John 6:1
After this, Jesus crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias).
Memorial Discourse on Phillips BrooksGrenville KleiserJohn 6:1
The Feeding of the Five ThousandD. Young John 6:1-6
A Constant MiracleArchbishop Trench.John 6:1-21
A Great Multitude Followed HimCalvin.John 6:1-21
Believers Must Help ChristC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:1-21
Christ Feeding the Five ThousandJ. N. Norton.John 6:1-21
Christ Feeding the Five ThousandJ. A. Seiss, D. D.John 6:1-21
Christ Feeding the Five ThousandFamily ChurchmanJohn 6:1-21
Christ the Best ProviderC. Gerok, D. D.John 6:1-21
Christ the Bread for the WorldA. Maclaren, D. D.John 6:1-21
Christ the Lord of NatureBp. Hacker.John 6:1-21
Christ the Refresher of MankindBp. Alexander.John 6:1-21
Christ's Acceptance of the Meanest GiftsArchdeacon Farrar.John 6:1-21
Christ's ArithmeticW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 6:1-21
Christ's CompassionJ. N. Norton.John 6:1-21
Christ's EconomyCalvin.John 6:1-21
Christ's ThoughtfulnessJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
Christ's Use of MeansJ. Vaughan, M. A.John 6:1-21
Distrust of Self, and Trust in GodP. Young, M. A.John 6:1-21
Feeding the MultitudeH. J. W. Buxton, M. A.John 6:1-21
Five Barley Loaves and Two FishesS. S. TimesJohn 6:1-21
Giving and ReceivingJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
Jesus KnowsC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:1-21
Lessons for Ordinary Persons and About Little ThingsArchdeacon Farrar.John 6:1-21
Lncidental TestsDean Boyd.John 6:1-21
Philip and Andrew; Or, Disciples May Help One AnotherC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:1-21
Philip and His MasterC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:1-21
Plenty Out of Christ's PovertyArchdeacon Farrar.John 6:1-21
Sums ProvedJ. R. Howatt.John 6:1-21
Thankfulness and DistributionS. Robins, M. A.John 6:1-21
The Arithmetic of Philip and the Arithmetic of Our LordLange.John 6:1-21
The Barley LoavesW. Denton, M. A.John 6:1-21
The Church and the WorldF. W. Macdonald.John 6:1-21
The Compassion of ChristJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
The Compassion of JesusMonday ClubJohn 6:1-21
The Destination of Our LordF. Godet, D. D., F. Godet, D. D.John 6:1-21
The Feeding of the Five ThousandA. Maclaren, D. D.John 6:1-21
The Great Multitude Waiting to be FedW. T. Bullock, M. A.John 6:1-21
The Lad and the Hungry MultitudeM. G. Dana, D. D.John 6:1-21
The Maintenance of Natural and Spiritual LifeBp. S. Wilberforce.John 6:1-21
The Reason for This JourneyW. Denton, M. A.John 6:1-21
The Resource of ChristJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
The Scene on the MountS. S. Times.John 6:1-21
The Testing Power of CircumstancesDean Boyd.John 6:1-21
The Young Should be Used as Well as AmusedT. Green, M. A.John 6:1-21
Two Hundred Pennyworth of BreadC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 6:1-21
Unbelief Discovered by TrialJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
Whence Shall We Buy Bread, that These May EatCanon T. F. Crosse, D. C. L.John 6:1-21


1. The vivid description of St. Mark. In connection with this miracle, St. Mark describes the recognition of our Lord by the multitude, their running together on foot, their outspeeding the Saviour, their arrival at the place of disembarkation before him, the compassion that moved him, the instruction he gave them. He describes, moreover, the green grass on which the multitudes sat down, their divisions into hundreds and fifties, their reclining company after company (literally, a convivial party, and συμπόσια συμπόσια, a Hebraism, like δύο δύο of ver. 7) or as though in military order, the resemblance of the multitudes thus seated to the plots of a garden (πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ, equivalent to "beds of leeks," from πράσον, a leek, and the structure another Hebraism) - the whole exhibiting a stirring and life-like scene. The importance of this miracle may be inferred from all four evangelists recording it.

2. The time of year. From the fresh greenness of the grass we infer the season of the year, and can better account for the great multitudes that crowded the grassy space near Bethsaida. It was spring - March or April - and so the season of the Passover, as we are expressly informed by St. John; the pilgrim companies were on the move in that direction, and hence the greatness of the crowds tibet followed the Saviour. Another miracle of feeding the multitudes is recorded by St. Matthew, in the fifteenth chapter of that Gospel towards its close, and also by St. Mark (Mark 8:1-9). That the two miracles are quite distinct, is shown by the following circumstances: -

(1) In the miracle of feeding the four thousand just referred to, our Lord himself introduces the matter of supply.

(2) The provision for the smaller number of four thousand was greater, being seven loaves and a few small fishes; while here for the five thousand there are only five loaves and two fishes.

(3) The baskets in this first miracle are called by the four evangelists κοφίνοι, small wicker-baskets; on the second occasion they are called both by St. Matthew and St. Mark σπυρίδες, rope-baskets, so largo that in one of them Paul was let down the wall of Damascus; and from σπείρα, as if woven work, or rather from πυρός, wheat, as if a vessel for wheat. Our Lord also, when making reference to the two miracles, makes the same distinction; thus, "When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets (κοφίνους) full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among the four thousand, how many baskets (σπυρίδων) full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven."


1. The way of duty way of safety. The first lesson here taught us is that the way of duty is the way of safety: We see on the surface of the narrative the satisfaction of the multitudes on recognizing our Lord, their eager haste in coming up with him, their earnest desire for his teaching, their prolonged attention to his utterances. Long without a right guide, long wanting a true leader, long punting for the green pastures and still waters, long athirst for" the sincere milk of the Word" they have found at last the Good Shepherd; they know his voice, and follow him. They had much to learn, and our Lord taught truths he taught them, they had almost forgotten the claims of the body till the cravings of nature forced themselves upon them; at all events, they had laid aside their usual forethought for the supply of those wants. And now the day is far spent, the shades of evening are closing round them; they find themselves in a place distant from any human habitation, and destitute of the articles of human food. How are they to meet the emergency? Whence are they to obtain the refreshment they so much need? How were they to get" two hundred pennyworth of bread," which, if we reckon the denarius at eight pence halfpenny, would cost upwards of £7? No doubt they thought of different expediences. The disciples proposed one course, our Lord pursued another. The Lord is a rich provider; he never falsifies the promise, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Here, then, we are bidden to "stand still, and see the salvation of God." The result is recorded in the words, "They did all eat, and were filled."

2. The compassion of the Saviour. His compassionate heart embraces all his people's wants, and those wants at all times. In the exercise of that compassion he remembers the body as well as the soul. He remembered it in creation; he remembered it in redemption: "We wait for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. He remembers it in his providential care over it, and provision for it from day to day. With his own lips he taught this cheering lesson when on earth, Your heavenly Father knoweth ye have need of all these things." And he that gave us so much unasked, will not refuse us what we need when he is asked. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

3. Nature of this miracle by which he supplied tacit wants. Our Lord on this occasion exhibited his compassion in supplying the people's wants by an act of creative power. Some of his miracles are restorative, as when he restores sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, motion to the lame, hearing to the deaf, and power to the palsied limb. Some are redemptive, as when he rescues the poor demoniac from the foul fiends that had usurped such power over him. Some are punitive, as when he blasted the barren tree, as a symbolic lesson to all cumberers of the ground, and swept away the ill-got gains of the swinish Gadarenes. One is transformitory, as when he turned the water in the waterpots of Cans into wine. The miracle before us is an act of creative power; for in what other light can we regard the multiplication of five loaves and two fishes into a supply of food sufficient for such a multitude, so that "they did all eat, and were filled "? He lays all nature under contribution to supply his people's wants. Even an act of creation will not be withholden, if their necessities require it.

4. The Saviour's love of order. "Order," says the poet, "is Heaven's first law;" "Let everything be done decently, and in order," is the apostle's command. Our Lord confirms both by his example, in the orderly arrangement and disposition into rank and file, as it were, which he here directs. Whether we are in the Church or in the world - that is, whether we are engaged in the arrangements of the one or in the affairs of the other - we shall do well to observe this law of order. "A place for everything," says the old maxim, "and everything in its proper place; a time for everything, and everything at its right time." Such orderly regulation of all our matters would save time; it would save trouble; it would facilitate work; it would further largely the success of our pursuits and plans. Here all saw the miracle, all were fed, all were satisfied; no one was neglected, no one passed over or passed by.

