Also in Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17
The main idea that is set forth is that Jesus is the source.
This miracle is in all four gospels therefore it is important. Why? I think it is because the message of the miracle is so important.
The location according to the text is in a “desert” region. There was green grass so it wasn’t too barren. The word “desert” means a remote place. Perhaps the gospel writers used the word “desert” because in the OT the desert was where God met, tested and blessed his people.15
Jesus had withdrawn with the disciples for several possible reasons:
It was time to take a break, but the crowds followed Him.
After teaching all day, the disciples approach Jesus (according to Luke 9:12 and Mark 6:35) and suggest He send the crowd away to find lodging and food. Evidently many of the people had travelled a great distance to hear Jesus.
Jesus tells them to feed the people (Matt 14:16), and He asks Philip where they should buy bread to feed the people (John 6:5). Jesus is testing Philip. He already knew what He was going to do. He was asking Philip to see if he knew, to stretch him. Is this deceitful or misleading? No. It is like asking your son, “OK, How are we going to fix the bike?” You know how you are going to fix the bike, but you want your son to use his head, come to some conclusion and act on it. This was a test designed to teach. Jesus wants them to deal with their own thoughts and their own solutions before He shows them what He is going to do. His goal was for them to come to Him and ask Him to do it.
He also questions Andrew as to the amount of money (Mark). There is not nearly enough money to feed this crowd. Jesus is showing them that there is no way they can solve the problem on their own.
What do they have? Just a little boy’s lunch. Children were of little value in that culture. They weren’t even counted with the 5000. I think the significance of this is that God uses someone of no account to perform the miracle.
We can’t help them, send them away. (Matt 14:15) Rather than turn to Jesus, they give up.
Feed them. Now that they recognize their inability and inadequecy, He tells them to feed the people. If they can’t do it in their own power, what should they do?
Perhaps Jesus has them organize them in groups of 50 because it will make the crowd easier to count and the disciples will then have a concrete number to remember. There wouldn’t be any estimating later that would sidetrack the issue.
He gives thanks to God for providing the food. It shows His dependence on the Father. He is modeling for the disciples.
He breaks the bread and distributes to the disciples to give it to the multitudes. The impact of this routine on the disciples should have been overwhelming as they went back to Jesus time and time again to get what they needed to feed the multitude.
How many trips would you have to make before it came to you: “Everything I need for them, I get from Him.” “Everything I need for them, I get from Him.” “Everything I need for them, I get from Him.” “Everything I need for them, I get from Him.”
(1) They recognize Him as a prophet (6:14)
They think he is the great prophet of Deut 18:8. He is the one who is greater than Moses. Perhaps they were taken back to Moses with the manna, Elijah with the widow, Elisha, etc. Now, here’s Jesus doing it on a much grander scale.
(2) They want Him to be a king (6:15)
Isn’t this great? They finally recognize Jesus is the King.
Do they really recognize Jesus as the King? What kind of king were they wanting? They wanted a king that would put a chicken in every pot, put bread on the table, someone to deliver them from Rome, etc.
In the next discourse the multitudes leave him because they don’t like the message that He is the bread of life. They like the whole wheat bread, but they don’t want a Savior. The problem with self-righteousness is that they don’t want to admit that they need a savior. They do not see sin as serious enough for God to send His Son to die.
As we read through the gospels we see the reason people don’t accept Jesus as their Savior. One of them is that people don’t think that they are that bad of a person. We can always find people who are worse than we are. Sure, they will admit that they do wrong things, but they are not that bad. It takes humility - the poor in spirit - to admit it.
Their problem was this: Their view of the kingship was physical and their view of the Lord was partial.