Jesus Feeds the 5000

Lesson Set


I originally wrote these lessons as part of a four week unit that includes using my Five Loaves ~ 2 Fishes CD -the interactive lesson-game I created about Jesus Feeding of the 5000 at Bethsaida.

 

You are welcome to cherry pick any of these workshop lessons for your own non-commercial use. However, I wrote these lessons to GO TOGETHER. They share a theme and progression.

 

An updated version of these lessons may be found here at Sunday Software's website.


Overview of the Four Workshops in this set:

  1. Computer Workshop: Use 5 Loaves ~ 2 Fishes CD
  2. Video Workshop: Use Nest's Bread of Heaven DVD
  3. Drama Workshop: "The Day After" skits
  4. Bible Skills & Game Workshop: Bread & Fish Olympics, Comparing the Gospels.


Scripture Reference:
Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:1-15 (John's version is emphasised in three of the following workshops).

Bible Background Notes and my Comparison of the four Gospel accounts can be found at the end of my Teacher's Guide for the 5 Loaves CD located at www.sundaysoftware.com/5000/guide.htm. I've also posted a version of it here in at the end of this thread.

The meaning of this story, in brief.
As discussed in the CD's guide and Bible Background in this thread, the story of the Feeding of the 5000 is NOT primarily a story about "sharing what you have." Rather, Jesus uses the opportunity to SHARE WHO HE IS with the crowd and his disciples, --that he is The One sent by God to save the people.

The life application question, then, is this: "if you believe, what do you do next?" The drama workshop below especially digs into this with its "Day After" skits.

Suffice to say, the four accounts largely agree, all though, notably only John has the small boy offering his food. Thus, his presence in the miracle should not be so overstated as to shadow the centrality of the miracle as a sign pointing to Jesus's identity and mission. In the Bible Skills and Games Workshop, the children will compare the versions.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Children will understand that Jesus is The One sent by God. He is the Savior, and he waits for their faithful response.
  • Children will understand that they must learn from Jesus in order to know him and get close.
  • Children will see the story as an example of Jesus' compassion for the people and desire to multiply our gifts to help those in need.

A lesson set from Neil MacQueen

 

I hope you enjoy my lessons for this story, and I would EXPECT you to adapt and improve them! Your comments and adaptions are welcome via reply in this thread.

Original Post

Jesus Feeds the 5000

Bible Skills & Game Workshop

 

Summary of Lesson Activities:

In this particular Bible Skills and Games Workshop lesson, I incorporate both the Bible study, along with skills, and reflection in the game stations.

You'll create various "Game Stations" for teams to go and accomplish certain tasks before moving on. Some stations require/teach Bible Skills, and will cover basic content in the Feeding of the 5000 story.

 

Scripture Reference:

John 5


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Become familiar with the games. 
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • Prizes
  • Verse Pages
  • Fishing pole with magnet
  • Question cards with magnets
  • Bibles
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Large Sponges
  • Large Basket


 

Presentation

 

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet the children and introduce yourself.

 

Open with a prayer.

 

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

You can have 2 or more students per team. Be careful that certain students don't dominate the activity. At the end of these "Olympics" you will draw everyone together for final Bible study and reflection.

Divide into teams and then go over the instructions. Prizes will be at your discretion, but certainly giving candies is not ungodly! At the end of the games, MULTIPLY all the candies just as Jesus did.... piling together the prizes and then demonstrably ADDING your own stash of candy to their pile. Make sure there is "candy left over" for them to give to their parents.

Assign helper/referees to each station. Give each referee a scorecard to write down each team's score. Compile scores when all teams have finished so nobody knows which team is really winning. Adapt the stations for your class sizes and needs. TEAMS ROTATE BETWEEN STATIONS until all have completed.

You can have teams rotate together one station at a time, or split up the teams to different stations. Depends on your size and setup.

Game Station One: Bible Story Shuffle ==ALL TEAMS BEGIN HERE--

Prepare ahead of time a set of Feeding of the 5000 "Verse Pages" using the following verse sections from John 6. Give each team a set of these verses, and explain the game. Instructions: After hearing the teacher read the scripture, when you say "go", they turn over their verse sets and assemble the story in the correct order. Have a helper (who knows the correct order) announce when the team has put them in the right order. Award 50 points for 1st place, 30 for 2nd Place, 15 for 3rd Place, and 10 for 4th.