5. His devotion. Never did our Lord lose sight of the glory of God. This was the object ever prominently kept in view. Before he brake he looked up to heaven and blessed, and brake at once (κατέκλασε, aorist) the loaves, and was giving (ἐδίδου, imperfect) bit by bit, as it were, to the disciples for distribution by them among the multitude. As Creator, he multiplied the loaves; as creature, he looked up for Heaven's blessing on them. From every gift we are to look up to the Giver; in every gift we are to recognize the Author; for every gift we are to record our grateful acknowledgments; in every bounty we are to own the grace and goodness and greatness of the heavenly Benefactor. To see God in all his works, to trace him in all his ways, to obey him in all his will, to adore him in all the outgoings of his loving-kindness towards us, and to see him in every blessing he bestows, is the lesson taught us by the example of Christ in this passage, and by the exhortation of his apostle in that other passage, "Whether therefore ye eat or drink,' or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

6. The duty of frugality. Mighty and magnificent as the works of nature are, there is no needless expenditure of force. Many of the great agencies employed serve a variety of ends. Many results often proceed from one single cause. So in the domain of miracle. He never resorts to miracle when ordinary means will suffice. Amid all that vast abundance which our Lord created on this occasion, he suffers nothing to go to loss. Here we see the same attention to the great things and the little things. He allows nothing to go to waste. "Gather up the fragments," he said. Surely this teaches us economy, surely this enjoins thrift, surely this enforces the old proverb, "Waste not, want not." Surely this is condemnatory of all extravagance in every department, whether of food, or raiment, or place of abode, or manner of life, or course of conduct.


1. The wonderful is not necessarily miraculous. Some hold that the daily bread which God gives us, which we eat, and by which we are sustained, is a miracle as great, or greater, because a standing miracle, than the feeding of five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, or the feeding of four thousand with seven loaves and a few small fishes. They refer to the fact that the seed covered in the earth dies and lives again, growing up under the rains of the spring and the suns of the summer, and in due season ripening into the golden grain of the harvest, then made into bread, and becoming wholesome food; and allege that in all this we have a miracle great as the multiplying by our Lord of the loaves and the fishes; that omnipotence is as much required in the one case as in the other; but that what is rare we call miraculous, while what is common and usual we call a law or process of nature; though both alike are manifestations of the mighty power of God. This reasoning appears plausible, and has an element of truth in it, but it mistakes the real nature of miracle. It is, in fact, pretty much the view of Augustine, who, besides confounding the wonderful with the miraculous, regards miracle as simply an acceleration of a natural process; for he says of the miracle at Cana that "he made wine in a wedding feast, who makes it every year in the vines; but the former we do not wonder at, because it occurs every year: by its constant recurrence it has lost, or ceased to command, admiration." The chief element of miracle is hereby overlooked. We admit that nature is an effect whose cause is God, and that omnipotence is at work in the processes of nature as well as in the really miraculous result; yet not in the same way. That which differentiates the one from the other is, that God in the one case produces the result by immediate efficiency, in the other by means of secondary or subordinate causes; in the one by a direct act of volition, in the other by the processes of nature. To attribute a miracle to the operation of a higher but unknown law is a gratuitous assumption, and is as unnecessary as it is unsatisfactory. To regard it as the result of an accelerated law of nature, is overlooking the fact that the really miraculous element in such a case is this very quickening into rapid result, or hastening in a forcible and extraordinary manner the ordinary process. It has been said, somewhat rhetorically, "We breathe miracles, we live by miracles, we are upheld every day miraculously, and that individual has a blind mind or a hard heart (or both) who does not see, or seeing does not recognize, the hand of our heavenly Father in all those gifts of his providence and bestowments of his bounty, by which we are sustained and surrounded." Now, to convert the rhetorical into the real, we must substitute for "miracles," each time the word occurs in the cited paragraph," marvels "or "wonders," that is, processes that are wonderful - indeed, quite marvellous, but in no strict sense miraculous; and then, with this alteration, the devoutness of the sentiments expressed commends itself to our admiration.

2. Daily bread, though not a miracle, is God's gift. It may be objected, that our daily bread is not so much God's gift as the fruit of man's labour. Who then, O man, we may well ask, has given you the hand to labour, the strength to use it, the health to employ it? Who, moreover, has given you the fruitful field to till, the former and the latter rain to refresh and ripen the growing grain? Or, going further back, who has imparted to the seed, sown or planted, the power of growth or development? Still further, who counteracts the hurtful effects of too much drought, or neutralizes the baneful consequences of excessive moisture, or tempers the scorching heat, or checks the pinching cold? Who protects the root from the worm that would injure it, or saves the ear from the blight that would taint it? Who prevents the mildew that would damage the maturing grain, or the disease that would quite destroy it? Or who rebukes the curse of barrenness that would render all efforts useless? Who watches over the various stages of the crop - first the blade, then the ear, afterwards the ripe corn in the ear, till, having weathered all the storms that endangered it, and escaped all the perils to which it was exposed, the golden grain is safely gathered at length into the garner? Who has thus blessed the labour of your hands, establishing your handiworks each one? Who but God? Who, then, is the Giver of your daily bread? Who but God? Thus Moses said to Israel: "When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shall bless the Lord thy God .... Beware... lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God,... and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shall remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth." Who has not admired and fallen in with the sentiments of the beautiful hymn? -

O God of Bethel, by whose hand
Thy people still are fed;
Who through this weary pilgrimage
Hast all our fathers led

"Our vows, our prayers, we now present
Before thy throne of grace;
God of our fathers, be the God
Of their succeeding race."


1. The necessity of spiritual food. From this miracle of feeding the multitude with bodily food, our Lord, as was his wont, took occasion, as we learn from the parallel passage of St. John, to call attention to spiritual food. From the bread wherewith he had fed their bodies, he passed naturally to that which is equally necessary and equally indispensable to support and sustain the soul. He showed them that, as bread is the staff of life for the body, there is something equally essential to the life of the soul. It matters not by what name we call it - whether manna, or bread, or flesh - the thing remains the same.

2. The nature of this spiritual food. He proposes himself to them for the purpose specified, telling them plainly and positively that he himself was that spiritual nutriment. "I," he says, "am the Bread of life." Nor does he stop with this; he proceeds to explain in some sort, or at least to extend, the sentiment to which he had given utterance, by the additional statement, "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." By this, as it appears to us, he hinted at his coming in the flesh and shedding his blood upon the cross; for how else could his blood be separated from his flesh but by being shed? He thus intimated, under the thin veil of an almost transparent figure, his incarnation and atonement - his life as an example, and his death as an expiation, in other words, the benefits procured by his manifestation in the flesh, and the blessings purchased by his sacrificial blood-shedding on the cross.

3. This food partaken of by faith. He enforces all this by urging their acceptance of these benefits and blessings. They have been secured, but, in order to be fully enjoyed, they must be partaken of; and they cannot be partaken of without faith - they cannot be made our own without faith; in a word, great as they are and precious as they are, they can in no way benefit or profit us without the exercise of faith. Accordingly, he sets forth faith under the suitable symbol of eating and drinking, and graciously invites to its exercise. He encourages them to the performance of this duty by several considerations of the most cheering kind. He holds forth to them the prospect of a living and lively union that would thence ensue, and ever after exist, between him and them; he promises them nourishment, life, and comfort as the consequences of that union; and he comforts them with the assurance of fellowship and friendship in time, and unspeakable felicity through all eternity; for he says, He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him;" again he says, "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed;" while he further adds, to crown all, "Whose cateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life."

4. Want of food, natural and spiritual: its effects. There is no difficulty in forming a correct idea of the condition of body that would result from want of daily bread. It would stunt an individual's growth, make him a starveling in appearance, and leave him without strength for work of any kind. Similar, but still worse, is the condition of soul resulting from the want of spiritual bread. Without Jesus, who is the living Bread that came down from heaven, there is neither life nor growth, neither grace nor strength, nor spiritual power of any description in the soul. On the other hand, by union with Christ we live. So it was with the apostle: "Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." By virtue of that union we are strengthened. So with the same apostle: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." By means of this union we receive spiritual food daily, and thus "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." By this heavenly food we are qualified for spiritual work and warfare. Hence our Lord's direction, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life." Hence the blessing pronounced on those "who hunger and thirst after righteousness;" hence, too, we can cordially join in the well-known words-

"Good is the Lord! He gives us bread;
He gives his people more;
By him their souls with grace are fed,
A rich, a boundless store." Three practical duties we learn from the whole:

(1) cordiality in accepting the provisions of the gospel by living faith on our living and loving Lord;

(2) contentment with our lot, and thankfulness for daily bread, as also for the spiritual food of the soul; and

(3) entire consecration to that God in whom "we live, and move, and have our being," "who satisfieth our mouth with good things," and "filleth our soul as with marrow and fatness." - J.J.G.

After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee.

