Five Loaves of Bread

Fish on a back road in the Republic of  Congo  - 2010
Fish on a back road in the Republic of Congo – 2010

Today, I would like to elaborate on the theme of faith by looking at the story in John chapter 6 where Jesus is teaching and healing among a crowd of around 5000 persons who have followed him to a hill by the Sea of Galilee. Knowing the people are hungry, Jesus singles out Philip and asks him about feeding the multitude. Philip is overwhelmed and does not respond. Andrew takes the initiative and mentions that there is a boy with five loaves of barley bread and two fish.

Congo girl watching a man receive a bandage
Congo girl watching a man receive a bandage

Think for a moment about what is going on. Philip and the other disciples have anticipated the need and concern of Jesus to feed the crowd. They are on the same page as Jesus. It is important to be on the same page as Jesus. Even though they are in sync with Jesus, they still need Jesus because they are overwhelmed.

Like the disciples, you and I should always try to be in sync with the will of Jesus. Why do you think the boy came forward with bread and fish? Perhaps his parents put him up to responding to the request of the disciples. In responding to the need, the boy becomes both a follower and a leader in faith. He follows the disciples, but demonstrates leadership among the crowd. Some have maintained that the real miracle that Jesus performed that day was to use the faith of the boy to motivate the crowd to share what they had already brought to the hill.

I heard the late Rev. Cameron Byrd preach that when the people witnessed the faith of the boy they came up from under their long robes with fried chicken, barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese, greens, corn bread, black eyed peas and much more! As you consider this story from the life and ministry of Jesus, ask yourself, “Who am I like in this story: Jesus, Philip, and Andrew, the boy, the parents of the boy or the crowd?

John 6: One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What does this story from the life of Jesus tell you about faith?
  2. How is the response of the boy both an example of following and leading?
  3. Who are you like in this story: Philip, Andrew, the boy, the parents of the boy, the crowd, or Jesus?



Lord, help me not to become overwhelmed with the odds in my life. Help me to look beyond the size and multitude of my challenges and help me to realize the potential, strengths and attributes you have put within the palm of my hands. Lord, make me unashamed to ask for help. Lord, make me unrestrained in my response to human need. Lord, grant me compassion. Lord, grant me a sense of generosity. Lord, teach me to share. Lord, help me to trust in what I cannot see, walk when I do not know where the path will lead, to stretch and share when I am tempted to be stingy. Lord, help me to know when to lead and when to follow. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.


Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photos by Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Hood III at

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Book cover
Book cover