After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His sings which He performed on those who were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
7 Philip Answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people 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 them to the disciples and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they fathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves and which left over by those who had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is come into the world.
Despite the way John wrote the opening statement it was actually quite sometime between Christ’s appearance before the Sanhedrin and the feeding of the 5000. In fact, nearly a year had past since Christ had been in Jerusalem, healed the cripple beside the pool of Bethesda and testified before the Sanhedrin that He was indeed the Messiah.
The people were again traveling toward Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. But there was a great multitude the followed Jesus. They followed because of the signs which He performed in healing the sick.
While John took some time to show Christ’s work among the Judeans, he virtually skips over a year of work in Galilee. John takes the time to set up the time frame by references the feasts and Jesus attendance at each of them.
It is also interesting to note that in John, chapter 5 brings to a close the Judean ministry and chapter six does the same for his public ministry in Galilee.
John as he does so often throughout his book, gives testimony or evidence to Jesus being the true Messiah. As John gives us evidence of Christ being the Messiah, he also traces the major steps by which the Jews both in Judea and Galilee turn against Christ and eventually rejected Him.
Perhaps the sketchiness of John’s coverage of the Galilean ministry is the fact that John wrote his gospel after Matthew, Mark and Luke had written theirs. Perhaps he felt that the Galilean ministry was sufficiently covered in the other gospels.
It is probable that the feeding of the 5000 happened on a grassy hill or mountain near the see of Galilee and near the town of Bethsaida. The other gospels make it clear that the area was uninhabited, yet still near to Bethsaida.
In the fifth verse, John uses the word Come in the literal sense that while the crowd was still coming Jesus asked of Philip, how they were going to feed this crowd of people.
Jesus Himself raised the question of food when the crowd first appeared, and several hours later, Philip and the other disciples still had not found a solution to the question. Their response was to send the people away.
Perhaps the reason Jesus mentioned Philip specifically is that He was from Bethsaida, the people knew him therefore he might have been able to come up with a good response to the question posed on how to feed them all.
But Jesus had a deeper meaning for asking Philip this question. The question was intended to test Philip’s faith. The disciple’s pessimistic reply as to the impossibility of feeding the thousands of people present only made Jesus’ solution to the problem all the more impressive. By first drawing from his own estimate of the situation, Jesus was able, by his miracle, to make even greater impact on the mind of Philip than would otherwise have been possible.
For you see, Jesus knew what he would do.
Christ knows what He is doing in our lives too. That is why he often asks us the tough question and places us in uncomfortable situations. It is to test our faith and to see if we will rely on Him in everything. Jesus knew what he would do that day, and He knows what he would do in the lives of each of us, if we open our heart to Him and by faith accept Him into our hearts.