Now have them turn their pages upside down and shuffle them. Read the story again and time them again for more points.

The Bible Passage for this station's activity:

John 5: 6 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 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.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Game Station Two: The Fishin' Game

Teams use a fishing pole that has a magnet on the end of the line. They cast into a pond to retrieve discussion questions that have both a point value just for 'catching' the question, plus 10 bonus points for answering the question correctly (to the satisfaction of the teacher). Each team can only make 5 casts, so you'll need about 10 possible questions to cast for. Tape a small piece of metal to fish shaped paper that have questions written on them. Spread the questions from each other so that they only "catch" one when retrieving their magnet lure.

Here are four starter questions, add three more of your own, and label three others as "super bonus point" fish that don't require an answer because they have no question! (A "Grace" fish)

20 pts: It's not like they were going to starve! What was Jesus trying to show people that day?

20 pts: The people had been listening to Jesus all day. What does that tell you about Jesus?

20 pts: After the people left that day filled up, what do you think they went home and told others about Jesus?

20 pts: If you had been that small boy, what would you have wanted to do after that day to follow Jesus?

Game Station Three: Read and Compare All Four Gospels

Students will write Down as many differences or unique things found in the Gospel as they can find. Suggest they divide up the Bibles, open to all four Gospels, and have someone read Matthew aloud. Stop at the end of each verse to see if the other Gospels have something different. Have a team leader write down the differences as kids say them. (A teacher may need to facilitate this).

For early-readers, use different Bible storybooks, or eliminate/substitute this station with something else. Provide Bibles, flipchart, and markers.

Passages they compare:
Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15. Award 50 points for 5 or more "significant differences", 25 points for 3 or more significant differences, and 10 for 2 or more significant differences. You may decide what constitutes "significant". See Neil's Bible Background doc for suggestions, but differences include: Where did it happen? What town? Who was there? What did Jesus say? What happened afterwards? Who said what?

Game Station Four: Collect the Bread into the Baskets!

Place three lines on the floor at 5, 10 and 20 feet away from a rather large basket (closer for younger students). Have several "loaves of Bread" (large sponges or bricks of dense squoosh foam). Each student gets THREE TOSSES. They can choose to toss the bread into the basket from one of the three lines. From the 5 foot line they get 10 points. From the 10 foot line they get 20 points. From the 20 foot line they get 50 points. Depending on age group and size of your basket, you can adjust "# of throws". They are throwing for total team score.

Now here's the kicker:
To receive a loaf of Bread to throw, the student has to answer one of three questions which you have conveniently posted on a poster board:

#1: Tell us part of the story of the Feeding of the 5000.
#2: Tell us something about Jesus Christ that's important.
-or #3: Tell us something we can do that helps us learn more about Jesus and serve him. ...and...

Rule: They cannot repeat what other students have already said.
Have a helper make note of some of the things the kids say, and use these in the closing.

Closing:
Walk to each station with all the teams and ask the Helpers to mention something unique they learned there from the students. When you get to the "Station Three: Compare the Gospels", point out why we have four slightly different versions of the Gospel. Ask "Why do you think all four writers would remember this story? What was so important to remember?"

If you have time, have each student cut out a fish and give them a sticky magnet to put on it for their home frig. Have them write a fun saying on the fish, such as, "Feed Me Jesus!" and "Soul Fish from Jesus" and "Hooked by the Lord".


A lesson written by Neil MacQueen

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

 

Jesus Feeds the 5000

Computer Workshop Sketch

 

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Uses the 5 Loaves - 2 Fishes CD (Sunday Software)



The Software:

  • Students meet Peter and travel with him to Bethsaida as if they are the young boy.
  • Once in the village, the player must find their Uncle and must convince him to take the time to go listen to Jesus. (this is a major theme of the CD: learning from Jesus that he is the Messiah and believing.)
  • When they find the bread and fish, and meet Jesus, they hear from him, and become part of the miracle. This miracle inspires the Uncle to believe Jesus is his Lord.
  • Afterwards, the boy and his Uncle go fishing and answer some questions about the story.
  • After answering the questions, the students can view a Music Video about the story and it's meaning for us. The guide to the CD has the lyrics printed for further discussion.


