JESUS FEEDS THE MULTITUDE
Scripture: John 6:1–15, 24–27, 35
Memory verse: John 6:35
"Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life.' "
Divide the students into three groups. Ask them how many kilo of rice would be needed to feed 5,000 men plus women and children. How many tomatoes and onions would be needed? Assign one ingredient to each group. Help each individual group determine the amounts needed. Then appoint a student from each group to report his group’s findings to the rest of the class.
Tell the students to imagine they had to feed a crowd that size. However, all they had in their house was one kilo of rice, three tomatoes and one onion. Ask them how they would feel. Tell them this feast would require a miracle.
Review the meaning of the word miracle. Refer to Lessons 4 and 7. Remind the students that a miracle takes place when God changes a natural law.
Let volunteers give examples of modern-day miracles. (Have a few on hand from Christian publications or reports to share.) Review the main purpose of miracles—to bring glory to God. When miracles happen today, they still bring glory to God just as in Jesus’ day.
Explain that in this week’s study the students will learn how Jesus used a miracle to teach a crowd of people (and us) an important truth about how He cares for our needs.
Hearing God’s Word
When Jesus was on earth, He became well known because of His miracles. People followed Him wherever He went. They took their sick friends and family members to Jesus for healing. Jesus always took the time to meet the people’s needs. He never turned the crowds away.
Crowds Follow Jesus
As Jesus travelled with His disciples, crowds would gather around Him. Jesus took these opportunities to perform miracles and teach important lessons to His disciples and the crowds. The people knew Jesus was no ordinary man from Galilee. He was someone special.
The people knew Jesus was unique, but many still did not understand who Jesus really was. They couldn’t comprehend that He was God. Even the disciples had problems in this area.
In spite of the miracles Jesus’ disciples had seen Him perform, they still had trouble trusting Him when any new problem arose. An event recorded in John 6 is an example of this.
Jesus Recognizes a Need
Jesus and His disciples had just gone up onto a mountainside. As Jesus looked across the horizon, He saw a large crowd coming toward Him. This prompted Jesus to ask Philip a question, which caught Philip off guard.
What was the question? (Ask a student to read John 6:5, 6.)
Ask: “Why did Jesus ask Philip how to feed the multitude when He already knew what He would do?” (Allow responses.) Point out that Jesus wanted His followers to put their faith into action. Refer again to Lesson 4, “Jesus’ First Miracle,” where Mary put her faith into action as an example.
Philip Expresses Doubt
Even though Jesus knew how He would feed this huge crowd, He asked Philip for suggestions.
Ask: “How did Philip respond?” (Ask a student to read John 6:7. Encourage the students to express their reactions to Philip’s answer.)
Ask: “What would you have said if Jesus had asked you the same question?” (Allow responses.)
Imagine yourself as one of the disciples as you see this tremendous crowd of people. How many people were there? (Let them look in their Bibles for the answer: 5,000 men, not counting women and children.) How could they possibly feed all those people?
Most of us probably would have said about the same thing as Philip: Impossible! In fact, Philip even illustrated how impossible he thought the situation was by saying that not even eight month’s wages could feed all the people who were there.
Andrew Offers some Hope
Andrew was not quite as gloomy as Philip; at least he offered a little hope. He presented to Jesus five loaves made of barley and two small fish—one boy’s lunch!
But Andrew did not show much faith either. He did not think the boy’s lunch would do much good. He asked Jesus, “But how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9).
Jesus Multiplies the Food
Then the miracle happened. Jesus took the boy’s lunch, blessed it, and began to distribute the food to the disciples. The disciples in turn gave the food to the people. The food multiplied until everyone ate and was full. In fact, there were 12 baskets of food left over! What power Jesus displayed!
Jesus Rejects an Earthly Kingship
(Ask a student to read John 6:15). This miracle caused excitement. This verse says Jesus could tell the people wanted to take Him by force and make Him their king! (Allow discussion.)
