This week our lesson is on the feeding of the five thousand.  I am trying to pick places in the Bible, and the place for this story is kind of difficult.  I am going to say a Galilean mountain side.

This story is found in all of the gospels:

  • Matthew 14:13–21
  • Mark 6:31-44
  • Luke 9:10-17
  • John 6:5-15

Thinking Through the Story

Bread is easy to pack in a lunch, but fish is a little different.  Nowadays, I would take some of my cooked (probably lightly breaded) fish and place it each in a Tupperware container or a zip lock bag.  Then, I would put that in thermal lunch bag with our little “football”, which is one of those ice things you freeze in the freezer and use it to keep food cool.

Without these modern conveniences, how did the boy pack the fish in his lunch?  One of the kids in Awana asked if the fish had its head and eyes on.  I hadn’t thought about it, but I tend to imagine whole, raw fishes with big loaves of bread.  If you really think through it though, that doesn’t seem practical.  Surely the people didn’t eat the fish raw, and I can’t imagine Jesus building a small fire and cooking the fish.  Maybe he did while the people where sitting down.


One of the things I thought was interesting was the fact that they were put into groups for eating.  I believe what the Bible is trying to communicate is that they did the feeding in an orderly fashion.  There was no long line that everyone waited in for their food.  They didn’t just make one big mob and start haphazardly passing around the food.  No, they sat in numbered groups and the disciples methodically passed out the food.


So, what is the MIT, the most important thing, from the story.  I think you could go several different directions with this.  Of course, you could go with the orderly thing, and you could explain our services at church should be done in an orderly fashion.  That is the reason that we have our Sunday School rules and require the kids to obey in class.  But, I don’t think that is the reason God included this story in the Bible, and it is only a side point.

The most obvious is the fact that God will provide for us.  When the people were in need of food, God met that need in a way that they could continue worshiping and serving Him.  That calls to mind, Philippians 4:19. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Faith is another slightly related topic.  The story in John makes it a point of saying Jesus was proving Philip.  He was trying to teach something, and I believe it was probably faith.  He had been healing people and making them well, but they still didn’t seem to get that God/Jesus was all-powerful.  What struck me is that the John doesn’t mention that Jesus asked God to bless or multiply the food.  He just gave thanks.  All three of the other gospels do say that Jesus looked up into heaven and asked God to bless the food.  But still, I think it shows a confidence that God would make the food meet their needs, although it doesn’t really support the “ask and you shall receive” thought.  The key is that when you pray you must believe that God will answer.

My son brought out one more point to me.  What if the boy had not been willing to give up his lunch?  There is a whole second side of the story in the little boy.  He trusted Jesus with his food and to meet both his needs along with the other people.  It makes me wonder what the interaction was like between he and Jesus.  While the disciples were seating the people, did Jesus and the boy talk?  Did he teach him things personally?  I would suggest that in return for the boy’s willingness to serve and give up his lunch, he received some one-on-one time with the Savior.



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