The CD's interactive game is laid out like a lesson plan. The story is fully presented, and reflection/quiz/discussion questions are found throughout. It's a complete lesson, and includes a reflection music video at the end of the game with discussion questions. 


For a teacher's guide to how to play the game, a lesson plan, and where certain content is located in the game, print the lesson plan and CD outline at http://www.sundaysoftware.com/tips/5000-guide.pdf


A lesson written by Neil MacQueen

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

Neil is the author of the CD.


 

The Feeding of the 5000

Drama Workshop

 

Summary of Lesson Activities:

3 imagined versions of "Small Boy" at home "the day after" he met Jesus.

The skits in this drama are different than your typical skits. First, they have reflection/life application, and aren't just recapitulations of the story. Secondly, they free up your kids from having to read scripts. This is a technique you can use for many other stories. Their 'style' harkens back to old youth group skit activites and a popular gameshow.

 

Scripture Reference:

John 6:1-15

 


Supplies List:

  • Skit Skips
  • Bowl

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Gather the materials.


 

Presentation

 

Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

 

Open with a prayer.

 

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:


Bible Study:
Read John 6: 1-15 with your class. Use a storybook for younger children. Pull out a "disciple costume" and a "small boy with a fish" costume. Hand them to various children to quickly put on, then ask them one of these questions. Pass the costumes around to designate who's "turn" it is to answer the next question you have. Here are the questions you might ask:

Questions for the Disciple:

  • What were you thinking when Jesus told YOU to feed all these people?
  • What were you thinking when Jesus said the 5 loaves and 2 fish would be enough? Did you think he was off his rocker?
  • What were you thinking about Jesus when the baskets came back FULL after everyone had enough to eat?
  • Several times later you would DOUBT Jesus again. In the boat during the storm, and when he was arrested, for example. Why is it hard to believe in Jesus?

Questions for the Small Boy:

  • Why were you there that day ?
  • When Jesus asked for your lunch, what first went through your mind?
  • After the miracle, when you got home, what did you tell your Dad about Jesus?
  • How has your life been different since meeting and learning from Jesus and seeing this miracle?

Ask the children if they know what the phrase "talk the talk and walk the walk" means. Explain it to them. Jesus wants us to say that we believe, and ACT like we believe. Say: Jesus' miracle was meant to reveal WHO HE REALLY WAS to the crowd and to his disciples. He wants us to BELIEVE in him as the Savior, the Christ, so that we can do more than just TALK about following him, but have the strength of belief to ACT like him.

How do we ACT like Jesus? (caring, kindness, healing, forgiving, teaching and learning God's Word, praying, worshipping).

Jesus did this miracle because he wants us to BELIEVE in him, and go home from the crowd that day and tell others, and lead holy lives. What happens AFTER you go to church, what happens THE DAY AFTER you say you believe, is important. It's walking the walk, and not just talking the talk.

The "Day After" Skits

The following skit scripts are quite different than you typically see posted in the Exchange Drama lessons. They are based on skit game we used to use in youth ministry "way back when" and are similar to skits in a popular game show. You can apply this skit concept to many other stories as well.

In this skit concept, the kids will split up into groups of 2, and come forward to draw a "skit slip situation" out of a bowl. They must read the skit slip TITLE out loud and get ready to act it out. The teacher has the script that corresponds with the skit slip, they do the voices while the actors act out saying what the narrator says, and DOING the motions which the narrator says. (Feel free to playfully add things for them to do). Tell them that "the best actors" will receive awards! If you have more than six kids, either add a skit of your own making, or put the skit slips back in the bowl and do some twice. It will be fun. The success of these skits will in large part depend on YOU the READER taking your time, pausing and prompting. Copy these texts into your own wordprocessing document and enhance.

Skit Slip One: Lord, I wanna join your band.

