Spend the week studying John 6:1-15. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Jesus knows our deepest needs and provides for all of them.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
This week your group will discuss the next sign in John’s Gospel: the feeding of the 5,000. We are all hungry for something more and Jesus wants to satisfy that hunger. He is the Bread of Life and has the supernatural power to meet our deepest needs. He is our Provider. No need is too small or great for Him that He can’t give us everything we need to live a full and abundant life.
Recall the last time you were really hungry. What was it like? How did you act?
What does it mean that “we are all hungry for something more”? Explain this statement in your own words.
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
A hungry crowd
Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee and a large crowd followed Him. Word had spread about Him and people came to Him seeking something. Some wanted to be healed. Some wanted to see a miracle. Others wondered whether this Nazarene was really the Messiah (or Savior) God promised long ago. It was Passover and Jesus saw that they were hungry. So He asked Philip, one of His disciples, “Where can we get food to feed these people?” Philip was doubtful. “Jesus, there are too many people. We don’t have enough money to feed them!”
Read John 6:1-15. What stands out to you in the story? Why?
Do you ever feel like Philip when praying to God about your needs? Why or why not?
Jesus satisfies their hunger
Andrew, another disciple, noticed a boy with five loaves of bread and two fish and told Jesus. Jesus looked at this tiny portion of food and told the people to sit down. He prayed and gave thanks over the food. Miraculously, this tiny portion had multiplied enough to feed over 5,000 people there that day. Not only that, but there were twelve baskets of leftovers. The people marveled. “How is this possible? Truly, this is the Prophet Moses said would one day come.”
Imagine yourself watching this miracle take place. What would you be thinking?
Has God ever provided for your needs in abundance? If so, share your story with the group.
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
Your faith will be tested
Isn’t it interesting how Jesus asked Philip what to do when, in fact, He knew exactly what to do? Jesus tested Philip, because He wanted to reveal something about His identity. Jesus understood the situation and what was needed. He knew God had to intervene miraculously to provide for the people’s needs. It’s the same way with us. Sometimes God puts you in situations that test your faith. Why does God do that? In order to show His faithfulness. God doesn’t test your faith to destroy it. He does it to build your trust in Him. Jesus was teaching His disciples (and us) the truth, that if God calls you do to something, He will provide what you need to carry it out.
What causes you to doubt that God can provide for your needs?
What’s one thing you could do the next time your faith is tested to remind you of God’s purposes and provision in testing?
Jesus multiplies resources
Not only does Jesus provide for the people’s needs, but He also provides in abundance. Jesus made sure everybody was full and that there was plenty left over. We have a Heavenly Father that sees our needs and desires to meet them. Think about it. He is the God of the universe with every possible resource at His disposable. How often do we magnify our needs to the point where we think, “How could this be done?” or “There’s no way. It simply isn’t possible.” What Jesus did with the bread and fish is what God does everyday in our lives. You may not notice it, but God is present in your life and reveals Himself as your Provider.
Write down three needs God has met recently in your life and share with the group.
Where would you like to see God multiply resources in your life?
Our greatest need
So what was the sign in this miracle? Simply that Jesus provides for people’s needs like God provided for the needs of the Israelites in the wilderness through Moses. So much of what Jesus did in His ministry pointed back to the Old Testament and God’s relationship with His chosen people, the Israelites. God entered into a special relationship with them and promised to be their Provider. And time after time He proved that He was faithful to carry out what He promised. This sign showed how Jesus was capable of meeting our greatest need – deliverance from the power of sin and death over us. He was the Messiah, the Savior sent to do what we were incapable of doing. That is, to save ourselves.
What’s the most pressing need you see right now in your life?
How does knowing your greatest need (deliverance from the power of sin and death) give you better perspective on your other needs?
Select 1 question from this section to answer.
So what does this story teach us about living the supernatural life? It teaches that we need to depend on and prepare for God’s provision.
First, living the supernatural life is about depending on God to meet all your needs. Many in the crowd that day were only concerned with getting their bellies full. They could have cared less about who Jesus was. But Jesus was showing them so much more! He isn’t like the genie in a bottle. You don’t just pray a need and—poof—He meets it instantly. Life with Jesus meets the soul’s deepest needs. To depend on God is to trust Him to be the One to satisfy the deepest longings of your soul.
What would help you trust God more to meet your needs and satisfy your deepest longings?
Second, be prepared for God to move. If you’re living the supernatural life, you expect God to be present and active in your life. God is moving in our lives, whether we know it or not. As He moves, He asks us to respond to Him. How? Our story this week shows us three easy steps we can take in response. First, give Him what you have. The disciples brought to Jesus all they had. We, too, bring to God all we have. We may think it small, but God can multiply anything we give Him, whether it’s finances, time, resources, talents, etc. Second, do what Jesus says. Obedience is the key to seeing God move in your life. Third, give thanks for what you have. Jesus gave thanks over the bread and fish. He showed gratitude over what they had. It’s remarkable how powerful gratitude can be. He can miraculously turn situations of sorrow and despair into joy and contentment.
What’s one thing you could do this week to show more gratitude?
Follow Jesus’ example by giving thanks to God for all He has given you. Consider the needs He has met in your life, big and small. Take time to reflect on how He has made His presence and provision known to you.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read Philippians 4:10-20 and reflect on what this passage says about God’s provision.
Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their life.
It’s important to note that Passover was taking place when Jesus performed His miracle. Passover looked back at God’s rescuing His people out of slavery in Egypt. But Israel’s salvation was only physical. John points the reader to Jesus as a greater Savior, because Jesus would save people from their sins (a spiritual salvation).1
Getting the numbers right.
How people counted attendance was different in ancient times than today. Most of the time women and children weren’t counted. Therefore, it’s possible that the actual number of people fed by Jesus was over 20,000.2
Moses was one of the most important figures in Judaism. He led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. And it was through Moses that God gave His Law, which governed Israelite life and worship. While the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God provided for their needs through Moses. Later in his life Moses promised that a prophet like him would come after him (Deut. 18:15,18). For the people to identify Jesus as this “Prophet” was a big deal. Later in the New Testament Peter said Jesus fulfilled this prophecy (Acts 3:22-23). The author of Hebrews argues that Jesus is greater than Moses (Heb. 3:1-6), because Moses was just a servant. Jesus is God’s Son.
1. Gerald L. Borchert, John 1–11, vol. 25A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 251.
2. D. A. Carson, “The Gospels and Acts,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 2161.