1. To avoid the fury of Herod who had just slain the Baptist.

2. That the anger of the scribes and Pharisees (Mark 6:3) might abate. In this He teaches us to avoid all that might needlessly irritate sinners and thus confirm them in their sin. God withdraws at times from men only that He may take from them the occasion of sin. Going not in wrath, but in love.


1. To give them leisure and retirement. They were somewhat too full of all the things that they had done and taught, and harassed by the continual coming and going of the multitudes who thronged the master.

2. To train them in philanthropical as well as spiritual work.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

1. The great company flocking to Christ are the unbelieving nations of the world with a glimmering sense of their wants — a first pang of hunger for the bread of life.

2. The willingness of Jesus to supply bread is reproduced in the Church's obedience to the command "Go ye into all the world," etc.

3. The perplexity of the disciples has a counterpart in our acknowledgment of insufficient means and failure to propagate the gospel.

4. The miracle shows us that the world can only be fed by Jesus Christ. Let us consider —

I. THE NUMBER AND CONDITION OF THE MULTITUDES WHO ARE STRANGERS TO THE FAITH AND HOPE OF CHRISTIANS. 700,000,000 — about two thirds of the whole race — regarded under three great divisions.

1. Brahminism, professed by 150,000,000 — ancient, idolatrous, cruel, licentious. Not a growing religion. Energetic reformers within its fold are leading the most intelligent away from idolatry, but not to Christ.

2. Buddhism arose in the six century B.C. Its founder a philosopher, moral and benevolent. Disgusted with Brahminism, he invented a system of pure morality, but without a personal God and immortality. Numbers about 400,000,000.

3. Mohammedanism numbers about 80,000,000. It borrowed a little light from revelation; abhors idolatry; acknowledges Jesus as a prophet. Its morality is low, and its dream of a future life is tinctured with sensuality. Its history is a tissue of impurity and cruelty.

II. OUR CONDITION AND MEANS OF FEEDING THIS GREAT MULTITUDE. Christians not above 300,000,000 in number. From the commencement Christianity has been promulgated —

1. By foreigners visiting some gospel centre, as on the day of Pentecost, and carrying the seeds of life to their own homes. In no country are there so many heathen visitors as in England. Were their spiritual needs provided for here what vast good would result! 2. By colonists and traders. Professing Christian] Englishmen are everywhere. Would that they possessed what they profess.

3. By missions. Your duty is —

(1)To pray the Lord to raise up more missionaries.

(2)To ask your self whether you could go, and to encourage others to go.

(3)To support those who do go.

(4)To keep up, by reading, etc., a living interest in their work.

(W. T. Bullock, M. A.)


1. Our Lord here appears as the Master of matter and natural laws. We are, in a certain sense, the slaves of matter, and when we conquer Nature it is only by obeying her.

2. The miracle appears to have been recorded because it led to disbelief. Now men say that there is too much miracle about Christ; then they said there was too little. But if you juggle away the miracles of the Book you cannot get rid of the miracle of the man.

3. In the fulness of Christ, as here revealed, is to be found the solution of the pressing social problems of want and pauperism.

II. THE PARABLE OF THE BREAD. Christ's words are works, and His acts speak. We shall be better able to understand the refreshment which may come to us from this parable if we read it in the light of "Give us this day our daily bread." This means —

1. Give us food sufficient, and do not spiritualize this away,

2. But let us not gird in those words with the narrow rim of the loaf. Give us sanctifying bread. The words of Jesus are spirit and life.

3. There are many substitutes for the bread of Christ — morality, education, art; but in these things .is no abiding satisfaction.

4. There are those who speak as though there were two breads — a manly, undogmatic, free-speaking religion for the strong man; and Christianity for the weak man. But the time comes to the strongest when he feels that he has a woman's heart within him, and when in his hour of anguish he cries to God for bread, what will it profit him to find a stone, though it be the whitest intellectual marble. The bread for the woman and the child was the same here as for the strong man.

(Bp. Alexander.)

I. CHRIST IS READY TO SATISFY THE WANTS OF THE BODY. Many persons do not trust Him in earthly pursuits. Christianity for them is something "very spiritual." "They cannot live by prayer." "Sermons do not satisfy hunger." "Godliness does not give success in trade." The gospel and Christian experience, however, show that Jesus is a good Provider for bodily wants.

1. He has sympathy for the needs of mankind (ver. 5). Although tired and weak and engaged in the greatest affairs, yet, like a good householder, He is mindful of the least wants of His people, and provides an evening meal. He does not forget the hungry raven: will He forget those who He has taught to pray for their daily bread (Deuteronomy 4:7).

2. He awakens sympathetic hearts and hands to alleviate want. Here the disciples. The apostolic Church, in the Spirit of Christ, cared for its poor, widows, and orphans. Rome built splendid theatres: the Spirit of Christ builds hospitals.


1. Man's greatest want is bread for the soul — food that will be good when the world shall pass away, that will be palatable in old age, that will strengthen in sickness, and restore the dying.

2. The Saviour's highest act of sovereignty is the bestowment of this spiritual food.

3. His aim is to awaken desire for this heavenly bread by means of earthly good things and providences.

(C. Gerok, D. D.)

Christ's mercy was not a mouth-mercy, as was that of those in St. James' time, that said to their necessitous neighbours, "Depart in peace, be warned," but with what? With a fire of words, etc. But our Saviour, out of deep commiseration, both pitied the people and healed them on both sides, within and without. Oh, how well may He be called a Saviour, which, in the original word, is so full of emphasis, that other tongues can hardly find a fit word to express it by!

(J. Trapp.)


1. Although they knew He had gone into a desert place.

2. Some were doubtless actuated by curiosity, but others were anxious to profit by His words.

3. We may blame those who came from improper motives, but their zeal should condemn our coldness and neglect.


III. THE TRIAL OF THE DISCIPLES' FAITH. Often in this way God opens our eyes to our own weakness and His sufficiency.


1. Confusion avoided.

2. Women and children protected from rudeness.

3. Quick distribution facilitated.


1. The quality of the food was not changed, but its quantity was increased. Our Lord does not pamper luxury, but satisfies hunger.

2. The people received the bread from the apostles. Thus Christ taught respect for His ministers, because they act on His behalf.

3. The same miracle is repeated every day by a different process, and we give no heed to it (Psalm 104:14, 15).

VI. The narrative teaches us a lesson of ECONOMY and FRUGALITY. The bounties of Providence are never to be wasted; when we have more than we need, let it be given to others.

(J. N. Norton.)

We have here —


1. They were looking for the Messiah, and, if they did not exactly believe, they had a large idea that Christ was He. Their notions were more or less confused; some were influenced by gaping wonder, but all were enthusiastic to hear Christ, and disappointed His desire for rest.

2. Christ honoured this imperfect zeal. It was in some sort a seeking of the kingdom in preference to earthly comfort, and evinced a confidence in Christ that He never disappoints. And what He would not do for Himself, and what the devil could not extract from Him, is instantly commanded by human need.

3. The murder of John the Baptist had something to do with His retirement. When grace is mistreated it withdraws. What is driven away by the impiety of the great is called forth by the confidence of the poor.

4. The self-denial of the people was commendable. They had to make a long circuit and adventure into a desert region. The way to Christ is never smooth, but sincere devotion follows Christ in the face of all trials.


1. According to earthly reason, Philip and Andrew were right. In the common course of affairs the thing was impossible. But they should have known Christ better. Their faith was overborne by looking only at human helplessness instead of at Divine resources. Trust in God suffers from mammon on one side and poverty on the other. The rich disregard Providence because they have plenty; the others grumble at it and undertake to make a way of their own.


1. This has been likened to 2 Kings 4:42-44. But we see at once that the one was the work of the servant, the other that of the Master.

2. We observe the truly Messianic character of the miracle. The prerogative of God in the absoluteness of the Godhead is to create what is from what is net. But redemption is the taking of what is, and a developing of something additional. It is the making of a saint out of a sinner. Like the miracle, the redeeming process is —(1) Inscrutable. The Incarnation, the operations of the Spirit, the conveyance of spiritual aliment through the means of grace, are beyond our comprehension.(2) Gracious. Christ might have shown His almightiness in works of judgment. So now.


(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

Family Churchman.
I. OUR LORD OFTEN PUTS QUESTIONS TO HIS DISCIPLES WHICH THEY CANNOT ANSWER, AND LAYS ON THEM DUTIES WHICH THEY CANNOT PERFORM BY THEMSELVES. His object is to prove them, and to reveal their ignorance and weakness, that they may appeal to Him for help.