Small boy picks up the phone and calls Jesus, dialing the numbers outloud. Jesus answers "hello". Hello you've reached the Lord Jesus' voicemail. Press 1 if you want to follow me. Press Zero if you don't. Small boy presses 1, and Jesus picked up the phone. Finally! someone wants to follow me, Jesus said doing a little victory dance. It's me, smallboy, he said breathlessly like he was really out of breath, and I wanna join your band Jesus. My band? Jesus asked...you mean my rock band? or my disciple's band? Uh, there's a difference?, said small boy looking really unsure, and kind of lost. Not really, said Jesus, excitedly talking with his hands. Both bands ROCK, said Jesus as he played his electric guitar. Louder. And they are both kind of the same. Oh? said a confused small boy, hitting his forehead as he tried to figure out what Jesus meant. Yeah, said Jesus striking a rockstar pose. Both my rockband and my disciples band follow me, the leader. We practice together, he said, doing a rockstar yell O Yeah! We go on the road together, he said walking around in circles. We do a lot of singing, Jesus said as he started to sing a song of praise. I only play the guitar, said small boy as he pretended to air guitar, down on one knee. That's okay said Jesus, excitedly gesturing with his hands, and feet. When you join my band, you bring whatever gifts you have, and put them in with everyone else's, and my Father in Heaven blesses them so that we sound GREAT together, he said pumping his fist in the air. Awesome Dude! said small boy. I mean, uh, How nice Lord Jesus. No it is AWESOME DUDE, said Jesus, striking a rockstar pose, flipping his hair. So how to I get started said small boy. Well, said Jesus, pointing his finger in the air, my band practices every Sunday morning, said Jesus looking strongly over his phone at small boy who he could see across the phoneline because he was the Lord, every Sunday morning at your local church. Shall I expect you? To which small boy, jumping with joy, kicking up his feet, and landing in a rockstar pose said, "Yes Dude! ...I mean Lord. See you then.

Skit Slip Two: Get Out of Bed!

It's 8 am on Sunday morning and Small girl is still snoring in bed. Her alarm clock sounds. She hits the alarm clock. It sounds again, and she hits it again, and starts snoring again. Her mom yells up the stairs, Time to go to church Small girl! Small girl snores louder. Mom walks loudly up the stairs yelling again. Come on....you yourself said you believe in Jesus Christ, so it's up to you to get out of bed and go learn about him and worship him. Small girl pulled the covers up over her head, and mumbled. Look! said her mother as she tore the sheets off small girl's bed. Small girl cringed because all she had on was her My Little Pony underwear. MOM! I'm tired! shouted small girl as she sat up, then started jumping on the bed. Well, you're up now, dear, get ready for church. But Mom, I got to bed late, said small girl as she stomped her feet, and gritted her teeth, and flipped her long flowing hair, while putting on a shirt. That's tough small girl. But when you make a choice to believe in Jesus, you make a commitment to go learn from him too. Now here, take your fish, and your bread, and put on this dress. And here, let me help you put on your shoes. Why is this shoe stuck? I should push harder. MOM! There, now I'll meet you in the car, she said as she skipped back down the stairs. But Mom! said small girl as she threw herself on the floor...I'm so tired, Jesus will understand, won't he? ...she said as she stomped down the stairs. then realized she had stomped all the way to the basement, and stomped back upstairs to the garage. Get in the car dear, if you're going to "talk the talk" of faith, then you've got to walk the walk of faith. And they drove off to church, in their noisy car, a little too fast.

Skit Slip Three: Carry me Daddy?

It was 9 am Sunday morning, and everyone was just waking up at the small boy's home. Small boy was yawning. And rubbing his eyes. And scratching his bum. And small boy's dad was getting up, yawning, rubbing his eyes, shaving his face, gargling mouthwash, and sipping coffee. Dad? Said small boy, I want to go to church this morning. What? said dad as he spit up his coffee. You want to go to church? It's boring! he said as he threw down his newspaper. Yeah, I know it's boring sometimes dad, said small boy as he picked up the paper, and gave it back to his dad, and shook his finger at him for his terrible attitude. Dad, it's Jesus, I met him yesterday and he's The One! See my finger signaling that? Number 1, Dad, Number 1. See my toes signaling that? He's the Messiah Dad. the Messiah? said dad, scratching his head, and fluffing his hair. You think he might be the one sent by God, huh? said the Dad while he brushed his teeth and mumble something with frothy toothpaste coming out of his mouth. Yeah, said the small boy as he started to brush his teeth and frothing at the mouth. And if that's true Dad, we own him our attention and our worship and our service. WHAT? said the dad frothing at the mouth. I don't understand you? I said, said the small boy still brushing his teeth and spitting, I said he's the Son of God DAD! I know it, I saw it, I feeeeeel it, say the small boy rubbing his hands all through his hair to show how much he was feeling it. And wiggling his body Well, Okay, said the dad, but remember, your legs don't work sometimes, and it sure looks like your legs are all wobbly this morning. Really wobbly, so here, let me give you a piggy back ride to church, because if Jesus in the One, then we BOTH need to go learn from him. And the Dad gave a piggyback ride to the small boy, and they went to church. And they went up hill, and downhill, and around a curve, and the small boy waved at his friends as they passed by. Come to church with us, he shouted, Jesus in the One, come one! And the children all ran and joined in the piggyback ride to church on the Dad. Because that's what makes Jesus happy... people like Dad and small boy, and other kids coming to learn from him, and learn that he is their Lord. Amen!


