Jesus’ message and ministry had great impact during His lifetime. However, at the same time, it was counter-cultural and repulsive to a lot of people. His messages were not easy to stomach and required a level of faith and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone that not everyone was prepared for. While the first six chapters of John cover the start of Jesus’ earthly ministry, here at the end of chapter six, we see people are already walking away.
Jesus’ miracles and gifts of healing and food were always welcome and drew a crowd; however, when He began teaching and explaining the truth of why He had come and what was required to follow Him, people turned back. Therefore, after the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus’ subsequent teaching on the bread of life, John records this sobering result.
Bread is an important life staple. Almost every culture and people group have used some sort of grain to create a bread-like item that sustained them and was a source of food. The feeding of the five thousand included bread and an extreme surplus. Remember that even though Jesus multiplied both the loaves and the fish from the original lunch, it was the bread that filled twelve baskets of leftovers afterwards. Bread doesn’t spoil as quickly as meat, plus it is easy to transport and also filling. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that bread has become an important source of sustenance for mankind.
However, the nourishment that comes from bread is temporary. We eat it and become hungry again within a couple hours. While bread gives our bodies what they need in the moment, it never fully or permanently satisfies. But the bread Jesus offers not only fills our spiritual needs and wants, but it gives life eternal.
The feeding of the five thousand was an amazing miracle meant to build the disciples’ faith, reveal Jesus’ power over all things and ability to create food from nothing, and show the world Jesus’ compassion and provision for needs. However, after that mountain top moment, Jesus withdrew from the crowds and His disciples and retreated to spend some quiet time alone with God. Eventually the day came to a close and the disciples decided it was time to head towards their home base in Capernaum even though Jesus was nowhere to be found. But this didn’t seem to faze the experienced fishermen, so they got in their boat and started across the Sea of Galilee.
As we near the end of our time in John 1-6, we read one of Jesus’ most well-known miracles in His entire ministry: the feeding of the five thousand. So many truths and lessons can be gleaned from this miraculous story of five loaves and two fish, but I want to focus our attention on one specific truth: our God is a God who multiplies exponentially above and beyond all we could imagine.