II. CHRIST IS THE GOD OF ORDER, AND NOT OF CONFUSION. His methodical and orderly arrangement —

1. Facilitated the feeding of the multitude.

2. Allowed the miracle to be clearly seen.

3. Prevented crushing.

4. Secured that none should be overlooked.

5. Enabled the disciples to count. Note the ordiliness of Christ's kingdom.


1. He used existing materials.

2. Employed existing agencies.

3. Although He could have created food and satisfied hunger without any aid.

4. Apologetic significance of this.



VI. CHRIST TEACHES US A LESSON OF ECONOMY IN THE MIDST OF PLENTY. However little He gives there is a surplus. But whether He gives little or much, the surplus is not to be wasted.


1. Christ is the bread of life from heaven.

2. He fills with Himself every hungry soul who eats.

3. He gives Himself by means of His disciples.

(Family Churchman.)

. — Had St. John written in Galilee for Galileans he would have limited himself to the ordinary expression; but writing out of Galilee, and for Greeks, he adds, "Which is of Tiberias." The city of Tiberias, built by Herod Antipas, and thus named in honour of Tiberius, was well known to strangers. It was so called by the Greek geographer Pausanius, while Josephus used indifferently the two names.

(F. Godet, D. D.)

The destination of our Lord: — St. Luke alone mentions Bethsaida as the place near which the miracle took place. It has been asserted that he means Bethsaida near Capernaum, and that the event therefore took place on the western shore. But this would make St. Luke contradict both the other evangelists and himself; for he tells us that Jesus withdrew to "a desert place" belonging to a city called Bethsaida. Now, the mention of such a purpose forbids us to entertain the notion that Luke is speaking of the city on the western shore, where our Lord was always surrounded by multitudes. Josephus speaks of a town bearing the name of Bethsaida Julias, situated at the north-east extremity of the lake, and the expression Bethsaida of Galilee, by which St. John (John 12:21) designates the native city of Peter, Andrew, and Philip, would be unmeaning unless there were.another Bethsaida out of Galilee. This latter was in Gaulonitis, in the tetrarchy of Philip, on the left bank of the Jordan, a little above where it falls into the Lake of Gennesareth. It was the place of Philip's death and splendid obsequies.

(F. Godet, D. D.)

Here we see how eager was the desire of the people to hear Christ. Since all of them, forgetting themselves, took no concern about spending the night in a desert place. So much the less excusable is our indifference and sloth when we are so far from preferring the heavenly doctrine to the gnawings of hunger, that the slightest interruptions immediately lead us away from meditation on the heavenly life. So far is every one of us from being ready to follow Him to a desert mountain that scarcely one in ten can endure to receive Him when He presents Himself at home in the midst of comforts. But as the flesh solicits us to attend to its convenience, we ought likewise to observe that Christ of His own accord takes care of those who neglect themselves in order to follow Him. For He does not wait till they are famished and cry out for hunger, but provides food for them before they have asked it.
When Jesus then lifted up His eyes and saw a great company, He said unto Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread." —
Monday Club.
I. IT WAS WITHOUT RESPECT OF PERSONS. He never raised the question as to race or religion. If people were in trouble it made no difference to Him who or what they were.

II. IT MEANT PRACTICAL HELP. The disciples had an interest in the multitudes which they expressed by their advice to them to go and buy food." That was cheap benevolence. But Christ's compassion never spent itself on good advice. The good Samaritan was Himself, and His conduct is the law of Christianity.

III. IT HAD REFERENCE PARTICULARLY TO SPIRITUAL NEEDS. The miracle was only a text for the sermon on the "Bread of life."

(Monday Club.)

It is related of the mighty Xerxes, that as he looked upon his countless host, and remembered how soon all, even the youngest and stoutest must be sleeping with the dead, he gave vent to his feelings in a flood of tears. What a far nobler spectacle to behold the Saviour of sinners, moved with compassion for the multitudes who followed Him, with fainting steps and sorrowing in His inmost soul, that so many whose bodily hunger Be was about to satisfy with food, would, in the end, starve their souls by refusing the Bread of life!

(J. N. Norton.)

1. It was rather to the disciples than to the multitude that the events of the day were significant. They had been taught by degrees all that was involved in "leaving all " to "follow Him." From the beginning it has been essential that a man should forsake the world. But the world may be forsaken in many ways. Some have done so out of contempt for it; others for the sake of a wholly selfish personal culture. But Christ now taught His disciples what was their mission to the world they had left. They had left it only that they might serve it more effectually, and were now to love it with a new love. Discipleship involved practical laborious service, not only to Christ, but to men.

2. There was something like embarrassment in Philip's answer to our Lord's question: but before we blame him let us put ourselves in his place. It was an unexpected appeal to limited resources. The disciples had a common purse. All their modest requirements were provided for, but all their quiet economy was invaded by a proposal to feed 5,000.

3. Christ intercedes with the Church for the world. His intercession is not only with God for us all, but with us for one another.(1) We are prone to make a life of personal edification the sum total of discipleship, turning our backs on the problems of life, suffering and sin around us. But while Christ is carrying upon His heart the burden of the world He cannot delight Him- self in a companionship that seeks to be exclusive and selfish.(2) Again Christ would not have us think less of each other as Christians, but there must be no for- getting of those who are without, the world and its terrible hunger, physical and moral.(3) Philip's answer betrays his impatience with the apparent unreasonable- ness of the question. And how often have we given the like answer, and silenced the earnest man of large faith whom Christ has made the mouthpiece for His question.

4. Andrew's reply was a great advance on Philip's. From Philip's non-existent two hundred pennyworth to Andrew's actual five loaves is certainly to make progress. It is moving out of the negative into the positive, out of that region in which our cynicism and despair so often tarries into the region of practical endeavour. Our Lord takes him at his word as we find in the parallel narrative, "Bring them to Me." A minute ago it could have been said exactly what the five loaves were worth, and how many men they would feed, but since the Lord's words, all our powers of calculation are confounded. We contemplate things in themselves with- out seeing any touch of the Divine power upon them, and so we could never make five loaves worth more than five loaves. We take the measure of a man — his natural powers, education, etc., and we leave no room for another factor that may multiply indefinitely the whole series — the living power of Christ.

5. We ought to notice that our Lord did not say, "Whence will you buy bread," but, "we," you and I.(1) Do not let us think of our Lord as throwing upon His Church dark and difficult questions for her to solve; He is rather seeking to bring her into fuller fellowship with Himself.(2) We must recognize here the proffer of our Lord's own wisdom and power for the answering of His own question. Not only does Christ intercede with the Church for, but works with her upon the world.

(F. W. Macdonald.)

1. Observe how careful the Spirit is that we should not make a mistake about Christ.

2. Learn that we being apt to make mistakes need that the Spirit should interpret Christ to us.

3. Our Divine Lord has a reason for everything he does.


1. Put with the motive of proving him. Christ would then —(1) Try his faith and He found it very little. Philip counted pennies instead of looking to omnipotence. Few of us can plead exemption from this failure.(2) His love which was of better quality, for he did not ridicule the question.(3) His sympathy. This was greater than that of those who said, "Send them away." God seldom uses a man who has a hard or cold heart. A man must love people or he cannot save them.

2. Why was it put to Philip?(1) Because he was of Bethsaida. Every man should think of the place in which he lives. A native of a village or town should be its best evangelist.(2) Because probably Philip was the provider as Judas was the treasurer. Even so there are ministers, Sunday-school teachers, etc., whose official business is to care for the souls of men.(3) Perhaps because Philip was not quite forward as others. He was about number six. People in this middle position want much proving. The lowest cannot bear it; the highest do not need it.

3. The question answered its purposes. It showed Philip's inability and weakness of faith; but only that he might be made strong. Until Christ has emptied our hands He cannot fill them.

4. The question was meant to prove the other disciples as well. Here is a committee of two. I like this brotherly consultation of willing minds. Philip is willing to begin if he has a grand start; Andrew is willing to begin with a small capital. Philip was counting the impossible pence and could not see the actual loaves; but Andrew could see what Philip overlooked.


1. He knew. "Ah!" says one, "I don't know what I shall do!" Jesus knows all about your ease and how He is going to bring you through.

2. He knew what he would do. We embarass ourselves by saying, "Something must be done, but I do not know who is to do it!" But Jesus knows.

3. He knew how He meant to do it. When everybody else is defeated and nonplussed He is fully prepared. He did it as one who knew what he was going to do.

(1)Naturally. Had it been a Roman Catholic miracle the loaves would have been thrown in the air and come down transformed. Popish miracles are theatrical and showy.

(2)Orderly: He bade the men sit down on the grass in rows.

(3)Joyfully: He took bread and blessed it.



1. The question that troubles many people is, "How shall I bear my present burden?" That is sent to prove you; but it is no question with Christ, for "as thy days so shall," etc.

2. What is to be done with this great city? The Master knows and so shall we when we begin to co-operate with Him.

3. What must I do to be saved? Inquire "What wouldst Thou have me to do and this will be solved."

(C. H. Spurgeon.).

