Bacon, eggs, toast—mainstays of the American breakfast diet for decades.

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People of my parent’s generation grew up eating this along with grits, hash browns, and pancakes.  Topping it was maple syrup, butter—real butter—and jelly—probably homemade.

Then the 80s came along and all that stuff was bad: too fattening and too starchy.  These things were too much for our largely sedentary lifestyles.

Then in the 90s we discovered eggs weren’t quite as bad as we thought (They raise both “good” and “bad” cholesterol and it’s the difference between them that matters most.).  Although it was invented in 1976, it wasn’t until 1998 Americans discovered the closest thing to sugar we could get without the nasty simple carbohydrate: Splenda.  It was splendid.

But what we put in our bodies, although very important to our health, is not as important as what we put into our souls.  Today, we come to what is perhaps the most significant chapter in the book of John: chapter 6 and it starts with the feeding of the 5,000.  This one story is so significant, it’s the only miracle recorded in all four Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

We read in John 6:1-15:

      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 signs he had performed by healing the sick.  Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival 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, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to 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 they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 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 sign Jesus performed, 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
New International Version

For better or worse, Jesus once again impresses the crowd.  They followed him probably in hopes of seeing some other miracle.  It doesn’t say they believed, it just said they followed the “signs”.  Did you notice the word “signs”?  John is reminding us that “signs” point us to belief in Jesus as the Savior of the world.  The people weren’t getting that part yet; they were still in their “impressed” stage.

However, never forget: Jesus is not concerned with impressing them but saving them from their sins. 

Then the evangelist-disciple Philip is tested by Jesus in verse 5 because he’s wondering how all these people are going to get fed.  The test was not of Philip’s intelligence or ingenuity but his understanding of Who Jesus was.

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Philip responds mathematically: it would take MORE than half a year’s salary to buy enough bread for them to have even one bite!  That was a lot of people!!  Then Andrew speaks up in verse 9 telling the Master, “Here’s a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

We’re told there were 5,000 men.  The Gospel of Matthew adds that this number did not include the women and children.  This means there could have been ten or fifteen thousand people present.  No wonder all four Gospel accounts record this miracle; this was astounding!

The people must’ve been equally impressed.  They wanted to make Jesus king right then and there, but they wanted to make Him the wrong kind of king.  They wanted someone who would feed them and give them security—just the opposite of what their oppressors, the Romans, were doing. 

Before we criticize them too strongly, we sometimes do the same thing.  We want Jesus to give us what we want when we want it.  We make our demands and pray prayers starting like this, “Jesus I know you can do this…” as if He needs the coaching.

We, too, want to crown Him as the wrong kind of king.  But His signs (miracles) aren’t meant to impress us; they are meant to prove His identity.  It’s to impress on us to crown Him King in our lives.