A simple thing like bread
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near.
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, "Eight months wages would not 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 the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 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 miraculous sign that Jesus did, 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 6:1-15 NIV)
This miracle happened in the north of Israel, in Galilee, by the lake and probably near Bethsaida. It was spring shortly before Passover. Other gospels say that Jesus moved to the north of Israel, the north shore of the Sea of Galilee to prepare his disciples for his death and to separate those who would be loyal from those who would not.
Growing hostility of Jesus' enemies was more and more apparent. He had called the disciples together so they could report on their recent ministries; Jesus had also just heard of the execution of the Baptist.
Events surrounding the miracle:
The crowd had followed Jesus and Jesus saw that they were hungry. He asked Philip how to get some bread to feed them. Philip was from nearby Bethsaida so would have known where to purchase bread and replies in a practical way, that it would take 8 months earnings to feed them just a little bread. Phillip was pessimistic.
Andrew, more helpful, presented a boy's lunch: small flat barley cakes, made with the cheapest grain and 2 fish, probably small pickled fish. Andrew doubted the value of this. "How far will they go?" The barley loaves were small and several such loaves would be eaten in 1 meal, a poor man's meal.
Jesus shows his wisdom and power and his desire for order. He had the people sit down to keep order while distributing the food. John says there were about 5000 men. Matthew stated there were also women and children, probably totaling over 10,000. Lots of people!
There was no great fanfare at the miracle. Jesus thanked God for it and the food was multiplied as the disciples distributed it. Jesus seemed to have increased the food by breaking it indefinitely til all had their fill.
In spite of the miracle of the supply, Jesus didn't allow any waste of the surplus. 12 baskets full of the broken food were taken back to Capernaum.
The miracle was obvious and the people alluded to the Prophet which is probably from Deuteronomy 18:15.
"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him."
(Deuteronomy 18:15 NIV)
Moses provided bread and water in the wilderness so the people would expect the Prophet they expected would do the same! So these people wanted to make Jesus their king. They didn't understand Jesus' mission and he left, withdrawing to a mountain.
This fourth 'sign' (miracle) is very very significant. It is in every one of the Gospels.
I had learned some wonderful information concerning Jesus, the Bread of LIfe just a few years ago: Jesus is Messiah (Christ). He was born in the House of Bread (the meaning of the word Bethlehem) and after he was born he was placed in a feeding trough (manger). He is referred to and refers to himself as the Bread of Life.
Bread is an important subject throughout the Bible. It was made from the grain that people grew for food. People used it for food to live.
Melchizedek brought wine and bread when Abraham won the battle rescuing his brother Lot and others. Melchizedek, a priest, blesses Abraham with his kindness, with the bread. This was a foreshadowing of Messiah. Genesis 14
When the children of Israel were traveling in the wilderness, they had manna each day. Manna, in the Hebrew means, "what is it?" When they asked this, the answer was "bread the Lord gives you to eat". Another foreshadowing of Messiah. Exodus 16
The bread of the Presence was on the table in the Temple at all times. It was the showbread and was set out before the Lord every Sabbath. It was placed in the Holy Place. I see Jesus, the Bread of Life, my Sabbath. He is in the Holy Place interceding for us. He is our priest, our Savior who gives us life.
The priest was to wave the 2 lambs before the Lord together with the bread for the first fruits. Messiah was the first fruit, the Bread of Life and the Lamb of God. Leviticus 23
Jesus commands us to eat the bread and drink of the wine to remember him til he comes.
The Lord has taught me some amazing things as I study his Word. This is one more that leaves me in awe.
But I think there is more in this miracle. It's about himself, of course, Jesus, Yeshua Massiach. The Savior, the Bread of LIfe. I think there is more to this one. It's something about the massive multiplication...
I can't put my finger on it but I know there's something important to be learned there.
I'll post it if He shows me. If anyone else knows, please add it in comments. I think it's important but I've missed it.
To conclude here, Jesus himself, later in this same chapter speaks of himself as the living bread:
"I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.I am the bread of life.Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died.But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.â€
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, â€œHow can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."
(John 6:47-58 NIV)