Why this to Philip? At the beginning of all His ministry we read, "Jesus findeth Philip, and said unto Him, Follow Me." Then Philip findeth Nathanael, to tell the news. But he does not say, "We have been found," but "We have found Him," etc. A fairly good confession, though giving man the lead instead of God. No wonder, then, that by and by, even at the end, Philip was but half-persuaded of our Lord's ministry, saying, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." Philip being thus, to Philip teaching comes well in the question set to him, and he shall say and find whether bread and holy living comes from earth or heaven. He still thinks it must begin from man's side. He calculates the bread required; he gives an estimate of cost Peter comes a little nearer with a grain or two of faith; he can get "five loaves and two fishes; but what are they among so many?" That is a question to write up and keep before us, if we are ever tempted to despise the day of small things. What is the missionary among so many? or the pastor, or the Sunday-school teacher, or the district visitor? What is the adequacy of the writer, or the speaker, or the worker? of the society, of the corporate body, of the home word, or any influence of teaching or of help? They are all insufficient, palpably and avowedly, in themselves; yet they may, like the loaves here, get a sufficiency from Christ. One little agency may still become the grain of mustard seed He sows, the little piece of leaven He puts into the lump. What is an help among so many? What may it not be as it passes into our Saviour's hands?

(Canon T. F. Crosse, D. C. L.)


1. The question seemed to betray perplexity, but it was not so. He condescended to espouse this difficulty that He might bring to light that which was working in the disciples' spirits. The hinge of all mysteries is not in themselves, but in their concealment for the wise purposes of Deity. They will come out gradually and slowly, and then we shaft see how marvellously past and future coincide with each other. And all this is simply the exercise of faith. We must wait for God's demonstration.

2. Observe, how completely our Lord's purpose was answered. Three suggestions came from three different quarters.(1) To throw the multitude upon their own resources, "Let them go into the villages," etc.(2) That they should be supported out of the resources of the disciples, but that the two hundred pennyworth was beyond their resources.(3) To make the resources go as far as they might. "There is a lad here," etc., and then the difficulty arises, "What are these," etc. Their proper course would have been to leave the perplexity with omnipotence. That they believed in our Lord's omnipotence is certain, but though they knew it as an abstract fact, they could not bring it to bear on the present emergency, and therefore, they threw themselves on that which any faithless man could throw himself upon human power in human distress. The Saviour must have asked the question, "How is it that they have no faith?" This is the way man ever treats God, turning to Him as a last resource only.

3. This is the course the Lord has taken from time to time to make men understand themselves, throwing them into difficulties and leaving them to prove what is in them by their extrication from those difficulties, as seen in the case of Israel at the Red Sea and before Jericho.


1. In the announcement of doctrines offensive to the natural man.(1) That of the divinity of Christ and reason protests against it.(2) That of the atonement and our sense of equity protests against it.(3) That of man's depravity and man's pride recoils.(4) That of man's impotency, and the sense of self-reliance on self resources protests. And when it comes to this, a man is brought to the test, is he willing to put reliance upon Christ? or is he determined to trust in him. self.

2. The infliction of trial. Previous to trial most men, like Peter, think they can go through anything, but when it falls upon us, how our notes are changed! In that way God puts the question, are you able to trust Me?

3. The successes and prosperities of life. Riches, which do not spoil a man's character, they simply bring out the evil that is in him. You shall look abroad upon the face of nature, and possibly you may see in the cold time of winter, and the chill dews of spring, the whole surface of the meadow without anything deleterious produced upon it; and you may look at the same field when the warm and bright sunshine of summer and autumn comes, and you find it swarming with weeds. Why, who hath come and planted the tares amongst the wheat? No one; they have been there all along: only in the nipping cold times of the year they were not able to come out; but when the sun came, that which was lurking below came to the surface. This was how it was with Hazael, and how it has been with many a man since.

(Dean Boyd.)

In the reckoning of men there is always a deficit; in the reckoning of Christ there is always a surplus.


(Children's Sermon): — You know what puzzle questions are; they are questions to make you wonder, and the more you wonder the more interested you become, and the more interested you grow the better you are likely to understand the answer when it comes. But is your teacher ever puzzled? No; he simply asks the question to prove you, to find out how much you know. It was for this purpose that Jesus put the question to Philip, viz., to find out what kind of a scholar he had become.

I. WHAT WAS THE QUESTION? How to meet a difficulty. Philip worked it all out in mental arithmetic, First he made a rough guess as to the number of people. Then he remembered how much a little for each would cost. Then he worked out a sum in proportion. "If it cost so much for one, what will it cost for five thousand?" And the answer was two hundred pennyworth.


1. Because it only told what wouldn't be enough.

2. Because it wasn't a reply to the question that Jesus had asked. Jesus did not say, "How much money is required?" But "How are we to get bread?" If Philip had learned his lessons properly, he would simply have said, "Thou who canst raise the dead, Thou canst create bread." Conclusion:

1. Do not leave Jesus out of your calculations.

2. Look the question carefully, "Whence shall we?" Philip hadn't noticed that; but it makes matters much simpler, for if Jesus is going to help there won't be much difficulty. So Philip did what he could, brought a few loaves and fishes to Jesus. Then Jesus did what He could, blessed what Philip had brought, and the little became enough for the many.

3. Remember the power of that we in —

(1)the government of your temper;

(2)The great question, "What must I do to be saved."

(J. R. Howatt.)

The air is full of projects for the amelioration of the condition of the poor and for arranging the relations of capital and labour. This story will afford help in these, if its suggestions are heeded. The spectacle of the disciples wrestling with their problem is a piteous one, but it is deplorably familiar. Note our Saviour's wisdom. "How many loaves have ye?" A prudent estimate of our resources is the earliest thing in demand.

I. ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF OUR DEPENDENCE ON THE SAME PROVIDENCE OF GOD WILL BE OF THE MOST VALUABLE ASSISTANCE IN TEACHING US THE PRACTICAL WAY IN WHICH TO AID THE POOR. Put away all superciliousness. "The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all." There is no possible philosophy by which an opulent man can prove himself any wiser or better than one who is reduced in income. Many a man has toiled as industriously, and planned as shrewdly, as ever any one of us did; but chances have been against him. Still, we are to remember that this does not prove that we are the better men, nor that he is worse: it only proves that God is sovereign over His creatures. That was a sober counsel for all the ages which Moses gave Israel (see Deuteronomy 8:11-18).

II. MEN WILL COME TO MORE REAL WISDOM AND USEFULNESS IN CARING FOR THE POOR AND THE HUNGRY WHEN THEY ACTUALLY ADMIT THAT SOMETHING MUST BE, AND CAN BE DONE BY THEMSELVES. There is a suggestion of great sense in the witticism of Sydney Smith: "Whenever A sees B in trouble, he is sure to say, with due consideration, that C ought to help him." Much of the most available and valuable human sympathy in this world is wasted in just a blind and suffused wishing that some plan could be made by which every relief could be given at an extraordinary effort. What is wanted is a quiet endeavour to help one man, or one woman, or one child, as the nearest one to our hand. Mass-meetings are valuable; great associations awake zeal and direct it; but individual effort will go farther, and reach the case more swiftly. It is sad to think how societies multiply, while the cry of the lowly and the poor does not grow less. You pass blanketed puppies led by a ribbon, taken out by a hired man for their airing, three avenues from the streets where human beings are shivering, uncovered and hungering in the cold. Now, something might be done when each Christian admits he can do a proper part of it.

III. IT MIGHT BE SAID HERE THAT IT WOULD NOT BE SO DIFFICULT TO FIND FUNDS TO PURCHASE "TWO HUNDRED PENNYWORTH" OF BREAD WITH WHICH TO FEED THE HUNGRY, IF THE RICH WOULD BE INDUSTRIOUS. Useful occupation is the rule for the race: if any man will not work, neither let him eat, but when he has enough to live upon, does that end his service? Might there not be some good when a merchant has gained enough for himself to withdraw upon, if he would just stay in business for a few years longer, devoting the gains of his gifted experience to the Lord? It is the business of a child of God to add to the aggregate wealth of the world by a thrifty productiveness, and then the rich people can take care of God's poor.

IV. MONEY FOR PROCURING FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY WOULD BE FORTHCOMING EASILY, IF CHRISTIANS PRIZED AND PRACTISED ECONOMY IN THE SCRIPTURAL WAY, AND DIVIDED THEIR SAVINGS IN MINISTERING TO OTHERS. All superfluities are mere grace, and ought to be given away unhesitatingly when poorer people are in actual distress. We do not venture to say what our Lord would have remarked to Philip, in his perplexity at not finding out how to procure two hundred pennyworth of bread, if the unsophisticated fisherman had come over from Capernaum with anything like a gold-headed cane in his hand, or with a seal-ring on his finger. The state has assumed the board and clothing of an able-bodied man for twenty years of uselessness in prison, because he tore a jewel out of the ear of a woman who was lavishly wearing four-thousand dollars worth of ornaments upon her own person that day in the street.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

The people took no thought for food. Christ doth it for them. And surely if He so far provided for them that at a sudden motion came out after Him, can we think that He will be wanting to those that seek Him continually, and with full purpose of heart adhere unto Him.

