Why study the miracles of Jesus? What Jesus did, He is still doing!
When faced with a need or challenge in life, do you immediately remember what Jesus has done in your life and rush to faith or do you forget those things and rush to panic?
(We would like to thank Pastor Rick Renner for his insight into the Greek language and historical information. A great portion of this message series comes from his message series, The Miracles of Jesus Christ and the accompanying study guide.)
With five loaves and two fish, He fed thousands of people from a child’s sack lunch, demonstrating His dynamic ability to take what seems insignificant and turn it into something extraordinary.
A Great Multitude Followed Jesus
Jesus had performed many miracles and supernatural signs — especially in and around the city of Capernaum. With each passing day, the crowds that followed Him grew greater and greater.
John 6:1-2 NKJV (1) After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. (2) Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.
Notice it says a “great multitude” followed Him. This is the Greek phrase polus ochlos, and it means a multitude; enormous; massive in size. Up until that moment, this was the largest crowd that had ever “followed” Jesus, and the Greek tense for “followed” indicates that they kept following and following and following Him. Why were they following Him so persistently? Verse 2 says, “…Because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.”
The word “miracles” is the Greek word semeion, which describes miraculous events, and the word “performed” is the Greek word poieo, which means to do; to make; or to create. It is where we get the word “poet,” and it always carries the idea of creativity or creative action.
Jesus wasn’t just doing simple miracles like healing headaches or minor illnesses. The use of the word poieo indicates that He had a creative flair to His healing ministry. That is, He created eyes where there were no eyes, arms where there were no arms, and feet where there were no feet.
He healed those who were “diseased,” which is the Greek word astheneo, and it generally describes a person frail in health. It pictures those who were feeble, fragile, faint, incapacitated, or disabled. Jesus was supplying creative and supernatural solutions to unbearable situations like these.
He Saw That the People Were Hungry
Like countless other miracles, the miracle of the loaves and fishes happened near the city of Capernaum.
John 6:3-4 NKJV (3) And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. (4) Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.
Large crowds of people were traveling with Jesus on the Via Maris — “the way of the sea.” And as they were heading to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, Jesus and His disciples departed from the road and found a place to sit and rest after many days of intense ministry.
John 6:5 NKJV (5) Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
Jesus gazed intently at the people as if He were watching a dramatic presentation. He knew they had to be hungry after the long trip, so He “…saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Of course, this was a silly question to ask, and Jesus knew it. They were on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere with no markets around for miles.
John 6:6 NKJV (6) But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
Jesus knew what He was about to do, but He said this to “prove” Philip. The word “prove” is the Greek word peiradzo, which is a test designed to reveal a deficiency.
Think about it. The disciples had seen with their own eyes the mighty miracles of Jesus, including the wonders of Him walking on water, turning water into wine, and casting out devils. What they had not seen up to this point was a miraculous multiplication of food. They had a deficiency in their understanding of Jesus in this area. You would think that in light of all they had seen, they would believe that Jesus would come through just as He had done so many times previously. But they didn’t. Instead of rushing to faith, they rushed to doubt and began to panic.
Sometimes Jesus will “prove” us to point out a deficiency of faith in us.
Five Loaves and Two Fish Were All That Could Be Found
John 6:7 NKJV (7) Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
“Two hundred pennyworth” equals 200 denarii or 200 days’ worth of salary. The common wage in those days was one denarius for one day of work. Philip said, “Even if we could gather 200 days of salary in this moment and buy bread, it wouldn’t be enough for everyone to have a little.” The word “little” is the Greek word brachus, which describes something very small; a fragment. Two hundred denarii of bread wouldn’t have given each person a fragment.
John 6:8-9 NKJV (8) One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, (9) “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
It’s interesting to note that the word “lad” is the Greek word paidarion, and it describes a very young boy, probably under the age of seven. This boy had brought a lunch of five barley loaves and two small fishes.
Interestingly, the Greek term for “barley loaves” is artous krithinous, and it describes a fragile and inferior bread; a barley cracker. And the phrase “small fishes,” is the Greek word opsarion, and it describes a small fish about the size of a sardine or minnow, usually pickled or cooked. Thus, this little boy had five barely crackers and two minnows. Why? This makes sense because he wouldn’t have needed five large loaves of bread and two regular-sized fish; it would have been too much for him to eat.
There the lad stood — just about ready to reach into his pocket and pull out his little lunch that his mom had probably packed. Suddenly, one of Jesus’ disciples showed up and said, “Wait! Don’t eat that. Jesus needs your food.” Hurriedly, the boy was rushed in front of Jesus, and he placed his five barley crackers and two minnows into His hands.
The Miracle of Multiplication
John 6:10 NKJV (10) Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
Luke 9:14-15 NKJV (14) For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty. (15) And they did so, and made them all sit down.
Sometimes you have to organize your situation before you can receive your miracle.
Interestingly, the word “men” in the Greek can describe men and women or just men. If the five thousand refers to men and women, there were 5,000 in attendance. However, if it refers to men only — as many scholars suggest — we would need to add to this number the wives, children, and possibly grandparents who would have been traveling to Jerusalem with them. It’s estimated that as many as 40,000 people were gathered with Jesus at that time.
Yet whether it was 5,000 or 40,000, five barley crackers and two minnows weren’t going to feed the crowd — regardless of how small the pieces were cut. Needless to say, the disciples saw lack in this situation, but Jesus saw opportunity — a chance to once again prove His miraculous power to His disciples and all those gathered.
John 6:11 NKJV (11) And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
This tells us that Jesus will take anything we place in His hands and use it for His glory. Once the crackers and minnows were in His grasp, it says He had “given thanks.” This is the Greek word eucharisteo, which describes a free-flowing stream of thankfulness; gratitude.
As gratefulness was flowing, Jesus began worshiping the Father as the great Provider. In that moment, something miraculous began to happen in His hands. As He “distributed” the barley crackers and fish, which in the Greek means to divide or sever, the food multiplied in His hands! The disciples kept coming and coming, and Jesus kept giving and giving — worshiping the Father all the while.
John 6:12 NKJV (12) So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”
The Greek tense actually means, “When they were double filled.” In other words, they ate until they were completely filled! The people kept eating and eating and eating until they could eat no more.
John 6:13-14 NKJV (13) Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. (14) Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Can you imagine the range of emotions the disciples experienced? They went from fearful panic in the beginning to shock and utter amazement at the end, having 12 basketfuls left over. How about the little boy? He knew the minuscule amount Jesus had to work with because he had given it to Him. If he had hidden his crackers and fishes or eaten them to satisfy just his own hunger, he would have completely missed out on this amazing miracle at the hands of the Master.
When we face a challenge as the disciples did with the limit of food to feed so many, do we rush to faith or believing somehow God will come through or do we forget what Jesus has done in our lives as the disciples did?
This lesson shows us that when we place something in the hands of Jesus, whether it is time, resources, or our lives, it gets multiplied while in His hands.