Feeding of the 5000 : Meaning and What You Can Learn From It

There is a story in the Bible referred to as the “feeding of the 5000” or “feeding of the multitude” as some have called it. It’s considered one of Jesus’ most prominent miracles reported during biblical times.

This miraculous event is also known as the miracle of five loaves and two fish because the Gospel of John teaches us that Jesus used five loaves of bread and two fish to feed a large number of people.

In this article, we’re going to look at this incredible miracle from the Bible to try to understand what it means, why it happened, and how we can use this information in our daily lives.

What Is the Feeding of the 5000?

“Late in the afternoon the twelve apostles came to Jesus and said, ‘Send the crowd to the villages and farms around here. They need to find a place to stay and something to eat. There is nothing in this place. It is like a desert!’

Jesus answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’

But they replied, ‘We have only five small loaves of bread and two fish. If we are going to feed all these people, we will have to go and buy food.’ There were about five thousand men in the crowd.

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Have the people sit in groups of fifty.’ They did this, and all the people sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up toward heaven and blessed the food. Then he broke the bread and fish and handed them to his disciples to give to the people.

Everyone ate all they wanted. What was left over filled twelve baskets.”

– Luke 9:12-17

While the apostles were concerned with going to buy food to feed all of the people, Jesus wanted to teach them that he was enough. Jesus told them to sit in smaller groups and he took the food, looked up to heaven, blessed the food, broke it apart, and ended up with enough to fill 12 baskets.

Everyone ate, they were all satisfied, and there was plenty left over as well. This particular miracle, like many in the Bible, is Jesus demonstrating to the people that He is what they really need. He is the one they have been waiting for – the Messiah.

Why Is the Feeding of the 5000 Important?

Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

– John 6:26-29

There are many instances throughout the Bible where Jesus performs miracles to reveal Himself as the Son of God. This is what makes the feeding of the 5000 so important. In this scripture above, Jesus says “you seek me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” 

He’s saying that we’re not seeking Jesus because we love Him and we worship Him, we’re seeking Him because we need something. As human beings, we all do this. We always turn to God when we need something but we should also be turning to God when we are satisfied.

The scripture then goes on to say, “do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life.” 

Jesus is telling us to stray away from instant gratification and things that might make us happy in the short-term because all that matters is our everlasting life in heaven with God. Everything we do in our daily lives should be focused on the eternal and in turn, glorify God.

The feeding of the 5000 has many different meanings. As is the case with much of scripture, it can be interpreted differently based on what you’re currently going through in your own life.

It’s important to recognize that though Jesus clearly revealed Himself to those He interacted with, there were still many who did not believe He was the Son of God. The same is true for us today.

We need to look around to find instances where God shows Himself. We might think he is distant, but He does reveal His presence. Much of the time we get so caught up in the little things of life that we forget to notice God’s work, but it’s always there.

What Is the Meaning of Jesus Feeding the 5000?

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

– John 6:35

What a powerful verse from the Bible. Jesus is the bread of life and anyone who comes to Him shall never hunger, those who believe shall never thirst. When we hear this and try to compare it to the feeding of the 5000, the meaning and purpose behind this story really start to become clear.

Jesus was coming directly out to prove that he was the Messiah. Even though the disciples were unsure about how they would have enough food to feed everyone, Jesus said, no need to worry, I will take care of it.

Does Jesus do this in our lives today? 

How many times have you worried and worried about something for days, weeks, or even months? After you’ve worried yourself sick, you come to realize that what you worried so much about didn’t even matter in the end. We do this all the time and there’s one primary reason for it.

It’s because we’re attempting to take matters into our own hands instead of trusting in God’s mercy. Jesus says that He is the bread of life and anyone who comes to Him will not hunger.

How many times have we worried about how we would put food on the table or how we would pay our bills? We all have found something to worry about at one point or another. Instead of trusting in God to provide, we put matters into our own hands. Despite our lack of faith, we always end up coming out on the other side, showing that God does indeed provide.

The true meaning of the feeding of the 5000 is that God will always provide for us. He will never let us down as long as we believe Him and follow His path. The path of Jesus is always clear. We may stumble and fall at times but no matter what, He will pick us back up, dust us off, and get us back on the path we belong on.

Lessons from Jesus Feeding the 5000

So, if we had to walk away with a lesson from this miracle, what would that be?

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

– Matthew 6:31-32

Do not be anxious, do not worry, and do not concern yourself with the things of this world. God knows what we need and He will always provide. No matter what you’re going through, try not to let worry consume you. Jesus wants to take that weight off your shoulders.

Physically grab your shoulders and imagine pulling the weight off and handing it to God. The situation is no longer in your hands, it’s in the hands of God. He will provide just like he did in the feeding of the 5000.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

– Phillippians 4:19

We see many cases in the Bible where God was called upon to provide, and He did. Why do we have such a hard time calling upon Him during our time of need?

Maybe we feel that we’ve called upon deaf ears too many times? Have you faced situations where you really needed help and you asked God, only to seemingly receive nothing in return?

We’ve all been in this situation but it’s at that very moment that we need to continue to praise God because He has still given us the answer. It might not have been the answer we wanted, but God is still caring for us.

He’s telling us that we’re okay, even if His answer isn’t what we had in mind. The verse above from Philippians doesn’t say, “God will give us whatever we want.” It says, “God will supply every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God will provide us with everything we need.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

– James 4:1-2

Finally, if you are sitting there wondering if you can get out of this vicious cycle of want and worry, the feeding of the 5000 puts things into perspective. While the apostles were trying to figure out a way they could feed all of the people, Jesus was calmly standing by with their solution. All they had to do was ask Him for help.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

– Matthew 7:7

God tells us, whatever it is we don’t have, it’s because we haven’t asked for it. In the same way, whatever it is you seek in this life, take it to the Lord. He is the answer and He will always provide.

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