Read John 6:1-15
by Pastor Gene
- Compare the four Gospel accounts of the feeding of the 5,000 men carefully (John 6:1-15, Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44 & Luke 9:10-13). What does John include or leave out that the others record? What are the differences between the accounts? Are there contradictions? How can they be explained? For example, John 6:11 explicitly says that JESUS “distributed” the bread and fishes to those who were seated; but Matthew 14:19 says that Jesus “broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the DISCIPLES gave them to the crowds.” What gives? How can we explain this?
- The Roman Catholic Church holds that when Jesus ‘gave thanks’ (John 6:11) He was instituting the Eucharist (‘Holy Communion’). Was He? Why or why not? (By the way, the Greek word used here is ‘eucharisteo,’ from which we get the very word Eucharist.)
- Luke’s account says that Jesus, “taking the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them” (Luke 9:16). After this ‘blessing’ was the bread now ‘holy bread’ as Catholicism contends? Communion bread? Why or why not?
- How many people did Jesus actually feed in this miracle? Explain the reasoning behind your answer.
- What can we learn from the fact that Jesus gave thanks before distributing the bread and the fishes?
- John 6:12 tells us that, after everyone had eaten, Jesus instructed His disciples to “gather the pieces that are leftover, so that nothing might be lost” (John 6:12). Why would He say this? He’d just multiplied the bread and fishes. Couldn’t He simply do it again?
- All four of the Gospels mention that there were 12 baskets of leftovers collected from the gathered-up fragments (John 6:13). Do you see any significance to the number 12 here?
- This is the 4th of the 7 Signs Jesus performs in John’s Gospel. What does this miracle signify? (Remember to stay within the boundaries of John’s purpose statement recorded in John 20:30-31.)
- What did the people mean by declaring that Jesus “is indeed THE PROPHET who is to come into the world?”
- John ends his telling of this story by saying: “Perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.” Isn’t this odd? Why did Jesus do this? Wasn’t the whole point of His coming to have people receive Him as King? Why would He refuse their doing so?