The Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
John 6:1-14 (KJV)
1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the seaof Tiberias. 2And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up hiseyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, 9There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
In our regularly repeated Lord’s Prayer, we ask one blessing from our Lord – Our Daily Bread. We do not ask for bread tomorrow, or for bread to store up in warehouses; but only for that bread upon which we must subsist in the present day. Since God exists in the eternal NOW (the great I AM) we seek the spiritual bread of life upon which we may live eternally. The Bread of Heaven, unlike that Manna of Moses’ day, is given from grace and not subject to storage.
In the Old Testament reading from Exodus 16:4-15, we are informed of that Manna given in the Wilderness. It was to be gathered each day and only enough for that one day (except the sixth day during which two day’s supply was gathered for the Sabbath following). Like Christ, that bread (manna) came down from Heaven. But we do have a lesson in this Old Testament reading on hoarding. The Bread of Heaven cannot be hoarded. We cannot live a commendably spiritual life today and binge on sin the next.
We find a multitude of thousands who have sought our Lord’s presence on the mountain slopes of the Sea of Galilee. By number, men alone counting up to 5,000 plus women and children. Many have followed Him there out of a heartfelt need, many out of curiosity, and many out of a desire for some personal benefit of Him. Nothing has changed in the heart of man since that day. Many in our church today are here out of a need to replenish the human heart in truth. Others are here to satisfy mundane desires for acceptance and maybe even entertainment. Some are here to make business contacts or add to social status. NOTHING has changed!
But of all this multitude, there is a common condition they all share – they are all hungry for SOMETHING! And there remains another common hunger which is for physical bread for the body. Christ will serve them BOTH! His feeding of the 5,000 plus provide lessons of both spiritual and physical import to us.
Though there were 5,000 adult men present, plus the disciples, none had considered provender for the day. There was only five loaves of bread and two fishes among the multitude – and these were in the possession of a young boy. Of course, those provisions were no match for the great number requiring rations. But God can use the small things of the human frame to provide great things in its spiritual fulfillment. Most men would have held the bread and fishes close to their breast in the face of thousands of hungry mouths, but not this young lad. He had a pure heart and a generous spirit (common to many young people unspoiled by the world). He was willing to share that small deposit with an enormous multitude. In the human sense, these were not even worthy of mention for such a number; but not with our Lord! He can take the smallest provision, from the most physically insignificant source, and multiply it according to the infinite scale of Heaven.
- So, the first lesson we learn from this occasion is that all men are hungry and without means to satisfy their hunger, and, secondly, the smallest child present can be a greater benefit than a multitude of grown men. We learn that charity outweighs selfish greed and personal want.
- We learn that our faith may be tested by our Lord. He may ask a question of us to both get our attention and reveal our inadequacy of faith and ability. “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” He never asks a question for which He has no answer, being all truth. This opens the eyes of His disciples to their hopeless challenge. How will THEY satisfy such an awesome need? Of course, the answer is that it cannot be done from a human perspective.
- We learn that a little faith can open the heart to greater promise. See the human dilemma in Philip’s comment that the cost would be more than the company could possibly afford. But in Andrew’s response is a tiny grain of faith that will build into bushels of bread and fish: “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” Trying to not sound too ridiculous in his comment, Andrew asked, but “what are they among so many.” But deep in his heart, Andrew knew that the Lord could always provide shocking surprises out of impossible measures.
- There is a great point here made by Christ – never question the power of Heaven to make suffice with meager provisions. Our Lord did not even comment on the smallness of the boy’s offering. He immediately said: “Make the men sit down.” Herein are other points for our learning: first, the work of the Lord must be done in order; secondly, our labors are not required to gain the graces and blessings of Heaven. The multitude were seated while the servants of the Lord shared the bread which the Lord had multiplied. Furthermore, the Lord gives His servants a hand in performing His works of charity among those who are not believers.
- The Lord never eats, or serves his meals, without first returning thanks to His Father in Heaven. I am always inspired to see families return thanks over their meals even in public places. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples.” Notice also that the ministers of God are never the source of blessings. All blessings come from God, and His ministers are sometimes privileged to pass those blessings to the people. (From Christ to His ministers to the people).
- A great concluding lesson is the fact of, not only stewardship, but the inviolability of the Kingdom of God. “When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.Therefore they gathered themtogether, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.” John 6:12-13 (KJV) We are expected to responsibly manage the resources God has placed in our hands. In the economy of Heaven, NOTHING is wasted. Those whose souls are made NEW in Christ shall not perish – EVER! All will remain in the Twelve Baskets (the fullness of Israel). Those souls whom the Father places into the hands of His only Begotten Son shall never perish.
There is the beginning of a final lesson given in the following few verses of this chapter – the will of God is often misunderstood by an unbiblical interpretation. Seeing the power of God to provide free physical food by miraculous means, the men decided to force Christ to become their worldly (not Heavenly) king. So, He retired to the mountain for rest and prayer alone while His disciples departed across the Sea of Galilee – and into a great storm. From the mountain height, our Lord doubtlessly watched as His disciples fought powerlessly against the angry billows and tearing winds. Even after such an astounding miracle of feeding an immense multitude, the disciples had not thought to call upon the powers of Heaven to save themselves. When they saw Jesus walking on the stormy sea, they believed Him to be a ghost. We, too, often perceive the presence of our Lord in our moments of turmoil as a ghost and not the reality of His Person and help.
In our great need and want, we may be hungry for physical nourishment, or for spiritual Manna; but we must realize that our Lord can, and will, provide all our needs “according to riches of His grace.” We should seek His face even as did the multitudes by the Sea of Galilee.