As he writes in John 20:31–32, John the Gospel Writer is selective about the signs and teachings of Jesus that he shares. So, whilst reading this very familiar passage, we need to ask: why this miracle/sign and why this moment and place?
Besides the miraculous multiplication of bread and fish, what other significant details does John share that show Jesus’ intentionality in performing this sign? What was Jesus revealing and teaching, about his true nature and identity as the Messiah, when he fed the five thousand?
Read John 6:1–15 together
- In verse 4, John writes that ‘the Jewish Passover Festival was near’. Although it might seem like a casual mention at first glance, it is significant detail.
- What were Jews thinking about and celebrating in particular during the Passover Festival? (cf. Exodus 12:1–28)
- How does this relate to what Jesus has been sent to do?
What is Jesus teaching the people about his identity? What does he reveal about himself?
- Jesus, seeing the crowd gathering, asks Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ and John lets us know that Jesus was testing Philip (verses 5–6)
- What was Jesus was testing?
- What do Philip and Andrew’s responses tell us about their understanding of who Jesus is (verses 7–9)?
- Jesus takes charge (verses 10–12)
- What does he say and do and how does he involve the disciples?
- Why do you think the miracle is described in such an understated way? What does it reveal about Jesus?
- Why do you think Jesus provided so much more than ‘enough’? What does it reveal about him/what point might he have been making?
What does this passage reveal about human nature?
- Compare verses 2 and 14–15
- How does John explain Jesus’ popularity with the crowd at the start? What are they seeking?
- After seeing the miracle, people recognise Jesus as the promised Prophet. Read Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 18:15–18 to see where this realisation originates.
- The people have grasped something of importance but verse 15 reveals they do not fully understand. Why would they want to ‘make him king by force’? What kind of king are they hoping for?
So what? What does this mean today?
- Like the people in this passage, what are some ways you think the nature of Jesus’ kingship is misunderstood in our society and even churches today?
- Have you become aware of any misguided perceptions you have, or had in the past, about how Jesus should act in our lives and what it means for us to follow him?
- How could you use this passage to share the far more amazing truth about who Jesus is and what it means to follow him?
- Give thanks for who Jesus is and what the sign of the feeding of the five thousand reveals about him and the abundant life he offers
- Confess the times when you have been seeking the wrong things from Jesus and ask God to correct anything you have misunderstood about him
- Ask God’s Holy Spirit to shape your mind and heart to love Jesus for who he is and worship and praise him for the right reasons
- Give thanks that what Jesus offers is far more than a life supply of bread! He is the bread of life and whoever comes to him will never go hungry and whoever believes in him will never be thirsty. (See John 6:35.)