John’s Gospel Chapter 6
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Subject -THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND. The
Fourth Sign. Study Portion - Chapter 6. 1-15.
Other passages for reading and study: Matt. 14. 15-23; Mark 6. 39-44; Luke 9. 14-17. (Quotations from A.V. and R.V.)
A lesson for harvest - "Twas springtime when He blessed the bread, and harvest when He brake'.
SUBJECT- Food natural and spiritual. Read and note the references and expressions (some thirty in number) relating to food in the study chapter. There is a constant mention of meat, manna, flesh, and hunger and thirst. The history of food is the history of the world, it has changed the course of men and nations. Paradise was lost through desire for forbidden fruit; food introduced Joseph to the governorship of the granaries of Egypt; the miracle of the manna sustained Israel in the wilderness for forty years; the meal in the barrel and the oil in the cruse is a lasting memorial to the widow of Zarephath; the words in the pattern prayer, 'Give us this day our bread for the day', is a constant reminder of the deepest need of man's nature; the want of food brought the prodigal back to his senses, his father and his home; the Saviour's first temptation had to do with bread; 'I am the bread of life' is the first of His wonderful sayings, and bread and wine arc the symbols of His sacrifice.
'Whence shall we buy bread that these may cat?' Note that the question was 'whence' not 'how', for Jesus 'himself knew what he would do', vv. 5 and 6. Philip's answer was one of human calculation, 'there is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes, but what are they among so many?' v. 9. Note the use of diminutives, viz. a 'little lad', 'barley loaves' and 'small fishes'. The lad was the instrument, but the source was God - the loaves, the lad, the Lord. Bread may be traced to the baker, the miller, the farmer, the field; but in the ultimate to God, for 'every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow cast by turning'. How much is 'little' when God is in it!
See Matt. 14. 19-21, 'He commanded the multitudes to sit down . . . and they did eat . . . and they that had eaten were about five-thousand men, beside women and children'.
Note - 1. No effort was required, the multitudes must 'sit down'.
2. No fitness was demanded; they were all hungry, faint-hearted and needy. 'All the fitness He requireth, is to feel your need of Him'.
3. No distinction was acknowledged, for ‘they that had eaten were about five-thousand men, beside women and children’.
See Matt. 14. 20 - 'They did all eat and were filled'. Christ the Bread of Life, is the sufficiency for all human need. For the man in his business, the woman in her home, the child in his school; in prosperity or adversity, in joy or sorrow - the Lord Jesus is all-sufficient. There is sufficient for all, but satisfaction only for those who partake; to be filled we must eat. SURPLUS
See verse 13 - They filled 'twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten'. Note verse 12, 'that nothing be lost'. In the midst of plenty, there is need for prudence; and carefulness must not be mistaken for covetousness. Economy is characteristic of the works of God; the manna was for one day at a time and the meal in the barrel was a daily supply. Men waste energy, time and resources, and scarcity often results; but God conserves all these and there is always a surplus in store. Abundance is characteristic of God; the Scriptures speak of His 'abundant goodness', His 'abundant mercy', His 'abundant grace', His 'abundant truth', and His 'abundant power'. God is able 'to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think', Eph. 3. 20. SEQUEL
Speculation - 'When they had seen the miracle, they said, this is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world', v. 14; 'The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thy brethren, like unto me . . . '.
Sovereignty - 'When Jesus, therefore, perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him king . . . '. This conception of Messiahship was completely false, it was based on materialism; they were prepared to compel one who could give them food without effort to be their popular king. How quickly these same people would be crying out: 'whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar'! God's King must wear a crown of thorns, before He can wear a crown of glory.
Solitude - 'He departed again into a mountain himself alone', v. 15. Never let the clamour of the crowd hinder the calm of communion; the Saviour never did. The true values of life are measured in solitude with God.