(J. Trapp.)

Our Lord sought to stir up Philip's sympathy. Come, Philip, what shall you and I do? Whence shall we buy bread to give them to eat? I trust that our God has also given us some communion with His dear Son in His love to the souls of men.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ had said, "Give ye them to eat." "To try them" only, as St. John hath it. And upon trial he found them full of dross, as appears by their answer. The disciples were as yet very carnal, and spake as men.

(J. Trapp.)

He knew. He always does know. "Ah," says one, "I am sure I do not know what I shall do." This is sweet comfort: Jesus knows. He always knows all about it. Do not think you can inform Him as to anything. Your heavenly Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him. He knew what He would do. He meant to do something, and He knew what he was going to do. He was not in a hurry; He never is. He does everything calmly and serenely, because He foresees what He will do.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Philip says, "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient," and Andrew says, "Well, no, it is not, but there is a lad here with five barley loaves and two small fishes." I like this brotherly consultation of willing minds. Philip is willing to begin if he has a grand start; he must see at least two hundred penny-worth of bread in hand, and then he is ready to entertain the idea. Andrew, on the other hand, is willing to commence with a small capital; a few loaves and fishes will enable him to start. When saints converse together they help each other, and, perhaps, what the one does not discover the other may.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

God puts us in the midst of a whole apparatus of tests, that those tests may bring to light that which is in us; for it is absolutely true that feelings may be now lurking in us, just as there is fire lurking in the flint stone, which may remain there from the days of creation undetected and undeveloped till the genial steel strikes upon it, and then, when the blow of the steel brings to light the concealed, the long concealed fire, we are amazed to find that in that cold mass there could have lurked a thing that was so vivid and so sparkling. All this is that great teaching, that marvellous discipline of circumstances; for after all, it is not by direct teaching, it is not by explanation that men ever learn to know themselves; it is by the wretched and by the painful instruction of circumstances. Is it not the fact that a man shall discover more of himself in a short illness of perhaps a few days than be has learned of himself from many years' teaching previously?

(Dean Boyd.)

There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes.
I. ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE LOWLY. For the insignificant, the commonplace who make up the greater portion of mankind, there is either no gospel or it is Christ's.

1. For the world of wealth, power, brute violence, sceptical intellect is inflated with its own self-importance. The haughty beauty will scarce deign to glance at the plain neglected girl; the proud aristocrat is patronizing or contumelious to those who are not of his own caste; the conceitedly clever will revel in his power to wound the Inferior capacity. "This multitude that knoweth not the law is accursed," says religious pride. "These persons are not in society," says fashionable pride. "Mankind is composed of 1,000,000,000 mostly fools," says intellectual pride.

2. See how Christ in His every word and action set His face against all this. Despised Galilee was His country; Nazareth His home; the manger His cradle; the Cross His bed of death; women His intimates; infants His proteges; lepers the objects of His compassion; the depraved the recipients of His mercy. This is not only the lesson of love, nor that Be loved as none other had loved, but that He loved those whom none had loved before, the friend of publicans and sinners.

II. NOT LESS COMFORTING IS THE ACCEPTANCE BY CHRIST OF LITTLE THINGS. He instantly made use of the poor lad's barley loaves and fishes. His symbols of the kingdom were a handful of loaves and a grain of mustard seed; the widow's mite receives His commendation; and those whom He will finally accept will be those who have done little deeds of kindness. Lessons:

1. Most of us have only one talent. The world attaches importance to our deficiency, but when God comes He will not ask how great or how small were our endowments but only how we have used them. He who has one talent sometimes makes ten of it; while he who has ten sometimes makes them worse than one. The last may be first and the first last. Was it not so with those whom He chose, "Not many rich," etc., were called.

2. Why then should any of us be ashamed of our earthly insignificance? We have only five barley loaves, etc., which indeed in themselves are useless, but when given to Christ He can make them enough to feed 5,000. Take the one instance of kind words of sympathy and encouragement. What may they not do? What may be left undone if they are unsaid.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

(Children's Sermon): —

I. THE INTEREST A BOY CAN HAVE IN JESUS. He may have heard his parents or acquaintances tell about the Saviour, and, boy-like, he probably made up his mind that, when an opportunity came, he would go where He was, and look and listen. There was evidently something about Jesus that interested little people. We know that He loved them, and if He loved them He would be apt to talk to them in a way to please and do them good. Children always are quick to find out those friendly to them.

II. THE USE JESUS CAN MAKE OF EVEN A BOY. No one in this multitude, it seems, except this lad, brought anything to eat. Whether this was a lunch his parents put up for him, or what he brought along with him to sell, we do not know. The fact that he had the loaves and fishes is mentioned to Christ who considered the fact of some ira. portance. For He called the boy to Him, and then took what he had, and made his few loaves and fishes answer for the wants of all. Nor could any one have been more astonished than the boy himself to see how those loaves and fishes lasted. Christ can use children if they are willing, and sometimes they have been of great service. He can use their gifts, whether they be the pennies which they have earned, or some piece of handiwork they have made. None are too young to serve Jesus, and such have often been employed by Him to accomplish good.

III. IT IS ALWAYS BEST TO KEEP IN GOOD COMPANY. This boy would have missed a great deal if he had not gone out that day to see, Jesus. If he had given himself up to having some fun with his comrades, he would not have been honoured as he was by Christ. If this boy had told his mates that he was going to hear the wonderful Teacher whose fame was filling the whole country, they might have ridiculed him, and tried to persuade him to go with them; but by bravely following out his purpose to see and hear for himself, he not only was gratified therein but was noticed and used by Jesus. I think that proved to be the most noteworthy day in his life. What he heard and what happened to him at that time he could never forget, for it probably influenced him as long as he lived. He may have become a follower of Jesus from that day, and a preacher of the gospel to others when he grew up to be a man. It was the turning point in his history.

(M. G. Dana, D. D.)

Pythias is famous for that he was able, at his own charge, to entertain Xerxes' whole army, consisting of ten hundred thousand men. But he grew so poor upon it that he wanted bread ere he died. Our Saviour fed five thousand, and his store was not a jot diminished.

(J. Trapp.)

S. S. Times.
The mention of barley loaves gives a hint of the social condition of the multitude which followed Jesus. Wheat is the staple grain in the East; but, like other good things, it is apt to be absorbed by the rich. The poorer people have, therefore, to content themselves with the coarser barley, which they grind themselves in their stone hand-mills, and bake into a coarse kind of flat cake. The mention of fishes is characteristic of the region. The sea of Galilee has always been famous for the excellence of its fish supply, which is not only plentiful, but varied. Doubtless many of the crowd who followed Jesus came from among the poor fisher-folk, who were concerned with supplying the wants of the prosperous towns, now in ruins, which, in the time of Jesus, kept up a fleet of small ships on the sea of Galilee.

(S. S. Times.)

of the Jews would seem to have been smaller than those made of wheaten bread, rough to the taste even though nutritious, and the food of only the common people, an emblem of His own doctrine, which the common people heard gladly, and which, however hard to the natural man, is yet full of life for the soul.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

Barley bread was so coarse that even the hearty Roman soldiers were only required to eat it by way of punishment, and fish was the commonest and cheapest kind of food; but so Jesus lived, and His disciples. He was poor among the poorest. Not for Him was the purple and the feast of Dives. He did not come to pamper the luxury or allure the appetencies of idle men. Barley loaves and only two small fishes! But it was enough for the Lord of all; and with that scant, poor food, blessed and multiplied, He fed the hungry, and refreshed the weary, spread the table in the wilderness, and made them sit on the green grass in the sunset, and gave them that which to their hunger was sweet as manna, and sent them rejoicing on their way.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

At a flower festival, not long ago, one little, shrinking child laid on the altar-step her tiny offering — it was but a single daisy. The little one had nothing else to give, and with even such an offering, given in a single and with a simple heart, Christ, I think, would have been well pleased. When Count Zinzendorf was a boy at school, he founded amongst his schoolfellows a little guild which he called the "Order of the Grain of Mustard Seed," and thereafter that seedling grew into the great tree of the Moraviar. Brotherhood whose boughs were a blessing to the world. The widow's miter. When they laughed at Saint Theresa when she wanted to build a great orphanage and had but three shillings to begin with, she answered," "With three shillings Theresa can do nothing; but with God and her three shillings there is nothing which Theresa cannot do." Do not let us imagine, then, that we are too poor, or too stupid, or too ignorant, or too obscure to do any real good in the world wherein God has placed us. Is there a greater work in this day than the work of education? Would you have thought that the chief impulse to that work, whereon we now annually spend so many millions of taxation, was given by a poor illiterate Plymouth cobbler — John Pounds? Has there been a nobler work of mercy in modern days than the purification of prisons? Yet that was done by one whom a great modern writer sneeringly patronised as the "dull, good man John Howard." Is there a grander, nobler enterprise than missions? The mission of England to India was started by a humble, itinerant shoemaker, William Carey. These men brought to Christ their humble efforts, their barley loaves, and in His hand, and under His blessing, they multiplied exceedingly. "We can never hope," you say, "to lead to such vast results." So they thought "We cannot tell whether this or that will prosper." But do you imagine that they ever dreamed that their little efforts would do so much? And, besides, they knew that the results are nothing, the work, everything — nothing the gift, everything the willing heart. But have you ever tried? If you bring no gift, how can God use it? The lad must bring his barley loaves to Christ before the five thousand can be fed. Have you ever attempted to do as he did? Have you, even in the smallest measure, or with the least earnest desire, tried to follow John Wesley's golden advice: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, to all the persons you can, in all the places you can, as long as ever you can."

