"5,000 Hungry Men"


Date:  15 June, 2014

Text: John 6:1-14

Title: 5,000 Hungry Men



1 ¶  After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

2  And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

3  And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.

4  And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.


·        "The passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh." Interestingly they are close on the calendar to a Jewish feast but geographically they are far removed from any place where they can eat.

·        They had gone, "up into a mountain" and had found a place to sit with the disciples. Jesus was no doubt instructing his disciples in the school of true faith. They are going to get a lesson on this day that they will not soon forget.

·        They've been followed to this location by thrill seekers. There is a large audience  (about 5,000 men) interested in miracles that have come a long way to watch the Master of miracles. Jesus will not disappoint them.



I. Sometimes doubtful thoughts have divine origins.

exp. There is a question put into man's heart by God. It is Jesus and not Satan who asks a question for which man has no answer.

ill. We enjoyed watching a film about the Exodus which Adele told us about. They present a very good argument for Israel crossing the Red Sea over the gulf of Aqaba. They showed how the likely route was down a dry river bed with immense walls on either side. When they exited that canyon they came out onto a sandy beach that had no where for them to flee the Egyptian army behind them.  But, who had brought them there? (Not Satan but God.)

app. Satan didn't bring them there to test them but God did. Sometimes doubtful thoughts have divine origins. The disciples are not going to be tested by Satan but by God.

            A. An impossible situation for Philip.

                        1. Jesus saw the opportunity to teach his men heavenly sight.

5  When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip,

exp.  Jesus knew that one of the biggest obstacles to the faith of his disciples is sight. Afterall, "seeing is believing" to men.

quote: Paul 2 Corinthians 5:7  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

ill.  A man in our church in MI worked on classified infrared technology. It is basically night vision that see's objects by heat they emit.  When you are in the dark, those goggles when turned on allow you to distinctly see.

ill.  When Jesus was crucified the disciples were plunged into darkness. But, Jesus had given them the glasses of faith through which they could see. Thomas was rebuked for demanding to see "with his own eyes" and "touching with his own hands" to believe. He didn't have the joy of faith that operated by God illuminating Word.

John 20:29  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

app.  One of the greatest dangers to our faith is the desire to "see it with our eyes to believe" rather than "seeing it through God's Word to believe." Our story this morning shows us that God will take opportunity to teach us to walk by faith and not by sight.

                        2. Jesus asked a logical question that had an illogical answer.

Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

exp. Jesus asked about "buying" bread even though he knew that the answer to the men's need was not a grocery store in the wilderness and a large amount of money. He is not deceiving Philip. He is asking a logical question. But, His question had an illogical answer.

note: Another great failure of our faith, is in our reasoning.

ill.  William McDonald "'Not that I speak in respect of want ...' Philippians 4:11

    It is noteworthy that Paul never made his own financial needs known. His was a life of faith. He believed that God had called him into His service, and was utterly convinced that God pays for what He orders....     C. H. Mackintosh took a dim view of publicizing one's own personal needs. "To make known my wants, directly or indirectly, to a human being is departure from the life of faith, and a positive dishonor to God. It is actually betraying Him. It is tantamount to saying that God has failed me, and I must look to my fellow for help. It is forsaking the living fountain and turning to a broken cistern. It is placing the creature between my soul and God, thus robbing my soul of rich blessing, and God of the glory due to Him."

exp.  Logic says, "Tell everyone about it the need." But, many great men of God have done the illogical thing and kept silent because they were convinced that was God's mind on the matter. (Hudson Taylor, Goerge Mueller and many others.)


Proverbs 3: 5  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

app. God doesn't ask us to be foolish with our thinking. But, when our thinking leans one way and God's leading leads another way, we are to have the wisdom to follow God's Word.

            B.  A point of faith for Philip.

6  And this he said to prove him:

exp.  Jesus has suddenly put a test in front of his servant.

def. prove: to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself.

question:  How have you responded to tough questions which God has put into your heart?

ill.  I don't think I've lived long enough yet to have faced many difficult questions. But, we have on occasion faced some. Interestingly like the question in our story they are often financial.

1.) How will I provide for my family when we start deputation full time with no support.