I hope you recognize and enjoy this type of skit. It was made popular on the TV show "Who's Line Is It Anyway". This type of skit is a really great way to free up kids from having to read scripts, and instead, just REACT to the narration. The audience really loves it too. Consider videotaping the skits for fun.

Closing:
Offer donut holes and swedish fish and juice to your actors. Say that Jesus wants us to BELIEVE in him, LEARN from him, ENJOY being together with him. Let's pray for those things.


A lesson written by Neil MacQueen

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Bread of Heaven

Video Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Students watch Nest's "Bread of Heaven" DVD.

The DVD combines the Feeding of the 5000 (where Jesus signals who he really is to the crowd) with Jesus' declaration of his identity as "The Bread of Heaven".

The Bread from Heaven Activity Book: Is now packaged with the DVD when you order it (Nest Learning). This Nest resource has coloring pages and puzzles about the story for younger and older children which are referenced below.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Gather the materials.
  • Preview the video.

Supplies List:

  • "Bread of Heaven" DVD and Activity Book.
  • Popcorn.


Presentation

Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

1. Prior to Showing the DVD:

Remind everyone that the story of Jonas in this story is fictional. The rest is true!

Pass around some pieces of bread and ask the children for things that have bread in them (hamburgers, etc). Explain the meaning of "bread" as a basic food for our bodies, and "Jesus is going to teach us that he is like basic food for our souls. We are called to believe in him, and allow his words to be like bread that makes our faith strong."

Older Children: Distribute and quickly read the questions from the "Bread From Heaven Questions" page in the downloadable activity book. Tell them they will be answering these questions after they watch the video.

2. Students watch Nest's "Bread of Heaven" DVD.

3. After Showing the DVD:

Younger Children: Distribute the puzzle page of your choice from the downloadable activity book.

Older Children: Answer the questions in the Bread From Heave Questions" you passed out before the video. Then, distribute the "Who Am I?" puzzle from the older kids section of the downloadable activity book.

Closing:

Pass out stick pretzels and softwhite bread. Have students make an edible bread Jesus. Discuss the image of "Jesus as the Bread of Heaven". Remind the students that we are called to BELIEVE in this bread! ...and to help others to believe in him and find nourishment for their lives and faith. Remind the kids of the connection to Communion. Eat your bread Jesus! ...and make another couple of them and put in baggies to give to parents/siblings.

Conclude with a prayer for Jesus to be our Daily Bread.


A lesson written by Neil MacQueen.

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

The Feeding of the 5000

Bible Background for Sunday School Teachers

 

The following is an excerpt of the Bible Background I created for use with my 5 Loaves ~ 2 Fishes CD, but is suitable for all workshops.


Bible Background:

What is this story REALLY about?


Traditionally, Sunday School has compressed this story into a "story about sharing what you have", and "Jesus will multiply our gifts". Those ideas are certainly good ones to teach and IN the story by God's Spirit. And these are great images and metaphors for "feeding the hungry". The music video song in my 5 Loaves CD DOES highlight some of those sentiments. But it sneakily also points to the more original, or "PRIMARY" meaning of this miracle story, which is this: BELIEVE IN JESUS. In this miracle, Jesus is reaching out to the crowd and to us.

The miracle announces that Jesus was the Messiah, the One who had the Authority. He wasn't merely a "good teacher" with a lesson about sharing. And this is typical of Jesus and his other miracles as well. They ANNOUNCE, POINT TO, REVEAL his identity to people who weren't expecting God and had lost hope in the Messiah.

