1After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?"10Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world."
15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
Many of the miracles that Jesus performs are not one-off, isolated acts of supernatural power. Instead, the miracles of Jesus harken back to certain episodes in the life of Israel, suggesting that the miracles themselves are prophetic fulfillment of those earlier OT episodes. Such is the case with the miracle of the Feeding of Five Thousand. The earlier episode alluded to is Numbers 11, where Moses is asked to find food/meat for the Israelites suffering in the desert. Comparing Numbers 11 with John 6, we find a number of similarities: a plead/question about needing food (Num. 11:13; John 6:5); people eating (Num. 11:21; John 6:7-9); the disparity between the need and the resources supplied by YHWH/Jesus (Num. 11:22, 32; John 6:7-9, 13).
What are the prophetic strands? (1) Jesus is the Greater Moses. Moses, in the mind of Israel, is the Great Deliverer. Jesus shows Himself as someone who is greater than Moses. Jesus delivers and provides. (2) As YHWH provided, Jesus provides. The divine provision points to Jesus' divinity (the seven "I Am" sayings in John also reinforce this Johannine theme of Christ's divinity). But in John's account, something more is added: the miracle leads to Jesus' discourse that He Himself is the ultimate Bread of Life (vv. 25-59).
For those who were with Jesus on that mountainside, for those who understood the meaning of Jesus' miracle, the message was quite clear: Jesus is more than a teacher of Israel, Jesus is more than a prophet, Jesus is more than a great deliverer. This "more" of Jesus points ultimately to his core identity: the Son of God, the Living Word, the Bread of Life.
Is Jesus your Bread of Life?
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we come before you and declare that you sustain us. You are our very Sustenance. You are the Bread of Life. You are the One who provides, more than enough. May we lean on you for our needs today. In your name, amen.