There is a lad here - Παιδαριον, a little boy, or servant, probably one who carried the apostles' provisions, or who came on purpose to sell his bread and fish.
Five barley loaves - Barley scarcely bore one-third of the value of wheat in the east: see Revelation 6:6. That it was a very mean fare appears from Ezekiel 13:19, where the false prophetesses are said to pollute the name of God for handfuls of barley, i.e. for the meanest reward. And Plutarch, in Apoph. p. 174, speaking concerning the flight of Artaxerxes Mnemon, says he was reduced to such distress as to be obliged to eat barley bread. See Kypke. From this and other circumstances we may plainly perceive that the self-denying doctrine preached by Christ and his apostles was fully exemplified in their own manner of living.
Two small fishes - Δυο οψαρια . The word of οψαριον signifies whatever is eaten with bread, to perfect the meal, or to make it easy of deglutition, or to help the digestion. There is no word in the English language for it, which is a great defect. The inhabitants of Scotland, and of the north and north-west of Ireland, use the word kytshen, by which they express what ever is eaten with bread or potatoes, as flesh, fish, butter, milk, eggs, etc., no satisfactory etymology of which word I am able to offer. In the parallel places in the other three evangelists, instead of οψαρια, ιχθυας is used; so that the word evidently means fish in the text of St. John: see on John 21:5; (note).
The lesson is for God's children in every age. When the Lord gives a work to be done, let not men stop to inquire into the reasonableness of the command or the probable result of their efforts to obey. The supply in their hands may seem to fall short of the need to be filled; but in the hands of the Lord it will prove more than sufficient. The servitor “set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the Lord.” PK 243.1
A fuller sense of God's relationship to those whom He has purchased with the gift of His Son, a greater faith in the onward progress of His cause in the earth—this is the great need of the church today. Let none waste time in deploring the scantiness of their visible resources. The outward appearance may be unpromising, but energy and trust in God will develop resources. The gift brought to Him with thanksgiving and with prayer for His blessing, He will multiply as He multiplied the food given to the sons of the prophets and to the weary multitude. PK 243.2Read in context »
Parents and teachers should aim so to cultivate the tendencies of the youth that at each stage of life they may represent the beauty appropriate to that period, unfolding naturally, as do the plants in the garden. Ed 107.1
The little ones should be educated in childlike simplicity. They should be trained to be content with the small, helpful duties and the pleasures and experiences natural to their years. Childhood answers to the blade in the parable, and the blade has a beauty peculiarly its own. Children should not be forced into a precocious maturity, but as long as possible should retain the freshness and grace of their early years. The more quiet and simple the life of the child—the more free from artificial excitement and the more in harmony with nature—the more favorable it is to physical and mental vigor and to spiritual strength. Ed 107.2
In the Saviour's miracle of feeding the five thousand is illustrated the working of God's power in the production of the harvest. Jesus draws aside the veil from the world of nature and reveals the creative energy that is constantly exercised for our good. In multiplying the seed cast into the ground, He who multiplied the loaves is working a miracle every day. It is by miracle that He constantly feeds millions from earth's harvest fields. Men are called upon to co-operate with Him in the care of the grain and the preparation of the loaf, and because of this they lose sight of the divine agency. The working of His power is ascribed to natural causes or to human instrumentality, and too often His gifts are perverted to selfish uses and made a curse instead of a blessing. God is seeking to change all this. He desires that our dull senses shall be quickened to discern His merciful kindness, that His gifts may be to us the blessing that He intended. Ed 107.3Read in context »
Christ had retired to a secluded place with His disciples, but this rare season of peaceful quietude was soon broken. The disciples thought they had retired where they would not be disturbed; but as soon as the multitude missed the divine Teacher, they inquired, “Where is He?” Some among them had noticed the direction in which Christ and His disciples had gone. Many went by land to meet them, while others followed in their boats across the water. The Passover was at hand, and, from far and near, bands of pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem gathered to see Jesus. Additions were made to their number, until there were assembled five thousand men besides women and children. Before Christ reached the shore, a multitude were waiting for Him. But He landed unobserved by them, and spent a little time apart with the disciples. DA 364.1Read in context »
All day the people had thronged the steps of Christ and His disciples as He taught beside the sea. They had listened to His gracious words, so simple and so plain that they were as the balm of Gilead to their souls. The healing of His divine hand had brought health to the sick and life to the dying. The day had seemed to them like heaven on earth, and they were unconscious of how long it had been since they had eaten anything. MH 45.1
The sun was sinking in the west, and yet the people lingered. Finally the disciples came to Christ, urging that for their own sake the multitude should be sent away. Many had come from far and had eaten nothing since morning. In the surrounding towns and villages they might be able to obtain food. But Jesus said, “Give ye them to eat.” Matthew 14:16. Then, turning to Philip, He questioned, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” John 6:5. MH 45.2Read in context »
Your weekly seasons of prayer will not qualify any one of you for your great and solemn responsibilities, if, after these seasons, you feel that your work is done, and, having looked into the great moral looking glass, you go away and forget what manner of man you were. It is not merely one day of service that will suffice for the soul's need. You must be constantly coming to the storehouse to feed on the flesh and blood of the Son of God. Religion is not to be cheapened in 1896 or 1897. TM 344.1
Those who are partakers of the divine nature are to come out from worldly influences, from empty festivities, and sit down with Christ, in heart communion with their Redeemer. Cease your unbelieving worry. When the anxious disciples saw the hungry multitudes beside the sea, impossibilities arose in their minds, and they questioned, Shall we go to the villages and buy, to give them to eat? Just so in the several conferences many now ask, Shall we send to Battle Creek for someone to come and hold meetings with us and revive us and feed us? What said Christ? No. He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass in companies of fifty and one hundred. They obeyed orders, seating themselves in long lines on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fishes out of the hands of the lad, and, looking up to His Father, He asked His blessing upon the meager supply. Then He put into the hands of His disciples the food to be distributed. The scanty provision grew under the hand of Christ, and He had constantly a fresh supply for His servants to distribute to the hungry multitude, until all had a sufficiency. Then the word came, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” There was a surplus of food gathered up. TM 344.2Read in context »