Feeding the 5,000

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 Feeding the 5,000

 

Location

 

1. The traditional site of this miracle is at Tabgha, located on the northwestern side of the Sea of Galilee.

 

2. However, we believe this miracle most likely took place on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee south of Bethsaida a bit.

 

3. Scripture says Jesus and His disciples were headed to Bethsaida, a desolate, or deserted place (Mark 6:31; Luke 9:10). Tabgha is in a very populated area and on the opposite side of the sea from Bethsaida.

 

4. The large population area was from Tiberias to Capernaum (the northwestern side), the deserted area was on the northeastern and eastern side of the sea.

 

5. Bethsaida was a small fishing village and was about the only town on the northeastern side of the sea.

 

6. Immediately after feeding the 5,000, Jesus ordered His disciples to cross over to the other side of the sea (Matt. 14:22).

 

7. While the disciples were crossing over to the other side is when a strong storm arose. Jesus walked on water (Peter attempted to as well), and Jesus calmed the storm.

 

8. The storm seems to have changed the course of their destination as Scripture says that they ended up arriving in the area of Gennesaret (Matt. 14:34–36).

 

9. Gennesaret is located on the northwestern side of the sea where all the population is.

 

10. Gennesaret is less than 2 miles (3 Km.) south of Tabgha. If the miracle happened at Tabgha, going from Tabgha to Gennesaret wouldn’t be crossing over the other side of the sea as both towns are close-by to each other.

11. After Christ arrived at Gennesaret, many heard he had arrived, and a large multitude gathered for healing. If Christ had just been in the area of Tabgha, it wouldn't make sense that a large crowd would gather again right after Christ had just been there.

12. From the location of the feeding of the 5,000, the disciples headed in the direction of Bethsaida and Capernaum (Mark 6:45; John 6:16–17). They had to be enough south of Bethsaida to head that direction by boat. Bethsaida and Capernaum are about 5 miles (7 km.) away from where we believe the feeding of the 5,000 happened.

 

13. For these reasons, we believe the best biblical location for the feeding of the multitude is just south of Bethsaida in this open, flat area. It seems to fit the text and the geography of the land best.

 

Historical Background

 

1. This miracle happened just after Jesus had sent out the 12 disciples to preach and heal throughout Israel (Luke 9:1–9).

 

2. You would think after being used so mightily by God that the disciples would have had more faith.

 

3. It also took place just after the death of John the Baptist (Matt. 14:1–12).

 

4. Jesus and His disciples were headed to this remote place in order to rest after the long ministry period they had just finished (being sent out two by two, preaching and healing).

 

Mark 6:30–32: The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.

 

5. However, instead of resting, a huge ministry opportunity awaited them.

 

Mark 6:33–34: Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.

 

6. Scripture mentions that there were 5,000 who were fed, not including women and children. This means there could easily have been 15,000 people or more present.

 

Places of Interest (Please See Maps Above)

 

1. Bethsaida

2. Tabgha

3. Gennesaret

4. Tiberias
5. Feeding of the 5,000 location
6. Likely place they arrived and departed with their boat
7. Desolate side of the Sea of Galilee
8. Populated side of the Sea of Galilee
9. Sea of Galilee

 

Feeding of the 5,000 in the Bible

 

1. Feeding the multitude
Luke 9:10–11: On their return, the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.

Luke 9:12–17: Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, "Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place." 13 But he said to them, "You give them something to eat." They said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people." 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

 

2. Interestingly, there were twelve baskets. This was no accident as there were 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles.

 

3. After feeding the 5,000, the disciples encountered a huge storm. Christ walked on water, calmed the storm, and they arrived on the northwest side of the sea at Gennesaret (Matt. 14:34–36).

 

4. The crowd Jesus fed later approached Jesus to make Him King; however, Jesus rebuked them.
John 6:25–27: When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" 26 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal."

 

Faith Lesson from Feeding the 5,000

 

1. The disciples should have had more faith after being used mightily by God to preach and heal many people. What about us, do we lack faith after seeing all God has done for us and others?

 

2. The crowd who was fed later approached Jesus to make Him King; however, Jesus rebuked them because they were just seeking what He could do for them and weren’t interested in true discipleship. Do we tend to only want God’s blessings, but no sacrifice, suffering, or persecution?

 

3. Like the crowd Jesus fed, today there are many people who come to God for help and want to be fixed up. However, they don’t want Christ to be Lord of their lives. Do we embrace the lordship of Christ or do we just want our problems solved and then continue living as we please?

 

4. God also cares for our spiritual needs and likens Himself to spiritual bread. Are you laboring for the bread that endures to eternal life or are you more focused on temporary things that will soon fade away?

 

5. Are we feeding our souls daily with God’s Word and the Bread of Life?

 

John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never become hungry, and the one who believes in me will never become thirsty.”

 

Matthew 4:4: It is written, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 
 

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