One preacher described the meaning of this story as, "the hunger beneath the hunger".
We hunger for God to be made real to us, to come and lead us.
Jesus hungers for us to know who he is and believe in his name.

This miracle really isn't about "sharing what we have to feed others". In the miracle of the Feeding of the 5000, Jesus was NOT concerned that people would starve. And indeed, the 5 loaves and 2 fish were hardly "gifts" from a crowd so large.

We also have to look at "context" to understand the writers' original intentions. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, this story follows on the death of John the Baptist, which further reinforces the point that this miracle is Jesus' calling card: "I am indeed The One, The Messiah whom John foretold". In John, the miracle comes after a long section on Jesus addressing his authority. Thus....

The "Primary Meaning" of this story is that Jesus is the One Sent By God.

  • The miracle CONFIRMS his authority.
  • It puts the STAMP of God's approval on his message.
  • It REVEALS to the Disciples who their master really was.
  • The Feeding of the 5000 is primarily a SIGN**.

**Notice I keep saying "primarily"...and that's because Gospel stories can have several meanings and insights evolve from them by the power of the Spirit, even though there was an original context and intent. My goal in this Bible Background is not to throw the "small boy" and "sharing/multiply the gifts" under the bus. Rather, I think we need to REBALANCE our teaching of this story, and not let it simply be a nice story with a moral platitude about "sharing".

Yes, Jesus wants us to share, but the question is WHY? The answer is not "because it's a good idea", but rather, we share because we believe in him. And we believe in him because Jesus has shown us to be The One, The Savior.

The crowd, like us, has heard Jesus and wondered,
"WHO IS THIS MAN?" "IS HE THE SON OF GOD?"
"WHERE DOES HIS AUTHORITY COME FROM?"
and "IS HE WORTHY? SHOULD I FOLLOW HIM?"

So Jesus gives us and them a sign. He reveals who he is to us. And now we have a choice.

So the focus shouldn't be on the boy and his lunch, but what happened AFTERWARDS. Hence the lyrics in the CD's theme song: "5 Loaves, 2 Fishes, O Lord don't you know what my wish is, -just to be with you and serve you all my life".

Is the bread in this story "something about Communion"?
Not really. The sharing of the bread might seem to indicate "yes", but that day by the shore "bread" was simply an important daily ration of food. Only later, did the Early Church latch on to the bread in this story with a prophetic, or "predicting, pre-figuring" meaning. That day, however, bread was merely a prop, and there was fish too, --another "diet staple" of people living by the Sea of Galilee. So, while you can make an interesting connection between bread and Eucharist, Jesus' didn't perform this miracle to some-how "predict" Communion. Like the mud he spit in to restore sight to the blind man, Jesus is using what was at hand as PROPS to make a bigger point.

Jesus used the bread and fish as a prop to reveal who he is to the disciples and crowd. The importance was not the bread, but The One doing the miracle. Yes, John's Gospel laster goes on "Jesus bread of life", and of course, all four Gospels have the Last Supper's bread as "my body broken for you". But taken on its own, the bread that day wasn't food for the soul. Jesus says nothing about the bread or the fish having significance. It is the miracle of "multiplication" which is the SIGN, not the bread itself.

Is this a story about "sharing"?
Probably not. If so, it's a paltry example. 5000 people and all that was shared was 5 loaves and 2 fish? If Jesus had wanted to make it a story about sharing, he probably would have upbraided the crowd or the disciples, but he doesn't. In fact, Jesus saw this as an opportunity to reveal who he was. (And he had probably already covered "sharing, love and taking care of the less fortunate during his long day of teaching). The point he made was that he has the AUTHORITY --shown that can take any thing and do something wonderful with it. The paltry few fish and loaves might as well have been stones. And as Jesus said elsewhere, God can take stones and make children of Abraham, or make the stones sing.

So rather than turn this into the traditional mere "parable about sharing" which ignores what Jesus was trying to show, let's take Jesus' point of view in the story. The Disciples at first think Jesus' demand to feed the crowd is IMPOSSIBLE, and even after he prods them, they can only come up with 5 loaves and 2 fish. That's when Jesus demonstrates how the IMPOSSIBLE CAN BECOME POSSIBLE. And frankly, it seems IMPOSSIBLE that God has sent his Messiah here in our midst, that this simple man from Nazareth is The One. So no, it's not about us sharing, it's about God sharing himself, showing himself, fulfilling his promise.

