Of all miracles performed by our Lord Jesus, the feeding of the five thousand is the only one recorded by each of the four Evangelists (Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17). There must be something about it of special importance.
(Vs. 1) "AFTER THESE THINGS." After the healing of the impotent man, the persecution of the Jews because He had done these things on their Sabbath day, and after His lengthy discourse on His deity, power, and mission, He left Jerusalem and went over the Sea of Galilee. Our Lord LEFT the presence of the unbelieving Jews (Matt. 15:13-14). What a warning to every traditional religionist!
(Vs. 2) This was generally the case. Almost everywhere He went He was followed by crowds, which saw the miracles and were attracted to Him as a clever physician and a worker of miracles; but they totally failed to perceive that He was the Son of God, the Saviour of sinners, and the true Messiah (John 2: 23-25; John 6:25-26). We see the same thing today people following clever evangelists, faith healers, and miracle workers, but few interested in Christ the Redeemer of sinners.
(Vs. 3-4) Our Lord withdrew from the multitude, weary with their unbelief, weary with their self-righteousness and empty traditions, and sought a quiet place to be alone with His disciples. John noted that the Passover (a feast of the Jews) was near. The Lord's Passover had degenerated into "a feast of the Jews." The Passover was near; the "the Lamb of God," Who was in their midst, was unknown and unwanted!
(Vs. 5-6) Evidently our Lord came down from the mountain, and the great multitude, which had followed Him, was still there. Matthew says, "He had compassion on them and healed their sick" (Matt. 14:14-15). The Lord then put Phillip to a strong test. He knew what He was going to do; but to test the faith of Phillip, He asked him, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"
(Vs. 7) We see in Phillip a portrait of ourselves, and in his answer our own thoughts and words in daily trials and difficult situations. Phillip had seen our Lord make wine of water and heal hopeless, impotent people; yet when our Lord asked him how the multitude was to be fed, Phillip began to calculate his own resources and ability to accomplish it. Two hundred pennyworth of bread would only give each one a "little" to eat. Imagine talking of "little" in the presence of infinite power and riches! What is our feebleness compared to His power? What is our emptiness compared to His fullness? Instead of looking to Him, Phillip, like us, looks to himself and his own strength (Phil. 4:19). "The birds without barn or storehouse are fed; From them let us learn to trust for our bread. His saints what is fitting shall never be denied, So long as it is written the Lord will provide."
(Vs. 8-9) Evidently unbelief is infectious! Andrew, like Phillip, seemed to forget what he had seen and learned. All of them seemed blind to the glory and power of Christ. Andrew said, "There is a lad here with five loaves and two fish, but what are these among so many?" They both were CALCULATING WITHOUT CHRIST! (Psalm 78:19-22; Gen. 18:14.)
(Vs. 10) How patient the Lord was with His unbelieving disciples! There was no rebuke for either Andrew or Phillip (Psalm 103:13-14). "Make the men sit down." Mark says they sat down by companies in ranks by hundreds and fifties (Mark 6:39-40). SIT DOWN because our God is a God of order (I Cor. 14:33), and the activities of the flesh must come to an end if we are to be fed the Bread of Life (Psalm 23:2).
(Vs. 11-12) He did not scorn the loaves because they were FEW nor the fish because they were SMALL. God is pleased to use small and weak things (I Cor. 1:26-31). He is pleased to use means. OUR LORD GAVE THANKS! He teaches us to acknowledge God as the giver of every good gift and to own Him as the One Who provides! He gave to His disciples, and they gave to the people. God is pleased to use human instruments in accomplishing the work of His grace (Eph. 4:10-13; II Cor. 4:7; II Cor. 5:18-21). They were ALL FILLED. When He feeds us, we are satisfied (Col. 2:9-10).
(Vs. 13) Then the disciples gathered up what was left and filled twelve baskets. There was abundance for all, and the boy had twelve baskets to take home. The liberal soul is made fat (Prov. 11:25).