In John 6, Jesus took His disciples to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, away from the crowds to a deserted hill country to rest. But when they landed on the shore, they found that the crowds had followed them. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus had compassion on the people, and He spent the entire day teaching and ministering to them (Mark 6:34).
At the end of what was surely an exhausting day, Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” (John 6:5). You see, the crowd had hurried to follow Jesus, and in their haste, they neglected to pack food.
In response to Jesus’ question, Philip looked at the crowd and said, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little” (John 6:7). While we read that there were five thousand men in the crowd, this number does not include the women and children (John 6:10). Some scholars think there were as many as twenty thousand people. Philip concluded that it would cost about eight months’ wages to give everyone in the crowd a small amount to eat.
Meanwhile, one of the disciples, Andrew, combed through the crowd to see if there was any food available. He found a little boy with a little-boy sized lunch: five barley loaves and two fish. These five barley loaves were likely only four or five inches each in diameter, and some Bible translators believe that the “two fish” were merely tidbits of sardines.
In verse 11, John writes, “Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated.” This is when the miracle took place. Jesus fed the entire crowd with the five loaves and two fish. We don’t know what Andrew and Philip and the others thought as they helped distribute the food, but we do know that everyone was satisfied and no one went home hungry.
It is not surprising that after such an amazing miracle of provision, the crowd searched for Jesus again the next morning. When they found Him, they asked, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” (John 6:25). But Jesus did not answer their question. Instead, He said, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:27).
Jesus offered the people something much greater than full stomachs; He offered them eternal life! Jesus explained further, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not hunger” (John 6:35). The Lord had provided bread from heaven to their fathers in the wilderness, but that bread spoiled and never fully satisfied. The living bread from heaven that Jesus described would fully satisfy, never perish, and give eternal life to all who believe. Praise God for sending His Son, the bread of life, who has showered us with grace, sustains us with His provision, and “gives life to the world” (John 6:33).
By Dr. Paul Nyquist, President of Moody Bible Institute
Dr. Paul Nyquist is the ninth president of Moody Bible Institute and featured speaker on Moody Radio’s program “Moody Presents.” With his theological training, pastoral heart and global focus, Nyquist is leading Moody to go across the globe, cultures and generations to equip people with the truth of God’s Word, using new technology, in an agile and innovative community. He and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for 30 years, have four grown children, and are proud grandparents of one child.