2.) How will we pay a 60,000 dollar medical bill which we incurred in the will of God?

exp.  Some here have had to face far more difficult questions put to them by God.

ill. Our friends the Pastor Tim Richmond and his wife Sarah started a church in NYC. It's very expensive and they've been living with 4 kids in a two bedroom appartment. God has just provided a beautiful "fixer upper" home for them. It is far more than they could have ever dreamed for.  Tim has had that question of "Can God provide a home for my family" on his heart for several years and he admitted how he struggled to pick that up by faith.

app.  God is going to grow our faith by asking questions to build our faith. Those questions are not easy for us at the time because they often strike very close to our heart.

            C. An answer never questioned in the heart of God.

                        1. He knew the answer.

                        for he himself knew

exp.  Philip had no clue what the answer was. But, Jesus never questioned what the answer was.

ill.  When we return to the US we may get to go through a Corn Mazes with our kids. The corn can be way over your head and very thick. You have a map but you occassionally also have a platform where you can get above the corn and see where you are going. If you could just get above it, there is no confusion as to the direction you need to go.

Job 3:23  Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?

exp.  The hedges may be about us, but God has never not seen the way to go. All we have to do is look to him for His guidance. He always knows the answer.

                        2. He was the answer.

                        what he would do.

exp.  Philip was looking at the answer to the impossible question - it was Jesus.

Jer 32:27  Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

app.  I don't know what problem you are facing today, but I do know the answer to your problem. The answer is JESUS. He is the answer to every problem in life.


II. Sometimes there are no human answers to God's questions.

exp.  They answer was not to be found by sight or by reason.

            A. Philip "There are too many people."

7  Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

exp. Philip answered by reason as if to say, "Master, do you know how much food and money it would take to feed so many men."

ill.  Remember the spies report from Canaan. What was their reasoning, " Nu 13:33  And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. (We'll continue that illustraton as we see Peter's response.)

            B. Peter "There is too little food."

exp. Peter answered by sight.

ill.  The spies answered by sight. Numbers 3: 28  Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.

app. Warning bells ought to go off when we are doing what we know God wants us to do and we express doubt based on what we can see.

                        1. Peter's eyes saw little ability on the part of man (boy).

8  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

9  There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes:

exp. Master, here is a SMALL boy who had a mum smart enough to send a SMALL lunch for the journey.

note: Isn't it interesting that God used a boy with little instead of a man with much?

app.  Don't despise small things in your life or in the life of others. Small things in God's hands accomplish great things.

                        2. Peter's eyes saw total inability on the part of man.

but what are they among so many?

exp. Peter did not really believe that this was the answer.

ill. Remember Sarah - Genesis 18: 13  And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

14  Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

note: Samuel didn't think David was the next king but God did.

app.  Careful, you may jokingly/sarcastically resond to God and find out that you are right but your attitude is wrong.


III. Sometimes we just have to act by faith.

            A. The disciples had to announce tea time with no prepared food.

10  And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

exp.  Jesus didn't break the bread and then give command for men to be seated.

ill. Joshua 3: 14 ¶  And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

15  And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

16  That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

17  And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

app.  Are you ready to step out by faith on God's orders?

            B. The disciples had the best view of the miracle.

11  And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

exp.  Can you imagine how these men this went from unbelief to joyous faith? Jesus said to sit down and now what are we going to do. Peter look at that, he is breaking the bread and there is continually bread in his hands. Aren't you curious why there wasn't just one loaf and one fish. The disciples know the answer.

app. It is a blessing to hear stories of faith. But, it is far better to live them and get to see God work first hand.

            C. The disciples had to guard God's abundant provision because it was exact.

12  When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

13  Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

exp.  12 baskets were filled with left overs. Why? I don't know. But, I do know that God's provision is exact.

·        Perhaps they were sent back with the boy to provide an income for his mum.

·        Perhaps they met future needs of Jesus and the disciples.

·        Perhaps they were for those who were still coming but were late to the miracle.

app.  When God meets the need wisely use what He has given. We are stewards of God's provision.

            D. Men's faith was established because of God's miraculous provision.

14  Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

exp.  How this story of the creative power of Jesus has thrilled children and adults for the last 2,000 years. Even in our godless society, many would have hard the name, "The feeding of the 5,000."

exp.  This would be an exceptionally dumb story to tell if it had never happened. You have 5,000 hungry witnesses who would testify against you. But, on the other hand you would have 5,000 who could verify the facts of this account.

app.  How is your faith today? If it's week and needs sight, look at the facts recorded in this story. Only the One who was sent from God could do such amazing things. Truly Jesus is the Master of miracles.


Are you struggling with a test of faith today?


1) Sometimes doubtful thoughts have divine origins.

2) Sometimes there are no human answers.

3) Sometimes we just have to act by faith.