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The People’s Champ



The Feeding of the Five Thousand is a monumental moment in Jesus’ ministry, and it’s the only miracle recorded in all four of the Gospels. In this talk, Ben Stuart shows us how this miraculous moment reveals the proclamation of the King, the people of the King, and the priorities of the King.

Key Takeaway

In one of the most famous miracles ever recorded, Jesus boldly proclaims who He is, who we are, and what His priority is for us to see.

The miracle we are looking at today is the only one that is recorded in all 4 gospels. The feeding of the 5,000 is a major moment in the ministry of Jesus. He was declaring that there is a true King, and it's not who you think it is. This narrative shouldn't be pictured like it's often portrayed in children's books. This was a revolutionary moment. Don't miss the significance of the symbols.

We will focus on the Proclamation of the King, the People of the King, and the Priorities of the King.

Mark 6:30

The apostles whom Jesus sent out had just returned from letting people know the Kingdom was at hand. Apostles are those that are sent with the authority of the commissioner.

Mark 6:31

Jesus invites them to the wilderness to rest. Jesus has a pattern of entering into the intensity of the city for ministry and retreating to the wilderness for recovery. He is teaching His followers the same thing. This also applies to us today too. Our #1 priority is to be alone with our Father.

Mark 6:32

They all leave on a boat, but they are followed. Notice the 3 uses of "them"; people notice the people who are constantly with Jesus. The best part of ministry is going from "you" to "we".

Mark 6:34

Jesus is trying to get away from the crowd, but they are following Him. He doesn't get mad when He sees them. He has compassion on them. Compassion means that I hurt when you hurt. In Greek, it's splagchnizomai, which means lower intestine. It's a metaphor for a deep feeling, a visceral reaction.

  • He calls them sheep, not warriors. They're like defenseless animals and they have no shepherd. So, Jesus teaches them.
  • Where's the revolution? All throughout the Old Testament, "shepherd" is used as a metaphor for leadership. Moses, David, and Joshua were all shepherds of the people. The political leader was called the shepherd of the people. So Jesus says they are people with no leader or "what I'm about to do is the opposite of King Herod."
  • This is why there is that Herod moment in Mark 6:14-29. It's a flashback. Why would Mark put this right between the apostles being sent out and the feeding of the 5,000? Because it's showing you the Shepherd of the people. Herod Antipas is their "king". Most think that Mark is being ironic here because he's not really named King. His Dad, Herod the Great, got in good with the Romans, so they named him King of the Jews, which is why he was so threatened when the magi came looking for the one BORN the King of the Jews. That's why Herod the Great slaughtered all the males under the age of two. He killed his own kids because he thought they were rivals to his throne. Herod Antipas, who was more than willing to take over for his dad because he wanted money and power, thought he was going to take over when his dad passed away. However, five days before his dad died, he decided to divide his land among his kids, and therefore, Herod Antipas was never named king; he just was over that region.
  • "King" Herod has a party with all the important people around him. There is tension in this moment, though, because John the Baptist ministered in his environment, and he liked him even though John the Baptist called him out. Herod made his brother's wife divorce him and took her as his own wife. That's against God's laws for marriage and John the Baptist wasn't afraid to say it. Herod is perplexed and conflicted because he wanted money, sex, and power and had access to all of that, but he also knew that John the Baptist was a holy and righteous man. John was convicting Herod, but Herod heard him gladly, so he was perplexed. At this party, his wife sees a way to bring his two priorities to a head and make him choose. He has his stepdaughter dance for everyone, which is disgusting. Then he tries to impress his friends and offers her anything she wants. She asks her mom what to do. Her mom, who did not like John the Baptist, told her to ask for his head. Does he spare the holy and righteous man, or because he wants to look good in front of people he believes can give him money, power, and influence, kill him? Holiness or self-indulgence? He immediately calls for his head. Herod is someone who used his power and influence not to serve people, but to exploit people. He's "king" over these people, but he doesn't care about them.
  • The text then flashes forward to Jesus, who is surrounded by desperate and disenfranchised people. He doesn't despise them or use them. Jesus is going to serve them, and in doing so, He's pointing out that He is the True King.

Ezekiel 34:1-5, 11-17

This is the indictment used by Jesus. He promises that He will come and shepherd the people. When David is mentioned in this passage, David had been long dead. Ezekiel was prophesying about the Messiah, Jesus, that comes from David's line.

The Crowd understands this. In John 6:14-15, the people recognize that Jesus is the one prophesied about and they want to make him King by force. Jesus retreats and gets away. He's not a king like Herod, but He's not a revolutionary force they're looking for either. He's building a new type of Kingdom. His revolution isn't weapons of death, He's the Bread of Life. He's not looking to overthrow the government; Jesus is going to change the world. The revolution of Jesus is one of compassion. This is the revolution that we all desperately need: that we would be ruled by love.

Mark 6:35-36

Jesus uses His disciples and brings them in. They identify a problem and propose a solution. Jesus foregoes a reasonable solution and intensifies the "crisis" of people being hungry. They respond with snide comments back because what He is asking is beyond their capacity. Jesus, knowing He is going to solve the problem He created, asks them what they have. They return with 5 loaves and 2 fish. The point is Jesus wants to use inadequate people as part of His work. Jesus is creating a moment where everything depends on Him. Jesus will take you far beyond your capacity so people can see the power and love of God.

Mark 6:39

Jesus has them sit in groups. The mention of green grass is a tip of the hat to Psalm 23 and green pastures.

Mark 6:40

He has them sit in groups of 50 and 100 because that's how Moses had them sit, and Jesus is showing them He's the new Moses, He's the new Shepherd...but He's far beyond what Moses could do.

Mark 6:41

Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fish, said a blessing, broke the loaves, and divided the fish just like a good host would do. They are there because of their need, not because of their importance. He welcomes them all.

Mark 6:42-44

Everyone eats until satisfied with 12 baskets left over. It seems impossible for us to have a revolution of compassion, but that is the point of this miracle. It takes supernatural power and provision. Church should be a place where no one can add up through a band, a team, the preaching, or a venue to make it what it is. God is on the move, God can change hearts, and Gos can do things we can't imagine.

The priority of the King was His Authority. His miracles weren't random. They were Him taking nature as it is and saying He was the Authority over it. He is our provider.

In Mark 6:42-52

Jesus sends His disciples out on a boat and a storm comes on them. He walks out on the water, and they are terrified, thinking He's a ghost. He gets into the boat and commands the wind and waves to calm and it does, and they are amazed, but the Scripture says that it's because they didn't understand the loaves. Had they understood the power in that moment, that this is the God over nature, then why would they be afraid? Don't be quick to judge the disciples. Anxieties rise when past mercies are forgotten. God was faithful then, and He'll be faithful now.

We have a better Moses who will lead His people to the promised land.

We have a better Elijah who will provide for us.

We have a better David who will feed His people.

We have a better Shepherd who will let you lie down in green pastures and restore.

We have the Lord who rules the wind and the waves. He didn't just break bread for the people. His body was broken for us on the Cross. He paid for all our sins. He can be the redeemer of the world because He was the sacrifice of the world. He is the King who is compassionate.


"They (miracles) proclaim that He who has come is not merely a king, but the King: nature's and ours."

C.S Lewis

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Scripture References

  • Mark 6:14-29
  • Mark 6:30-56
  • Ezekiel 34:1-5
  • Ezekiel 34:11-17
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.