Jesus did not let the people make Him king because He had not come to earth to be an earthly king. His kingdom is a heavenly kingdom, not an earthly one. The people wanted to make Him king because He had fed them, but Jesus wanted to do more than feed their physical bodies. He wanted to give them spiritual life. So He had to fulfil His mission of dying on the cross for everyone’s sin.
So Jesus left. The Bible says He “withdrew again to a mountain.” Crowds continued to follow Him. Jesus knew the people did not understand His purpose on earth. They did not see Him as a source of spiritual life. They saw Him only as a source to meet their physical needs. They viewed His power in a limited way.
Jesus—the Source of Spiritual Food
(Ask a student to read John 6:26–27.) Jesus was using what we call a metaphor—calling one thing something else in order to make a clear comparison. (You might wish to read the dictionary definition at this point.)
When Jesus said we should work “for food that endures to eternal life,” He was comparing real food, which is digested or spoils after a few days, to His own teachings, which will endure forever.
Bread is another metaphor used in the Bible. Jesus called himself the Bread of Life. (Ask a student to read John 6:35). Our memory verse this study includes Jesus’ words about Himself.
Ask: “What do you think Jesus meant when He said this?” (Allow responses.)
It refers to spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst. Jesus was saying that if we come to Him, He will watch over us and care for us. He will provide for much more than our physical needs. He will be our Saviour and Lord. He will provide life and strength to our souls just as bread provides strength to our bodies.
Jesus Will Meet Our Needs
Jesus cares about our physical needs. However, we should work hardest for eternal things, not the things in this life that will pass away. We should look to Jesus for that “food that endures to eternal life.” Jesus wanted to meet all the crowd’s needs. He wants to meet all our needs too—physical and spiritual.
Accepting God’s Word
Tell the students that hunger and thirst are physical needs. Explain that they are also spiritual needs. We have a soul which hungers and thirsts for God. Our soul is the part of us that will live forever after our bodies die.
Jesus is the Bread of Life. Only He can satisfy the hunger in our soul. Explain that the first step toward receiving spiritual food is to ask Jesus to be our Saviour and Lord. Then pray with each who expresses a desire for salvation.
Explain that just as we need physical food every day to be healthy, we need spiritual food every day to become strong Christians. We get spiritually fed each day by reading the Bible and talking to God in prayer. We also get spiritually fed when we come to church. Encourage the new converts to share with someone this week how Jesus has satisfied their spiritual hunger.
Returning to St. Louis, Senegal, I reflected on my visit among the Pulaar. A few things stood out:
1. They are not a closed society, enjoying celebrating and drinking tea with friends;
2. A water source that draws nomadic Pulaar, Moukh Moukh is a great place for regular, ongoing contact with both men and women;
3. Opening a tea shop in the village would be a friendly setting in which to share the gospel.
Fulbe Jeeri Prayer
Today, Lord, I approach your throne of grace and present to you the Fulbe Jeeri people. I come with confidence and know You will hear and answer prayer. This is Your promise in 1 John 3:21-22: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”
I ask for messengers to listen to the call of Your Spirit, to see the spiritual need of the Fulbe Jeeri, to be moved with compassion for these beautiful people who need to know Jesus as their Saviour in order to make heaven their eternal home.
You are already among the Fulbe Jeeri, preparing their minds and hearts to receive the good news of the Kingdom just as you prepared Cornelius in Acts 10. May the messenger find the Fulbe Jeeri Cornelius and clearly present the gospel to him.* May that encounter result in another Fulbe Jeeri receiving the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Thank you for a move of God among the Fulbe Jeeri! Amen and amen!
Remember: JESUS FEEDS THE MULTITUDE
Memory verse: John 6:35
"Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life.' "
1. Hundreds in my tribe need to be saved.
2. Jesus has provided salvation for all of them.
3. I will distribute the message of salvation to them.
Pray for messengers to find a Fulbe Jeeri Cornelius.
Study 10 | Will of God / Jesus is Lord | africaatts.org/go-teach