Feeding the Five Thousand

Bible passage:

  • Luke 9:10-17
  • John 6:5-15
  • Matthew 14:13-21
  • Mark 6:32-44

Background of the Miracle:

  • “Feeding the five thousand” is the only miracle recorded by all four gospels.
  • Disciples came from their mission, they were tired and hungry, did not have time to eat. They needed rest.
  • Jesus had just heard about the death of John the Baptist (Mat 14:13).
  • Jesus wanted him and his disciples to withdraw from the crowd so that they could have some rest.
  • They headed to Bethsaida (Luke 9:10), by boat to discourage crowd from following them. (also check out Jesus healed disable man at Pool of Bethesda)

Bethsaida- Fisherman’s House:

  • Bethsaida means the “Fisherman’s house” (Strong’s concordance), it was also home of Philip, Andrew and Peter.
  • The crowd were following Him, they were already gathered at the place, even before Jesus had arrived.
  • (Note: Bethsaida was a a small city on the western shore of the Lake of Gennesaret, while Bethesda refers to the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, meaning “House of Mercy”).

Mark 6:34 – “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

How do we respond when some one invade our privacy?

  • We often try to avoid people, when we are tired, weary or under stress. Jesus however, welcomed the crowd and had compassion on them. How do we respond when some one comes to us with some need?
  • Jesus demonstrated compassion, first to his disciples and then to the crowd.
  • Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God (for hours). (The Beatitudes – Poor in Spirit – Kingdom of Heaven)
  • Jesus must be an engaging teacher, that the crowd did not disperse even until evening. They were too engrossed in the teaching of Jesus.

“Give them something to eat”:

  • It was getting late, so disciples asked Jesus to let the crowd go.
  • Jesus’ reply was startling – “Give them something to eat.”

What would have been disciples’ response?

  • They would have been shocked by Jesus’ reply. There were about five thousand men, and also women and children. They did not have money to feed them. It would be like eight month’s wages to feed them.
  • The practical solution was to let them go.
  • But Jesus’ way does not always seem practical. (See Judge 6-7: Gideon’s army of 300 men  against 150,000 midianites.)

“What do you have?”

  • Jesus asked them another question, “What do you have, go and see?” (Mark 6:38)
  • They found a boy with five loaves of bread and two fishes.
  • How can a few pieces of loaves and fishes feed about 10,000 people (including women and children)? It is impossible, totally inadequate, but that is all they had.
  • Jesus prepared them for a miracle – All were hungry, he didn’t want chaos, disorder, shoving, or pushing. So he directed them to have all the people sit down in groups. (Our God is the God of order.)
  • Disciples might not have understood, what he was going to do? But they followed his orders nonetheless.
  • Many times, God wants us to act in faith, even when we do not understand it.
  • Jesus offered a prayer of thanksgiving, giving thanks to the Father before the miracle.
  • He then broke the bread and distributed them.
  • It must have taken few hours to feed the whole crowd.
  • They were all fed and satisfied.

Jesus’ final assignment for his disciples:

  • Jesus’ final assignment for his disciples was to, “go and gather broken pieces.” He wanted them to realize that God’s provision is more than adequate. (He later reminded them about this miracle,  in Mark 8:19.)
  • This miracle had a profound impact on disciples, therefore all gospels have an account of it.
  • This was a powerful discipleship lesson for his disciples.

“What do YOU have?”

  • Too often, we are overwhelmed by the need around us. Our resources are limited and inadequate. But we need to bring what we have to Him. He will in turn, bless them and place them into our hands, multiplied, more powerful than we can ever imagine.
  • Jesus is looking for people who are ready to believe and trust Him, who are willing to bring whatever little they have.
  • God’s provision is more than adequate. Are we ready to trust him, believe that, though task may seem immense, Our God is more than sufficient. Are we willing to bring our resources, gifts, talents, time to Him?

What do You have?


Check out our eBook, The Miracles of Jesus Christ – 7-part Bible Study Series on the Healing Miracles of Jesus Christ for Small Groups & Personal Study. 


  1. says

    This is one of the few NT lessons on giving I have. If only the rich youn ruler would have had the same attitude; who knows.

  2. says

    Wow! I didn’t realize this was the only miracle recorded by all four gospels! Thanks for this. I work with needy people every day. Sometimes I think of ways to avoid their problems – but I know I need to engage them. Thanks for this reminder.

  3. Elizabeth says

    I was seeking the Lord about my situation and in my spirit I heard the Lord the feedubg if the five thousand. I have been seeking the answer and I am only just seeing the answer. The word was in my spirit about a month and a half ago. Thank you and may the Lord bless you.

  4. B says

    This is truly an amazing event. There are so many lesson that God teaches in this moment. Love, trust in your faith, follow Jesus in whatever direction he takes you, give your life to God; these are all things that I learned from this lesson.

    I think the study mentions a great example about how to treat people/friends when you are tired or not in the mood. The love you can show someone is the most important thing and the opportunities are given to us on a constant basis.

    The people followed Jesus to a place where they might have starved if they didnt receive food, but because of their faith in the Jesus they received all they needed. Jesus was trying to show 5000 people and the disciples their faith in him in the ultimate power.

    When Jesus told the disciples to go and pick up the broken pieces; just shows that the Lord will always take care of you and some, if you have faith in his workings. The hardest think for people to do his hold strong in their faith when faced with adversity, but just like in this situation, no matter how unlikely it might seem; if you hold strong in your faith the Lord with be their for you.

  5. Rev. Sherman Stenson says

    Nicely structured study! I would suggest a small correction, though: “Bethesda” more rightly means “house of mercy,” not “Fisherman’s house.” This makes the name of the place actually tie in better with that material which follows: Jesus having compassion on the crowds and showing His mercy by healing and teaching them. Blessings!

  6. Rev. Sherman Stenson says

    Just realized when I looked again: Your citation should read John 6, also… not John 8.

  7. John Edmonson says

    Just an FYI. The scripture reference at the top for the Gospel of John should be John 6: 1-14.


    This is amazing. I had not had such a revelation. i have read this one many times but i had not understand it form this angle,jesus was tied, disciples too, but people were eager and in deep need . To the comon man at such a point he would have gone to sleep and instruct the alert tom tell anyone in need of him that he was miles away or to come after two or three days or even be rude.
    God bless you .I wish i had subscribed this long before.

  9. Dave Walton says

    Thanks for the lesson. I hadn’t though of the crowd control and how
    God is a God of order. Well put.

    Sherman Stenson points out that Bethesda means “house of mercy”. That was in the 3rd sign listed in John. The town here is Bethsaida, and you are correct in what it means.

    God bless and typos happen to the best of us.

  10. Amit Christian says


    Thanks for pointing out the typos and the difference between Bethesaida and Bethesda. I have updated it in the study.

    Thanks Again.


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