Okay. Once again we are back to looking at the doctrine of the Trinity and the more I go through this, the more important I see the doctrine as. I am in a debate at the moment with someone who is saying that how we describe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and their relationship doesn’t matter. It most certainly does! A non-Trinitarian concept is not just a different religion but a different God altogether. Right now, we are in the gospel of John and going through looking for clues to this wondrous doctrine and seeing how Jesus sees himelf. Today, we are going to be looking at the feeding of the 5,000.
This miracle is interesting as aside from the resurrection, it is the only miracle that is recorded in all four gospels. Not all record the feeding of the 4,000, including John himself, but all do record the feeding of the 5,000. It is John who adds the extra part on that tells us more about what made this event so amazing to the people.
Keep in mind that the people were looking for a prophet like Moses to be the Messiah. One miracle of Moses was that he was the one who God used to provide manna in the wilderness while the Israelites wandered for those forty years. Jesus is encountering now a crowd that has come to see him and is hungry and is asking his own disciples how they are to provide food. Philip tells him that eight months wages would not provide a single bite for everyone that is there. Philip looked straight at his wallet. Of course, can we really blame him? Christ wanted to reveal to Philip the enormity of the situation and if Philip’s accessment was correct, it was most certainly an enormous one.
However, one boy comes forward and he has a small offering with him. For all we know, it could have been lunch for him and his friends. It certainly would not be enough to feed 5,000, and that’s not counting women and children. However, Jesus does accept the offering and he prays over it and then has them be handed out to the crowd that is already waiting.
When Moses gave the manna, each man was to take as much as he needed. When Jesus feeds the 5,000, each man takes as much as he wants. This is something greater than the manna in the wilderness. God’s generosity is extending even more at this point. Each person there eats and they eat until they are satisfied. There are even leftovers. Christ has the disciples go and gather them and from the few barley loaves they gather twelve baskets full of remains.
It is at this point that the people realize the kind of person in their midst and they say that he is the prophet Moses spoke of. While they are correct, their problem is not their correct accessment of Jesus but their incorrect accessment of the Messiah. They were expecting a political leader who would break the bondage of Rome. They were reading their own time into the text. Christ did not come to set them free from Rome. He came to set them free instead from the greater prison of sin.
While we do see Christ’s miraculous ability to provide food here, the main reason for this passage being studied today is that it sets the stage for what comes next. Seeing as we’ve covered the walking on the water already, we will skip ahead instead to the next portion the next time we discuss the doctrine of the Trinity.