This is the traditional site. Can you imagine? 5000 men sitting on the hillside listening to Jesus teach about the New Kingdom, the New Covenant. They came from miles around to see this Jesus miracle worker. He healed. His legend must have reached the neighborhoods and villages as every encounter was something new, something miraculous. Everyone wanted to see the next scene Jesus was re-creating.
The Bible records 5000 people in John 6, but traditions teach that there were probably thousands more, as women weren't counted in the census of the day. 5000 men followed, but the curiosity certainly wasn't limited to one gender over another. Maybe there were more like 7-8000 people sitting here for one of the greatest sermons of all time.
At the end of His teaching He looked at Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do." (v.5-6) Interesting.
It was a set up.
Jesus was setting up the disciples as He tested them to see if they were ready to experience th power of the New Kingdom. A Kingdom that will provide for physical needs, but also usher in a spiritual satisfaction they were all longing for.
The Bible records, "Jesus said,
"Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place,
and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus
then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were
seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish." (v. 10-11)
The lesson would come later, but the experience must have been mind bending. For out of 5 loaves and two fish Jesus multiplied the food to feed the one's that searched for the meaning of His teaching style. Can you imagine?
It's another example of the beauty Jesus continued in His own life's narrative on earth. If you're hungry, Jesus provides.
We know that He doesn't provide physical food to ALL that decide to seek His face, but what we do know is that He does provide the food necessary for the soul. The New Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is one that provides.
I'm encouraged this morning, that I serve a God that can exist outside the natural. He can take what we see and calculate as the end of the road, but He's interested in changing our focus. He's the quintessential teacher, and sometimes all we have to do is listen intently.
Be encouraged today. For if you decide to become a Jesus follower, miraculous events are waiting around the corner of the natural world. I'm thankful we serve a God not bound by our own sense of reality.