If you over-focus on the sharing/gifts/bread, you miss Jesus' original point in doing the miracle: KNOWING WHO HE IS. And that's what most of the miracles are about.... God revealing his presence to those ready to see, and moving people towards faith. When we get to "faith" ...certainly sharing becomes part of our response. But by the shore that day, the crowd wasn't there yet. And most of our kids are not there yet either. They need you to help share/announce/reveal Christ, not turn this into a platitude about sharing.

The hard work of "sharing to change the world" is left to another day and other stories, --to people who finally BELIEVE in the presence of God and get organized. THOSE people will be expected to bring A LOT MORE than just 5 loaves and 2 fish. And God will be in that work too. But today, by the sea, among the crowd, Jesus needs to be listened to, and believed that HE IS THE ONE SENT BY GOD, to be accepted as our Lord and Savior.

Is this a story about "a small boy like our children giving his all to Jesus" ? Old-timey preachers and traditional lessons love that image. But only John includes the small boy, the other Gospels do not, so you could say NO, it's not a story for our children to "be like that small boy". And yet, there he is. But rather than focusing on his bread and fish, let's focus on the FACT that THE SMALL BOY WAS THERE LISTENING TO JESUS! Like our children today, the small boy could have stayed home, or gone out to play with his friends. But he choose to be there and listen to Jesus. So if you're going to EXTOL THE VIRTUES OF THE BOY in the story, extol his desire to share his time going hear Jesus, not his lunch. (The music video in the software speaks to this).


Life Application for our Kids:

This miracle tells us that Jesus chooses to reveal himself in our lives, often in surprising ways. But note that it happens after a long day (or morning!) of teaching and listening! We need to BE THERE, to put ourselves in a position to experience Jesus in a deeper way beyond his words.

Even after Sunday School, we still need to know Jesus, and not just "about" Jesus. Many that day had their eyes opened, some probably not.

Do you walk away from the shore that day seeking to FOLLOW Christ? Needing to tell others about him? Needing to learn more and get closer? That's what Jesus wants.

At the end of the day by the shore, or the end of the morning at church, after you have been with Jesus, WHAT DO YOU NEED and WANT?
Now you know why the music reflection song says..."5 Loaves, 2 Fishes, O Lord don't you know what my WISH IS, -just to be with you, and serve you all my life." Like the boy that day, we want our kids to walk away feeling Jesus is their Savior, and that with Jesus, anything is possible, ...even their FAITH is possible, even it if only looks like a paltry gift of bread and fish. Jesus can show himself to us, and leave us transformed by the experience.


Differences in the Four Gospels

The four Gospel versions of the Feeding of the 5000 are not identical. There are some subtle and incidental differences, which challenged the design of our 5 Loaves ~ 2 Fishes CD. For example, where did the story take place? There’s no agreement. And only John mentions the small boy --which goes to support the interpretation that the miracle wasn't really about the boy and his small gift. They are supporting 'props'.

Matthew 14: Jesus and his disciples seek a “deserted place” to rest somewhere along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus sees the crowd gathered and comes ashore to teach them. Afterwards, Jesus sends the disciples back by boat while he goes off to pray.

Mark 6: Jesus and his disciples seek a “deserted place” to rest somewhere along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Seeing the crowds on the shore, Jesus comes ashore and begins to teach the multitude. After the miracle, Jesus sends his disciples to Bethsaida by boat, while he goes off on his own.

Luke 9: Luke places the miracle near Bethsaida, which is just up the road from Capernaum, Peter’s hometown and an early base for Jesus’ missionary efforts. Luke does not mention where Jesus and the disciples went afterwards. We chose Luke's location for our CD.

John 6: Jesus and his disciples go up a mountain somewhere along the Sea of Galilee. After the miracle, John says Jesus and his disciples went by boat back to Capernaum, -which is just south of Bethsaida. Only John’s Gospel mentions the little boy with his 5 loaves and 2 fish.


Background written by Neil MacQueen

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

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