“After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). And a great multitude was following Him, because they were seeing the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Jesus therefore lifting up His eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to Him, said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.’ One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus therefore took the loaves; and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. And when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments that nothing may be lost.’ And so they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten. When therefore the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, ‘This is of a truth the Prophet who is to come into the world.'”
Here’s my Christmas gift to you, a short missive rather than a sermon. However, Lord willing, we will come back to this passage because it is replete with imagery, and themes and is not a simple story which stands alone. Nevertheless we will zoom in on the story– one of the seven super-signs in John’s gospel account.
Yet the feeding of the five thousand men, plus women and children, was recorded by all the gospel writers. Again, it was a significant sign and an important illustration, we will therefore only scratch the surface in the context of Christmas. That is, “the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
As always, we will utilize the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics, where; Context is king, Author’s Aspirations to his Audience are apex, Genre is the general, Expository Exegesis of Examples enlightens and Dividing Rightly the Word of Truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions….albeit abridged.
“After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). And a great multitude was following Him, because they were seeing the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.”
We won’t worry about chronology or feast days today. Let’s focus on the one coming. John opened his gospel account with the beginning. Jesus was in the beginning. Jesus was the Word and was with God and was God. Yet he condescended to earth as a baby boy after he walked in the garden, dwelled in the temple, spoke to Moses and the prophets. Like the multitudes, we must see the Law and prophets in Jesus and not in ourselves and in a nation dubbed Israel. They followed Jesus because of the signs, in their day, as promised.
Let’s zoom in on the miracle in today’s text. Notice that what was left over was more than what was in the beginning. After perhaps twenty thousand people were fed, the leftovers exceeded the initial sustenance.
Christmas is almost over, go check your refrigerators, is there more food than you started with this morning?
Jesus increased and grace increased and the Covenant increased.
We have much to see in this story but we should start with the simple. Jesus made much out of very little and with ease. Why then do we believe that as he rules from heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords, that his kingdom which was promised to increase, will actually decrease? Correct, it comes from verses ripped out of context.
Merry Christmas and enjoy your leftovers.