Leader Notes “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have.” Hebrews 13:16
It’s the only miracle before the Resurrection mentioned in all four Gospels. It must be important. As evening approached the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a remote place and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied and the disciples picked up twelve baskets full of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about 5000 men besides women and children (Matt 14:15-21).
This is the only miracle Jesus performed before His Resurrection that is included in all the gospels, and so it must be important. Reading all four accounts (the one from Matthew above plus Mark 6:32-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-13) is necessary to gain the full impact of the story, because each writer included details unique to his version. (For my article on the need for four gospel accounts, read ). The basic premise is laid out in Matthew. There were 5000 men plus an undetermined number of women and children who had followed Jesus into a remote spot having heard that He was in the area. (Remember it was only the Jewish Leadership that rejected Him. He was enormously popular with the people. That’s one of the reasons the leaders feared Him.) Some of the disciples became concerned as evening approached that the people would be hungry and there wouldn’t be anything to give them. They had located 5 barley loaves and 2 fish, only enough for one or two. When Jesus took what they had and gave thanks for it, it became more than enough to feed the entire crowd. 12 baskets full of pieces Jesus identified Himself as the Bread of Life given for us (John 6:35), and that the fish became the symbol for believers in His Word, a name also used of Him (John 1:1), and the hidden message begins to emerge. Jesus likened this miracle to the giving of the manna in the wilderness, indicating that it was a foreshadowing of Him (John 6:25-40).
In his account of this miracle Mark describes the crowd as being “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34) and mentions that the grass upon which the people were made to sit down was green, recalling the phrase from Psalm 23, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” And indeed Psalm 23 describes how the Good Shepherd tends His flock. Mark also describes how the people were organized into groups of 100’s and 50’s.
Luke adds what I think is the most fascinating piece of information of all: the location of the miracle. It was near a town called Bethsaida. The name is usually translated “house of fishing” and denotes their proximity to the Sea of Galilee and the town’s major industry.
John says that the event took place near the time of the Jewish Passover, explaining why the grass was green (it was spring time) and lets us in on what Jesus was thinking. Would His disciples who knew Him better than anyone suggest that He had the supernatural power to feed them all or propose a merely human solution? How like us they were. With all the power of the universe in their midst, they could only devise a response based on their own capability (John 6:5-9). John also gives us the crowd’s reaction. “Surely this is the Prophet Who is to come into the world,” they said. Jesus, knowing they intended to come and make Him king by force withdrew again to a mountain by Himself (John 6:14-15). They didn’t understand that Jesus needed to fulfill His role as the Obedient Servant by first dying for their sins before accepting His destiny as King of Kings. Later He accused them of only following Him because He fed them (John 6:26). Sounds like us again.
Welcome Activity Basket-Weave Place Mat Supplies:
11-by-17 construction paper
markers or crayons
Read through the instructions below and make a sample place mat.
Have the children lay one sheet of 11-by-17 paper in front of them, like a place mat.
Have them fold the paper in half to make an 11-by-81⁄2 rectangle.
Have them draw vertical lines approximately one inch apart from the folded edge to about one inch before the opposite edge. Have them cut along the lines, then unfold the paper.
Cut strips of paper, 1-by-11, from other colors of construction paper.
Have the children weave the strips of paper into the large piece of paper, being sure to alternate the beginning of each strip from the front and from the back. Have them push each strip up next to the previously woven strip.
Have the children secure each strip of woven paper using glue or tape. Trim the woven edges to make the edges of the place mat even, if necessary.
Across the center of the place mat, have them write the words, “God loves you.”
Today’s Bible story is about a little boy who brought his lunch to a picnic where Jesus was. The little boy shared his lunch.
Jesus was teaching near a town called Bethsaida and about five thousand men, as well as women and children were listening to Him. Jesus saw that it was getting late and the sun was starting to set. Soon it would be supper time and He knew the people were getting hungry. "We need to give these people something to eat," said Jesus. "Where can we buy food for all these people?" asked Philip, "We don't have enough money to buy food for everybody. It would take seven month's wages to pay for enough food!" Andrew then spoke up, "Here's a little boy who has brought five loaves of bread and two fish with him. But that's not enough food for even two of these people!" Imagine trying to feed more than five thousand people with only five little loaves and two small fishes. They wouldn't even get one crumb each! Children, how many loaves and fish do you think it would take to feed five thousand people? (Let the children respond). In those days they only made small loaves, and after all, the boy was going to eat all the five loaves and two fish himself. The boy willingly gave his supper to Jesus. Jesus then asked His disciples to get all the people to sit down in groups of fifty. Then He thanked God for the food, and the disciples began handing out the bread and fish to the people. Peter could not believe it as he looked down at a loaf and fish in his basket, and saw them begin to multiply into two, then four, then eight, then sixteen! How would you feel if you saw this happening? (Let the children respond). Peter's eyes grew as big as saucers as he watched his few loaves and fishes multiply into a huge pile of food! "Quick," he said to the nearest person, "Take some before it falls onto the ground! Peter got all excited and shouted to the other disciples, "Hey, come and help me, I can't hold all this food, it's multiplying too fast for me to carry!" The disciples had the same problem and ran to each group of fifty people and quickly dropped off dozens of loaves and fishes, and then ran on to the next group before their baskets began to overflow again! At last it was the disciple's turn and there were still heaps of bread and fishes left for them to eat. When all the people were finished eating, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. I am sure as they went to sleep that night they must have been thinking that they witnessed a miracle. Jesus provided for their need.