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

The Church ought to use the young as well as instruct and amuse the young. Young people can be made to do good; they have something they can give up, they have something that when they see Jesus they will allow Jesus to take without a word.

(T. Green, M. A.)

There is really nothing little with God. In His hands the feeblest and simplest instruments are sufficient. If His blessing goes along with Our efforts, there is no limit to the greatness of the work which they may accomplish. Take, e.g., our endeavours to relieve the sorrows and sufferings of our fellow-creatures. What are we in the presence of such calamities? What can we say or do to alleviate the suffering or the sorrow? We are but too likely to shrink back in despair. But let us think of ourselves in such cases as instruments in His hands, with whom all things are possible; let us bring what we have. God can make use of what in itself is useless. Miserable comforters we may seem to ourselves. Yet God may send comfort through us. Or, to take another case; this thought of the greatness of little things, what an encouragement may it afford us in our missionary efforts I But, once more; the principle of which I am speaking may be applied to the work which has to be carried on in our individual souls. God does not make us holy all at once. Nor does He work His will in us solely by His own act. He requires our co-operation; He makes use of our efforts. But our feeble endeavours, our half-hearted prayers, our faintest resolutions — what are they? What can they do? They seem to us nothing; and in truth they are as nothing. But God desires them; He kindly looks on them; He blesses them, and they are effectual through Him. It is by such endeavours, inspired and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, that the saints of God have attained whatever degree of holiness they have reached. We are all tempted, when we reflect on the great work of our lives, namely, the renewing in ourselves of the image of God, to say, "What can I do?" Our best efforts are utterly inadequate; and it is right that we should feel and acknowledge this. But, such as they are, God requires them, as Christ demanded the five loaves; and He can and will bless even our imperfect efforts and work His will with them. Bring what you have, and leave it with perfect confidence in His hands. Let us trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is our strength and our song; He also is become our salvation.

(P. Young, M. A.)

Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place.
S. S. Times., A. Beith, D. D.
The disciples understood their instructions, and immediately arranged the vast throng on the sloping sides of the mountain, in ranks, a hundred in number, each rank containing fifty persons in file. The ranks, as we may easily conceive, were placed at such convenient distances from each other, that the disciples could easily pass between them. In this form the five thousand men were disposed of — the women and children being, in all probability, placed by themselves in some convenient situation. As when He created the wine at Cana, the six waterpots were set in order preparatory to that miracle, so here His request for order was obeyed, preparatory to the work which He was about to do. As the many thousands of Israel, in their encampings and marches were so arranged that all alike enjoyed the full advantage of having the tabernacle, and pillar of cloud, and brazen serpent lifted up full in their view, so now the whole multitude, by the arrangement effected, were placed in a position to enable every man to see and to hear Him who was the True Tabernacle, the True Pillar of Cloud, and the True Brazen Serpent lifted up. He stands at the bottom of that green mountain slope, and the twelve are round about Him. Receding from the place which they occupy, fifty men are seated, each behind, but a little raised above, his companion, in file, and in close order. On the right hand there are fifty ranks thus arranged. On the left hand there are fifty ranks. Jesus stands in the centre, and His eye with ease ranges over the whole company, whilst His voice distinctly reaches them. If we may suppose the sun about to set, the surrounding mountains glowing with his departing rays, the waters of the lake still retaining the lingering reflection of the sun's fading beauty, we have before us a scene such as we may believe Jesus Himself delighted to survey, and such as we may well long to see often recurring in our fallen world — multitudes waiting for the "true bread," and the Lord Himself present to bestow it in rich abundance.

(A. Beith, D. D.)

And Jesus took the loaves and when He had given thanks, He distributed.
I. WHATEVER WE HAVE IS THE GIFT OF GOD: money, talents, time, influence, etc.


III. NO GIFT MUST BE UNDERVALUED BECAUSE IT IS SMALL. What is insignificant to us may be made vastly useful by the blessing of God.


1. Some are starving for want of peace and comfort in religion — neighbours, friends, members of our own families.

2. Some are starving for want of a little kindly sympathy.

3. Some are starving in sickness and pain for the want of loving help and ministry.

V. THIS GIFT MUST BE DISPENSED WITH SELF-FORGETFULNESS. It was this forgetfulness of self that made Henry Lawrence, the gentle, godly hero of the Indian Mutiny, the best beloved of all his soldiers. When he was dying, the General whispered, as his last words, "let there be no fuss about me, bury me with the men." When another hero, Sir Ralph Abercromby, had got his death-wound, in the battle of Aboukir, they placed a private soldier's blanket under his head, thus causing him much relief. He asked what it was. He was answered that "it was only a soldier's blanket!" He insisted on knowing to whom it belonged. They told him it belonged to Duncan Roy, of the 42nd. "Then see that Duncan Roy has his blanket this very night," said the dying man; he would not, to ease his own agony, deprive a common soldier of his comfort.

(H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)


1. Christ is our example in this. He placed Himself voluntarily in a condition of need, and when the need was supplied as here He expressed His gratitude to God.

2. Christ is the object of our thanksgiving. This miracle expresses Christ's continuous power to relieve human want. This is now regularly done and consequently is over-looked. Sometimes He reduces men from affluence to indigence in order to teach them grateful dependence on Himself.

3. This thanksgiving is due to Christ for temporal and spiritual mercies.


1. Here also we are instructed by the example of Christ.

2. In temporal good things we must remember that we are stewards of God's bounty.

3. We must distribute our spiritual goods —


(2)By supporting the ministry, missions, schools, etc.

(S. Robins, M. A.)

This miracle differs from others —

1. In that it is not so open to the cavils of unbelief. The others are often explained on the theory of Christ's superior knowledge and skill. Here this utterly breaks down.

2. The miracles of healing were wrought to draw the minds of men to Christ as Creator; this to show Himself the maintainer of both the natural and spiritual life.


1. Of their bodies. Life can no more maintain itself than create itself.

2. Of their souls, by His Spirit.

II. CHRIST EMPLOYS MEANS IN PRESERVING MEN. He consulted His disciples, He employed bread, He gave bread to the disciples for distribution. So —

1. Physically Christ preserves men by the employment of natural resources utilized by intelligence and industry.

2. Spiritually by means of His Word, public worship and sacraments.

III. CHRIST PRESERVES MEN SEPARATELY. There was a multitude to the disciples, but there was no multitude to Him. He saw each in the singularity of His own Being and need. He who gave the individual life of the millions of our race, maintains it second by second. It is needful to remember this —

1. In order that we may recognize that our individual life is His.

2. That we may recognize His hand in all our gifts.

(1)Of prosperity.

(2)Of adversity.

(Bp. S. Wilberforce.)

I. He multiplied by division, "distributed."

II. He added by subtraction, "filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves."

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

The disciples grudged not of their little to give others some, and it grew on their hands, as the widow's oil did in the cruse. Not getting, but giving, is the way to thrive. Nothing was ever lost by liberality.

(J. Trapp.)

An analogy, and, so to speak, a help to the understanding of this miracle, has been found in that which year by year is accomplished in the field, where a single grain of corn multiplies itself and in the end unfolds in numerous ears. And with this analogy in view many beautiful remarks have been made; as this, that while God's every-day miracles had grown cheap in men's sight by continual repetition, He had therefore reserved something, not more wonderful, but less frequent, to arouse men's minds to a new admiration. Others have urged that here, as in the case of the water made wine, Christ did but compress into a single moment all those processes which in ordinary circumstances, the same Lord of nature, causes more slowly to succeed one another.

(Archbishop Trench.)

