Translations: 简体中文 繁體中文

John 6:1-21 (web)

Five Loaves and Two Fish


6:1 After these things, Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee,
which is also called the Sea of Tiberias.
6:2 A great multitude followed him,
because they saw his signs which he did on those who were sick.
6:3 Jesus went up into the mountain, and he sat there with his disciples.
6:4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.
6:5 Jesus therefore lifting up his eyes,
and seeing that a great multitude was coming to him, said to Philip,
"Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?"
6:6 This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.
6:7 Philip answered him,
"Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them,
that everyone of them may receive a little."
6:8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him,
6:9 "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish,
but what are these among so many?"


6:10 Jesus said, "Have the people sit down."
Now there was much grass in that place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
6:11 Jesus took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to the disciples,
and the disciples to those who were sitting down;
likewise also of the fish as much as they desired.
6:12 When they were filled, he said to his disciples,
"Gather up the broken pieces which are left over, that nothing be lost."
6:13 So they gathered them up,
and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves,
which were left over by those who had eaten.


6:14 When therefore the people saw the sign which Jesus did, they said,
"This is truly the prophet who comes into the world."
6:15 Jesus therefore, perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force,
to make him king, withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Walking on the Water

6:16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,
6:17 and they entered into the boat, and were going over the sea to Capernaum.
It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them.
6:18 The sea was tossed by a great wind blowing.
6:19 When therefore they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty stadia,
{25 to 30 stadia is about 5 to 6 kilometers or about 3 to 4 miles}
they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near to the boat; and they were afraid.
6:20 But he said to them, "I AM. Don't be afraid."
6:21 They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat.
Immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

Discussion Questions

What similarities do you see between these accounts and the Exodus from Egypt?
How might the multiplying of the loaves apply to your own personal ministry?
What do the left overs teach us of God's character?
Why did Jesus resist being made King?
Concerning their journey across the lake, what was the fastest way to the other side?
How does this apply to our own spiritual journey?


Old Testament Allegories:
The passover was in commemoration of the time when God passed over the Israelites to bring judgment upon their Egyptian oppressors. Incorporated into the symbolism of passover were the events of the crossing of the Red Sea and God feeding the Israelites in the desert with manna (bread) from heaven. Here in John 6 we see Jesus performing similar events, and in particular his multiplying of the loaves he associates later in the chapter with the feeding of the Israelites in the desert with manna from heaven. His walking across the Sea of Galilee may also be likened to the Red Sea crossing.

Provisions for Ministry:
Leading the multitudes through the desert to the promise land can be overwhelming. But all can be fed if we first give our five loaves and two fish to Jesus. Each of us has our own particular giftedness which can seem like only five loaves and two fish when considering what Jesus has called us to do. But it is in the midst of our weakness and humble gifts that God works wonders so that God may be glorified.

"The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation.
I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly." Isaiah 60:22
Test of faith:
We notice also that previously the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. Here the Lord led his disciples into the desert and subjected them to tests of faith. God may often lead us into challenging situations so that the quality of our faith may be enhanced. The challenge here is to believe that God can and will provide for our needs in fulfilling our responsibilities in carrying out the ministry which he has called us to. "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Php 4:19

Abundant grace:
We notice also that God didn't simply provide a sufficient amount, but an overabundant amount. He fills the cup and lets it overflow. This is a picture of God's grace which was also previously revealed in his providing 150 gallons of wine for the wedding feast of chapter 2. Invite the Lord to lunch and you'll never hunger or thirst.

Making Jesus King:
Why would Jesus object to people accepting him as King? You would think that submission to Jesus as Lord would be an objective of discipleship. But Jesus is concerned about what kind of Lord people want to make of him. Throughout history there have been people who accepted Jesus as a great prophet, as the Muslims do, or as "a god" as the Romans had different Gods, or as "a lord" in giving him authority over limited aspects of their lives so that they may supposedly receive benefits from him, such as this provision he demonstrated, while not submitting themselves in every aspect of life. This latter is a common attitude even within the Christian community. Just as these Jews saw Jesus as a political leader who could deliver them from the Romans and provide for them miraculously while they sit back and do nothing, so also many Christians view Jesus as Lord over their salvation, who provides them with eternal life and the temporary benefits they receive in this life, but at the same time are not really willing to do what he says. Though you may ask Jesus to be Lord of your life, he won't be Lord unless you do what he says. Ask him to be Lord and he might just walk away, and you're going to have to go find him again on the other shore.

Walking on the Water:
Once again we see that things which seem difficult Jesus can make easy. As soon as Jesus entered the boat the objective was reached. Perhaps rather than trying to reach the other shore by our own effort we should make it our objective to get Jesus in the boat. Left Jesus behind on your spiritual journey? Don't worry he can catch up with you even half way across the lake. No need to be terrified, he is gracious. But you must willing receive him into your boat as Lord.

NIV version used in comments

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jan 28,2022