I'm certain that that little boy must have run home shouting, "Hey, mom! Remember those five loaves and two fishes you gave me? Well, I've just seen a man feed thousands and thousands of people with them!" I wonder what his mother replied? And for us, Jesus is still the same and He can still do miracles in our lives.
Small But Mighty You’ll Need Air popper Popcorn kernels Popcorn salt Measuring Cups – ¼ and 1 cup
Ask: What happens to these popcorn kernels when they are heated? Can you predict how much popcorn will come out of this ¼ cup of unpopped corn? I’ll pop this popcorn and then we’ll measure how much we got after it was popped.
Conclude: Sometimes we think our gifts to God are small and won’t make much of a difference. Think about the boy in today’s Bible story. He brought lunch for himself, 5 small loaves of bread and 2 fish. God can use our small gifts in great ways. Listen to 1 Timothy 6:18: “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
Thank You, Jesus, for always being with us. Thank you for giving us everything we need! Thank you for always hearing and answering our prayers. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Bread, Basket, Fish This game is very similar to Rock, Paper, Scissors Actions are: Bread: Fist Basket: Hands cupped together, palms up, holding out as if to hold something Fish – hands pressed together, thumbs up, wiggle like a fish
Basket defeats bread because bread is put into the basket. Bread defeats fish because bread is wrapped around fish for eating. Fish defeats basket because live fish can flop out of the basket.
Say: When we give to God, He can do great things with our gifts to Him. A boy once gave his lunch to Jesus. Jesus used this small lunch to feed a huge crowd. Let’s play a game to remind us of the gifts given by this boy.
Pair up with someone and let’s play a couple of games of Bread, Basket, Fish. Then we’ll play a large group game with everyone, using Bread, Basket and Fish.
Play Bread, Basket, Fish
Now let’s play Bread, Basket, Fish all together. Here’s how to play, we’re going to divide into two teams. Each team huddles near its safe zone and choose only ONE sign. Then everyone gathers at the line, pairing up with another member from the other team. Everyone together will say, Bread, Basket, Fish at the same time. On the word fish, you’ll reveal the sign your team chose.
The winning team will chase the losing team back to the losing team’s safe zone. Any student who is tagged joins the winning team. If both teams show the same sign, teams huddle and play again.
Mounding Drops You’ll need: Coins – 1 per 3 students per group Water Glass to hold water – 1 per 2 students per group Eyedroppers – 1 per 3 students
Jesus fed more people than His friends thought He could – thousands of people with just one boy’s lunch. Let’s see how many drops of water can fit on a coin – hint, it’s a lot more than you think!
Put your coin on a flat surface. Fill your dropper with water and squeeze out drops onto the coin, one at a time, be sure to count the number of drops it took to cover your coin. Then keep dropping water drops onto your coin. Keep counting! Do experiment.
You might have thought the coin could only hold enough drops to cover it. But because water molecules are hydrophilic (or water-loving) and stick to one another, surface tension allows you to mound up twice as many drops.
Jesus’ miracle of feeding 5000 people shows the great love and compassion Jesus has for us: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them” (Mark 6:34). First Jesus fed the people’s souls by teaching them about the kingdom of God. Then He fed their bodies.
Closing Activity Close by saying: Thank you God for loving us every day. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Blessing:May God, who is all around you, Beginning at the bottom of the circle, slowly pour his love upon you.make a large circle with your hands. Finish by bringing your hands down and wiggling the fingers to resemble rain.) And Jesus, his life a sacrifice,Slowly make a large sign of the cross. Then walk right there beside you.move your hands out to the sides. And may God’s Holy Spirit, Cross your hands over the heart. the one who lives inside you, keep you strong, Move to a “strong man” position. Then comfort, lead and guide you!cross your arms with the hands on corresponding upper arms to communicate comfort. Bring one hand forward with “lead” and the other with “guide” to complete the blessing.)