He took a fragment of a barley loaf into His hand, and to teach His Church that His grasp had in it the fecundity of the earth, the moisture of the flowers, the influence of the sun, the comprehension of all times and seasons, and the excellency of all power, as He broke it, it enlarged itself far beyond those goodly ears of wheat which Pharaoh saw in his dream, and every crumb became an handful.

(Bp. Hacker.)

The five loaves were almost nonentities, but He nevertheless took them. Jesus appears always to have acted on the same principle. He used what came to hand. What man could do, man must do. As far as Nature could go, Nature must perform her part. He came in where man and nature stopped. See how, at this moment, God is dealing with every one of us. He. has wrought for us a free and perfect salvation, by no merit, by no act of ours. He requires in you repentance and faith. True, they both come from Him, so did "the five loaves," they came from Him. But you must give to Him first a willing and free act of your own. He "takes the loaves"; and then, over and above He feeds your soul and makes it live for ever and ever by the bread of life. You have a little grace. A mere nothing compared to what is wanting; to what it might have been if you had used well what God had given you. But God has given you something. You have some good desires, convictions of sin, power to pray, and to deny yourself, sparkles of love. Do you want this to become more? Then put what you can into Christ's hands constantly and the transforming and magnifying will multiply it. You have some thoughts, feelings, powers, capacities, actions, which you can now in a solemn way give to Jesus. Consecrate them. Do not say, "Oh, I have not got anything worth the giving; it is of no use at all." Give Him the little, and he qill make it much.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Christ did not provide great delicacies for the people, but they who saw His amazing power here were obliged to rest satisfied with barley bread, and fish without sauce.


I. THE PREPARATION FOR THE SIGN "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" Now, notice what a lovely glimpse we get there into the quick rising sympathy of the Master with all forms of human necessity. Before we call He answers. But, farther, He selects for the question Philip, a man who seems to have been what is called — as if it were the highest praise — an "intensely practical person"; who seems to have had little faith in anything that he could not get hold of by his senses, and who lived upon the low level of "common sense." "This He said to prove him." He hoped that the question might have shaped itself in the hearer's mind into a promise, and that he might have been able to say in answer, "Thou canst supply; we need not buy." So Christ does still. He puts problems before us too, to settle; Lakes us, as it were, into His confidence with interrogations that try us, whether we can rise above the level of the material and visible, or whether all our conceptions of possibilities are bounded by these. And sometimes, even though the question at first sight seems to evoke only such a response as it did here, it works more deeply down below afterwards, and we are helped by the very difficulty to rise to a clear faith. Philip's answer is significant. He was a man of figures; he believed in what you could put into tables and statistics. Yes! And, like a great many other people of his sort, he left out one small element in his calculation, and that was Jesus Christ. And so his answer went creeping along the low levels, dragging itself like a half. wounded snake, when it might have risen on the wings of faith up into the empyrean, and soared and sung. So learn that when we have to deal with Christ's working — and when have we not to deal with Christ's working? — perhaps probabilities that can be tabulated are not altogether the best bases upon which to rest our calculations. Learn that the audacity of a faith that expects great things, though there be nothing visible upon which to build, is wiser and more prudent than the creeping common sense that adheres to facts which are shadows, and forgets that the one fact is that we have an Almighty Helper and Friend at our sides. Still further, under these preliminaries, let us point to the exhibition of the inadequate resource which Christ, according to the fuller narrative in the other Evangelists, insisted upon. Christ's preparation for making our poor resources adequate for anything is to drive home into our hearts the consciousness of their insufficiency. We need, first of all, to be brought to this: "All that I have is this wretched little stock; and what is that measured against the work that I have to do and the claims upon me?" Only when we are brought to that can His great power pour itself into us and fill us with rejoicing and overcoming strength. The old mystics used to say, and they said truly: "You must be emptied of yourself before you can be filled by God." And the first thing for any man to learn, in preparation for receiving a mightier power than his own into his opening heart, is so know that all his own strength is utter and absolute weakness. "What are they among so many?" And so the last of the preparations that I will touch upon is that majestic preparation for blessing by obedience. Sit you down where He bids you, and your mouths will not be long empty. Do the things He tells you, and you will get the food that you need.


1. As to the first, there is here, I believe, a revelation of the law of the universe, of Christ as being through all the ages the sustainer of the physical life of men. What was done then once, with the suppression of certain links in the chain, is done always with the introduction of those links. It was Christ's will that made this provision. And I believe that the teaching of Scripture is in accords,nee with the deepest philosophy, that the one cause of all physical phenomena is the will of a present God, howsoever that may usually conform to the ordinary methods of working which people generalize and call laws. The reason why anything is, and the reason why all things change, is the energy there and then of the indwelling God, who is in all His works, and who is the only will and power in the physical world. And I believe, further, that Scripture teaches us that that continuous will, which is the cause of all phenomena and the underlying subsistence on which all things repose, is all managed and mediated by Him who from of old was named the Word; "in whom was life, and without whom was not anything made that was made." Our Christ is Creator, our Christ is Sustainer, our Christ moves the stars and feeds the sparrows.

2. And so, secondly, there is in the sign itself a symbol of Him as the true Bread and food of the world. Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us, and we feed on the sacrifice. Let your conscience, your heart, your desires, your anticipations, your understanding, your will, your whole being, feed on Him. He will be cleansing, He will be love, He will be fruition, He will be hope, He will be truth, He will be righteousness, He will be all.

3. And notice finally here, the result of this miracle as transferred to the region of symbol. "They did all eat, and were filled"; men, women, children, both sexes, all ages, all classes, found the food that they needed in the bread that came from Christ's hands. If any man wants dainties that will tickle the palates of Epicureans, let him go somewhere else. But if he wants bread, to keep the life in and to stay his hunger, let him go to this Christ, who is "human nature's daily food." The world has scoffed for eighteen centuries at the barley bread that the gospel provides; coarse by the side of its confectionery, but it is enough to give life to all who eat it. And more than that; notice the inexhaustible abundance. "They did all eat, and were filled." Other goods and other possessions perish with the using, but this increases with use. The more one eats, the more there is for him to eat. And all the world may live upon it for ever, and there will be more at the end than there was at the beginning.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

What is it, what is it in us, that will ensure this taking of the supplies and bestow them upon us? First of all, what was it in this people?

1. They would not have sat down, you may be very sure, if they had not been very hungry. Desire draws blessing.

2. Confident expectation brings Him with all His supplies. Yes, expectation of blessing fulfils itself in a great many regions, in a great many common things of life. If a man expect to be successful, he will be in a great many of them. It is what you are making up your mind to do you will do. And in the spiritual region the measure of the expectation is the measure of the success. The expectation which has got the essential element of faith in it is the confidence in the things unseen, as though they were present. Expectation, yea, an expectation right in the teeth of sense, is the sure way to bring down the blessings.

3. Well, then there is another last point, and that is: the use of the appropriate means, which are appropriate simply because they are appointed. "Make the men sit down; and Jesus therefore took the loaves." Well, in regard to some things in this world, yes, some outward things, we very often do come to a point where the only thing is to sit still and see the salvation of God; and in a very profound sense they also work, as well as they also serve, who only stand, or sit, and wait. But I think that this generation wants a lesson, and the Christian communities of this generation want the lesson — sit down there and be quiet, and let His grace sink into you, as it won't do with you for ever fuss, fuss, fussing, and moving from this place to the other. Why, if you go into the woods, and into a coppice, the nightingales, and the thrushes, and the whole of the quick-eyed creatures that rustle among the leaves there, shyly hide themselves there as long as your foot is rustling over the leaves; no other living creature will stir. Sit down quietly, don't even move your eyelids, and when you have sat for awhile, still as any stone, one after another they begin to peep out of their copses, and come out into the open, and in an hour's time the whole place will be alive with beauty and with happiness. Yes, and so it is in a loftier fashion in this great kingdom of our Master's. The men that go hurrying through the gospel sphere see nothing of its beauty, nothing of its delicate, recondite beauties and mysteries. You have got to be quiet. And so go ye into a desert place and rest — sit still. That does not mean any vacuous indolence, drowsing and dormant, but it means suppressing the sensuous life, the life of the enemy that belongs to the outer world, in order that the life of the spirit may rise stronger and stronger, for as the eye of the flesh closes, the eye of the spirit opens. They are like the doors in banks, you shove one open and the other shuts. And so to be quiet is to hear Christ speak.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

John 6:1 NIV
John 6:1 NLT
John 6:1 ESV
John 6:1 NASB
John 6:1 KJV

John 6:1 Bible Apps
John 6:1 Parallel
John 6:1 Biblia Paralela
John 6:1 Chinese Bible
John 6:1 French Bible
John 6:1 German Bible

John 6:1 Commentaries

Bible Hub
John 5:47
Top of Page
Top of Page