the world was Ex Nihilo (out of nothing), so the bringing forth of this unique meal was Ex Nihilo as well. Sure Christ began with more physical material here than He had during the creation, but the principle still remains. What a sight this would have been! After Jesus gave thanks and praise to God, He began to break the bread and hand out the fish. During this process there was a continual creation of new substance as these elements were multiplied before the people’s eyes! This indeed is no small feat!

This account also shows Christ’s care and compassion to the multitudes. He very well could have sent them all on their way and moved onto His next task, but for our Lord this feeding was His next task. He chose to provide, He chose to show generosity and compassion. There is also a generosity on the part of the boy who offered up this meal. We are not told much of this boy other than it was he who offered up his portions. Could it be that this boy knew more of the way of faith than these disciples who had been so long with Christ? Was he assured within himself that Christ could indeed take his meager rations and supply for the multitudes? Did he understand something about Christ’s power and nature that the rest did not? ‘Unless you turn and become like children’, Jesus said in Matthew 18:3. This may be complete speculation as we do not have any contextual evidence to guide our thoughts on the boy, but I do believe that it is an appropriate speculation. It is said by one that, ‘He could as well have multiplied the loaves whole; why would he rather do it in the breaking? Was it not to teach us that in the distribution of our goods we should expect His blessing, not in their entireness and reservation? There is that scattereth and yet increaseth.’[1] Certainly through this little boy’s lunch we see a powerful example of kingdom conduct and power.

There is also much to be said about the crowd’s response to this miracle. It says that after seeing this sign they believed this to be the Prophet who was foretold to come. Just who were they referring to? In Deuteronomy 18 Moses spoke of a Prophet who would be raised up in the latter days. This would be a mighty Prophet, such as Moses was, but this Prophet would be even greater! So here we find the people making a correlation of Christ with this piece of Old Testament prophecy, yet they still are not seeing the greater picture of what the Prophet’s purpose was. The Prophet who performed signs and wonders would also be the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. He would be the Righteous Branch, the King of David, and a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. They were seeing but one role of Christ and sought to enthrone Him prematurely, but Christ knew that His duty was not yet through and He withdrew Himself.

This final section where Christ walks on water speaks to us of Christ’s great power over the natural order. In times of rough waters and strong winds, a man may be weary to even set sail, yet we find our Lord walking in the midst of the wind and the waves. They are His and He has no fear of their power for it is He who gave the sea its’ waves and the wind its’ strength. As He approaches the disciples’ boat and steps aboard, they are immediately brought to shore. This kind of teleportation can only be the work of God Himself!

Application- As we look to this account, let us pay close attention to the conduct held on the day of the feeding. This little boy, who offered up all he had to the Savior, found his meager rations multiplied in a way that seems physically impossible! Is this not so in our own dealings? What we offer to God in comparison to what He has freely given to us is almost embarrassing. He needs nothing from us and there is nothing that we could give to Him that could add to His stature; nor anything we could remove that would take from His majesty. Yet there is this beautiful truth that exists- when what we offer is produced with a heart of faith, then God is able to take our weak, feeble offerings and use them to glorify His great name! It is in such things that our Lord takes delight and we find joy. In light of this great truth, let us offer ourselves entirely and completely to the Lord and in turn make ourselves usable in His service. He is able to take the little that we now have and turn it into something great for His name sake!




[1] Ryle, J. C. Expository Thoughts on John (volume 1). Place of Publication Not Identified: Banner of Truth Trust, 2012, 233.