So far in our study this month, we’ve seen God turn a desert into a daily feast. We’ve seen God turn a few drops of oil and grains of flour into bread that lasts for years. Today we’ll see how God turned a few loaves of bread into a picnic for thousands of people. As with the other examples, God performs miracles that supply bread for physical needs, but He wants that provision to demonstrate a great spiritual truth.
Our reading today helps us transition from the past few days of studying how bread in Scripture comes from God to meet our needs to an examination of Jesus as the Bread of Life. We’ll spend the next few days working our way through John 6.
This account in the Gospel of John of the Feeding of the Five Thousand makes clear that Jesus intended to use this provision as a sign (v. 6). Philip was thinking very literally about the impossibility of buying enough food for this multitude. Andrew was thinking about the limitations of the resources at hand—five small barley loaves and two small fish for five thousand men.
Jesus was thinking about the kind of God we serve (see Luke 9:16). He took the bread, which looked like a meager supply in the eyes of the disciples, gave thanks, and had them distribute the food to the waiting crowd. God didn’t just provide enough—He gave an overabundance. Twelve baskets full of leftovers were gathered after everyone had eaten their fill.
The people recognized that Jesus had performed a miracle of provision. Their stomachs were contentedly full, and they thought Jesus would make a great king if He could provide meals like this all the time! (v. 15). They saw the physical miracle of bread, but they still didn’t grasp the spiritual reality that the Bread of Life was right in front of them.
Apply the Word
We can confuse our material blessings for the only thing that matters. God always wants to use His physical provision to open our eyes to spiritual truth. Can we share our resources of health, finances, or time to help others? Focus on the great gifts of spiritual resources—Scripture, access to God in prayer, worship and fellowship with others—that He provides.