12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost. 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!
Remember that old Wendy’s commercial where you have three elderly women inspecting this hamburger with a massive bun? They remove the top of the bun to reveal a tiny hamburger patty that’s almost too small for a “slider.” Then the most outspoken of the three utters that classic line, “Where’s the beef?!”
I know the workings of my mind are a tad off, but that’s what comes to mind when I read this passage of scripture. You see, bread wasn’t all that was miraculously divided over and over that day, was it? And yet, that’s all that the leftovers consisted of according to John. WHERE’S THE FISH?!
Did folks just chow down more on the fish, leaving no leftovers? Well, if you glance over at the Gospel According to Peter—otherwise known as the Gospel of Mark because Mark was the scribe recording the words of Peter—you’ll read the following:
42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and they picked up the broken pieces and fish that were left over, twelve baskets full.
So there were fishy leftovers! And boy, you know what it’s like to take such leftovers in your car and the “aroma” that you get to enjoy for the next couple of days. Can you imagine hauling twelve baskets of the stuff?
However, John doesn’t mention the fish. He was focused on the bread, the broken bread.
John was already beginning to foreshadow for his readers what was coming. The One who broke five barley loaves into enough pieces to feed 5,000 was Himself the Bread of Life who would soon be broken into enough pieces to pay for the sins of the world.
When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!
Jesus Himself distributed the bread and fish. The folks who were fed—far exceeding 5,000 given that that was just the number of the men present—witnessed this as well as the fact that there was more food leftover than the amount with which they started.
As a result, they believed that Jesus was the Prophet who would come spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18. John was big on the word “sign.” He made it clear that Jesus’ divine claim—that He was the Son of God—was confirmed because of the miracles He performed. They were “signs” proving He was telling the truth.
There were are a lot of people who witnessed this sign (and were filled to the brim as a result); however, there were even more people in that day who missed it. The same is true of nonbelievers today. They can’t go back and witness this amazing sign confirming the gospel of Jesus. That’s where you and I come in!
Have you partaken of the Bread of Life? Have you believed the gospel and received the gift of eternal life? If so, that makes YOU a sign too! Your changed life and my changed life is a sign to the world that Jesus’ claim to be the God-Man who takes away the sin of the world is still true!
They’ll have to go to Wendy’s for their fish sandwich. 😉