Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

John 6:1–13

1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.
2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,
9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

Elder James E. Talmage wrote:

“So intent were the people on hearing the Lord’s words, and so concerned in the miraculous relief resulting from His healing ministrations, that they remained in the wilderness, oblivious to the passing of the hours, until the evening approached. It was the springtime, near the recurrence of the annual Passover festival, the season of grass and flowers [see John 6:4; Matt. 14:19; Mark 6:39]. Jesus, realizing that the people were hungry, asked Philip, one of the Twelve, ‘Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ [John 6:5]. The purpose of the question was to test the Apostle’s faith; for the Lord had already determined as to what was to be done. Philip’s reply showed surprise at the question, and conveyed his thought that the suggested undertaking was impossible. ‘Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little,’ said he [John 6:7]. Andrew added that there was a lad present who had five barley loaves, and two small fishes, ‘But,’ said he, ‘what are they among so many?’ [John 6:9].

“Such is John’s account; the other writers state that the Apostles reminded Jesus of the lateness of the hour, and urged that He send the people away to seek for themselves food and lodging in the nearest towns. It appears most probable that the conversation between Jesus and Philip occurred earlier in the afternoon; and that as the hours sped, the Twelve became concerned and advised that the multitude be dismissed. The Master’s reply to the Apostles was: ‘They need not depart; give ye them to eat’ [Matt. 14:16]. In amazed wonder they replied: ‘We have here but five loaves and two fishes’ [Matt. 14:17]; and Andrew’s despairing comment is implied again—What are they among so many?

“Jesus gave command, and the people seated themselves on the grass in orderly array; they were grouped in fifties and hundreds; and it was found that the multitude numbered about five thousand men, beside women and children. Taking the loaves and the fishes, Jesus looked toward heaven and pronounced a blessing upon the food; then, dividing the provisions, He gave to the Apostles severally, and they in turn distributed to the multitude. The substance of both fish and bread increased under the Master’s touch; and the multitude feasted there in the desert, until all were satisfied. To the disciples Jesus said: ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost’ [John 6:12]; and twelve baskets were filled with the surplus.”

(Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 333–34.)

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