“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?’
He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind
what he was going to do. Philip answered him,
‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread
for each one to have a bite!’ Another of his disciples, Andrew,
Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves
and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’
Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass
in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).
Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed
to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same
with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples,
‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’
So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces
of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say,
‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’
Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force,
withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”
John 6:5-15 (NIV)
Our Lord’s public ministry likely lasted for over 3 years. The first year is sometimes called The Year of Obscurity because little is known of it. The second year is called The Year of Popularity. Matthew, Mark and Luke are full of it. That was the story of great crowds in Galilee. The third year is known as The Year of Opposition. It begins in John 6.
In John 6 we witness our Lord creating dinner for thousands of people from the bag lunch of a poor boy. Barley was the flour of the poor, and our Lord took a humble child’s offering and from it blessed to over 5,000 people. A point we can take from this story is that even the most modest gift give to the Lord can be profoundly multiplied to the good of many.
John’s designation for a miracle is not the word used in the synoptic Gospels. They talk about a “mighty deed” where John calls miracles “signs”. In producing food for thousands from such a small source, our Lord was seeking to show to the crowd that He was the Creator God. The miracle was not first trying to satisfy their hunger. The miracle was a sign of His identity, but the people did not get it. Rather they saw in the sign a miracle. Their imaginations were captured by the display and decided where they could use that power. They sought to taken Him by force and make Him king (v.15).
How they thought they could “force” a person with the ability to create matter to do anything escapes me. It would have better if they were afraid of Him. But desperation to shake off the Roman occupational forces superseded logic and they were set to seize Him.
We can easily be caught up in the wonder of our Lord’s extraordinary power like the crowd that day and instead of adoration and worship find ourselves wondering how we can profit from the use of that power for our selfish ends. Too many professing Christians seek to make Jesus their servant rather than being His servants. Read Isaac Watts wonderful hymn of adoration and make its sentiment yours.
Join all the glorious names
of wisdom, love, and pow’r,
that ever mortals knew,
that angels ever bore:
all are too poor to speak his worth,
too poor to set my Savior forth.
Great Prophet of my God,
my tongue would bless thy name:
by thee the joyful news
of our salvation came,
the joyful news of sins forgiv’n,
of hell subdued and peace with heav’n.
Jesus, my great High Priest,
offered his blood and died;
my guilty conscience seeks
no sacrifice beside:
his pow’rful blood did once atone
and now it pleads before the throne.
Thou art my Counselor,
my pattern, and my Guide,
and thou my Shepherd art;
O keep me near thy side;
nor let my feet e’er turn astray
to wander in the crooked way.
My Savior and my Lord,
my Conqu’ror and my King,
thy scepter and thy sword,
thy reigning grace, I sing:
thine is the pow’r; behold I sit
in willing bonds beneath thy feet.
– Isaac Watts