Feeding 5000 – Three Groups of People

Posted on December 14, 2014


Every word and how it is presented in the Bible is important and so much is said that we miss at times.  Mostly what happens is we get taught a common perspective on a passage and we stop looking for more of what God is saying.  In the historical account of Jesus doing the miracle of feeding five thousand with only five loaves and two fish we mostly just marvel at the miracle of multiplication and look no deeper, yet there is more.  This is first in a series on messages from the feeding of the five thousand.

Three Groups

In the story of the feeding the five thousand there are three distinct groups of which we all are a part of one the groups. We have a choice as to which group we wish to finally be a part of. The groups are Jesus the leader, the twelve disciples, and finally the multitude. This is looking at only people we would call groups of believers and there are groups that would mirror the same levels not serving God in any way with their lives.

Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. 15  And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. 16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. 17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18 He said, Bring them hither to me. 19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. 21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

The Multitude

Every believer is at least a part of the multitude group. The multitude is where we all begin and unfortunately where most stay.  As in this story and many others of the gospels, this large group of people came out to receive and witness what was happening.  For the most part they were all already believers in the sense that they were Jews. Some many people were getting healed and demons being cast out that large crowds almost always gathered around Jesus when he began to minister.  We see similar things happen over history when God is doing something great through a ministry or individual crowds spontaneously show up with little or no advertising.  This group shows up and they are there to receive their miracle and for little effort be changed for the better.  Jesus graciously works this crowd and people are really changed in many ways through healing and deliverance, both personally and for someone they love.

The Multitude – Most Never Change

This should be the launching ground for a new life of passion in serving God, but for most it was an event that will pass and they go about their life with no real change. Just the number ratio tells us much, 5000/12/1.  No these multitude people were most likely attending regularly at the synagogue, paying their tithes, and celebrating the high holy days but they did not have the passion about their lives to become disciples or even more become a leader.  This doesn’t make these people bad or necessarily even missing a higher call, only God knows and the person if they ask what their high calling really is for their life.  Many are called but few are chosen. In summary of the multitude you see they only received in this example and gave nothing.  They received personal life changing ministry of healing and or deliverance and a meal and gave nothing back to Jesus. When the receiving came to an end they went their way back to their lives.


The next group is the disciples. As the name suggest they are disciplined ones.  The numbers decline down to a handful of twelve. In this story we learn a lot about these disciples.  First they have submitted their lives to the leader, Jesus. Submission is so important and often missing in the American church because we all wish to cast a vote rather than take orders in obedience. It was a disciple that came to Jesus worried about a large crowd and no food.  Jesus after he broke the food up and gave it to the disciples, then the disciples gave it to the multitude.  A small group of twelve took on the huge task of feeding five thousand. That sounds like what happens too often in ministry today, a small number of devoted people do most all of the work to make things happen for everyone else.

Disciples with a Greater Call

Disciples are not called to pass out dinner plates but how a great call of leadership. Back to the multitude for a moment, they have a greater call as well but the call cannot materialize until any of first began discipleship. Disciples have begun that journey of learning and understanding submission and leadership. These disciples walked away from their former lives and had new lives of ministry, learning and being prepared to lead themselves. We can never be above menial tasks such as passing out food plates because learning to serve in little things prepares for greater things.

Not All Make It

Only a few of the disciples do we know much about because of their writings.  Even Judas is an example of a failed discipleship so not all disciples move on to leadership roles but that should not stop us for pursuing great things from the Lord.

Do Graduate Too Soon

We have man-made programs to follow in Bible Colleges and other schools of ministry that can give us a false sense of being prepared to lead. If we look at the disciples of Jesus we see they spent about three and half years with the greatest minister that ever walked the earth, Jesus. Comparing two or four years to a program at a Bible college or school of the Spirit is a very good thing but not even close to walking with Jesus.  Look at Thomas that made remarks of unbelief and even Peter after spending night and day with Jesus and being first hand witnesses to so many unbelievable events. We are foolish to say that everyone that completes one of man’s designed programs is going to be prepared as well. Discipleship is about hanging in and keeping the hunger and passion alive in your life.  Your spiritual hearing will develop and you and you alone will know when it is time to step into a higher calling.


Again there is a great shift in numbers as we see there was only one leader in the ministry to the five thousand.

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

The first list is just one lists of potential leadership positions that God has laid out for his church. Do not get caught up in the doctrine of the five-fold ministry which is derived by this one verse and not one other biblical example at all to make it such a foundational doctrine as some have done. There are other New Testament lists and only apostles and prophets consistently lead the lists. Five-fold is a new religious term given more weight than other verses with different leadership lists. Saying all that, there are many places to lead and to use God given gifts and talents to build the kingdom.

How Jesus Did It…

Jesus shows us how to lead in this feeding story.  Jesus was there doing what he was here on earth to do and ended up in a situation of a large crowd and not enough resources to care of the needs. As a great leader, this passage tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion to minister to them.  Well seasoned disciples are ready to lead when they have both passion and compassion for those that they are to minister to the needs of. In the natural there was no way to take care of the people so Jesus a great leader looked at what was present and then looked to heaven.

Matthew 14: 17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18 He said, Bring them hither to me. 19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed,

A good leader is always going to look at what has already been provided and ask God to bless that. Then Jesus was not a one man show, he had already surrounded himself with the disciples and work of passing out the food was delegated to the disciples so that all were a part of the miracle.

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