Imagine the tabloids if Jesus had come in our generation! Every magazine at the check-out line would have something to say about Him. Every newsfeed you follow online would be highlighting the most up-to-date observations. I mean, sure there are people today who claim to be able to heal and cast out devils and all that, but those claims are usually put to rest, and actual eye witnesses are scarce. Imagine thousands of eye-witnesses spreading the word about the miracles of Jesus.
Well, in Jesus' day, word had its way of getting around, too. Everyone who had seen His miracles in Jerusalem, while visiting the temple, went back to their home town and told all their friends and neighbors. Word was spreading about the man who turned water into wine, the man who healed the sick and crippled with his very words...not to mention the man who turned the tables and cleared the thieves out of the temple with a whip, and the man who boldly preached against the spiritual leaders of the day. Thousands dropped everything to go find and follow this "Man." Was He the promised Messiah? The divine King of the Jews?
How Do You Handle Popularity? (V. 3)
Have you ever known a "nobody," who became a "somebody?" All of a sudden they change. It's like they don't even know you anymore because they are so caught up in their own popularity. Well, there are two things Jesus never sacrificed in the midst of His popularity from which we could learn a lot.
First of all, He never sacrificed His personal time with the Lord. We won't take time to point out all the places where we read about Jesus praying, or departing up into a mountain to be alone with God, but He most certainly led a great example in this way. May we never be too busy to get alone with God! The fact is, we cannot properly handle a busy schedule, fame, fortune, or any trial in our life without continually seeking God's face. This comes by praying, studying His word, and listening for His voice. Failing to do this will guarantee a huge failure in our life.
Secondly, Jesus never sacrificed His time with His friends. More specifically, these "friends" were the ones who had left all and followed Him. These weren't guys that Jesus necessarily grew up with. They weren't really family...I guess you could say they were "church family." Jesus had made a commitment to lead these men and train them for a great work they would endeavor to perform when He was gone. We all should be surrounded by people we can lead, whether it is our wife and children, our Sunday school class...these should be our "friends," and we should always make time for them, no matter how busy our schedule gets or how popular we become.
The fact is, as we will see in the next lesson, Jesus was running from the popularity. He had a purpose in this life that the people didn't understand. He had to die on the cross, but the people wanted to make Him their king. The truth about fame and popularity is that it means nothing if it is not the will of God. Only follow what God's will is for your life. If you don't know, beg Him to show you!
What Do You Do When The Situation Is Out Of Your Control?
About everybody is familiar with what happened next. The "feeding of the five-thousand" is among the most well-known events of the Bible (though many do not realize that there was also another instance where He fed four-thousand Matthew 16:9,10, nor do many realize that these numbers only included men. There were women and children present as well who were not counted in this number Matthew 14:21). So, we won't go into great detail here but to point out the three personalities in this story:
Phillip - When the people became hungry, Jesus tested Phillip who apparently had something to do with the finances. "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" He asked. Phillip was quick to figure out how much money was needed so that everyone might be able to get a little to eat. It was impossible! Even if they had the money, where would they buy the bread?
There is nothing wrong with being the person who "crunches the numbers" and tries to figure things out, but we must realize that there are things we can never figure out. There are things that we must give entirely to Jesus.
Andrew - Apparently Andrew took action and began looking for what they had to work with. He found a young boy with a lunch, but obviously this wouldn't be enough. There is nothing wrong with taking action, but we must realize there are things we simply do not have the power to control. We must take our problems entirely to Jesus to solve.
The young boy - We know practically nothing about this young boy, but we know he parted with his lunch. This is what we must all be willing to do. Give everything we have to the Lord. He doesn't need it! But when we give it to Him, He is pleased. He blesses it, and He uses it.
What The Miracle Is Really About:
Above, we dealt with some practical application to this story, but you might ask "What was the real reason for Jesus performing this miracle." I believe each of the seven miracles recorded in John had a very particular, spiritual application. Unfortunately, the people missed it each time, but years later, after Jesus had ascended to the Father and Holy Spirit had come to dwell in the hearts of Believers, the disciples understood these things, and the Spirit guided them in recording them accurately for a purpose.
This miracle is no doubt explained a bit further at the end of this chapter. The people are only following Jesus because of what He can do for them physically. They follow Him because He filled them with bread. But Jesus says in 6:35, "I am the Bread of life..." You see, what the people really needed, and what we all need today, is to be filled spiritually with the bread that only Jesus can give through his Word and through His Spirit.
Only Jesus can provide this bread. But when He gives it to us, He gives us a job of passing it out to the multitudes. Tell them, "The Master says take all you want. Don't be stingy! He's not going to run out!" Tell the world about Jesus and how He is the answer for all their needs. Keep learning the Bible and keep sharing its truths with others!