Feeding the Multitude | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
August 2017

Feeding the Multitude

By Neal Bowes

What happens when a miracle of Jesus takes place in your own hands? That was the experience of the disciples in this passage, and what we will help students process in this lesson.

Warm Up Questions

-Have you ever seen something that you can’t explain? What happened?

-When is a time that you were really hungry? Why had you not eaten?

-What do you usually do when you hear bad news?


King Herod had ordered the beheading of John the Baptist, a faithful servant of God whom many considered to be a prophet, and a relative of Jesus. (Luke 1:36) Upon hearing the news, Jesus withdraws, seeking a place to be alone. Jesus often sought out a secluded place where he could be alone to pray.

By this time, Jesus had earned quite a reputation because of his many healings and other miracles. So when the people heard that he was crossing the lake in a boat, they ran ahead and were waiting as he came ashore. Casting aside his own grief and concerns, he had compassion on the people and began healing the sick among them.

As it became late in the day, the disciples realized that the people had nothing to eat and suggested that Jesus disperse the people so that they could go to a nearby village and buy themselves some food. Such a plan would have been disastrous for the village. Being that most in the crowd came from the other side of the lake, no village would have enough supplies for a sudden onslaught of 15,000 people (5000 men, plus woman and children, Matthew 14:21).

The disciples themselves had only scant supplies. They could only find five loaves of bread and two small fish. The bread loaves were likely as big around as a small dinner plate and less than an inch thick. The fish were most likely dried or pickled.

Jesus gave thanks over the food and handed it to the disciples to distribute. The miracle happened in their hands as they gave out the pieces. This scene of people miraculously receiving food in the wilderness is certainly reminiscent of the Hebrews in the wilderness with Moses, as they were fed by manna which fell from the sky.

When all had eaten, each disciple filled a basket with the leftovers, a reminder that we should never waste what God has provided.


Matthew 14:13-21

Discussion Questions

-How does Jesus react when he hears the news about John the Baptist?

-Why, do you think, did he want to be alone?

-Do you have a quiet place where you can spend time with God?

-How does Jesus react to his solitude being disturbed?

-How, do you think, did the disciples feel when they saw that the crowd wanted Jesus to get back to work?

-What is the lesson to be learned here (about putting others first)?

-What did the disciples suggest as a solution to the crowd’s hunger?

-What, do you think, were the disciples thinking when Jesus told them to give the people something to eat?

-What food did the disciples have available?

-How, do you think, did the disciples feel when they realized that Jesus intended to feed all those people with just that little bit of food?

-What happened?

-Who performed the miracle here, Jesus or the disciples? (Jesus performed the miracle, but allowed it to happen in the disciples’ hands.)

-Why is it important that we know that they gathered up the leftovers?

-What, do you think, is the most important lesson in this story?

Related Scripture

-Exodus 16

-1 Kings 17:8-16

-2 Kings 4:42-44

Wrap Up Questions

-Why, do you think, does God perform miracles?

-What is especially important about the food-providing miracles in the Bible?

-Do miracles still happen?

-Where have you seen a miracle?

Sending Forth

Jesus put his own concerns aside and was compassionate on the crowd that had gathered. This week, in what ways can you show compassion on the people you see?

Closing Prayer

Oh God, our Creator and Sustainer, we thank you for the many ways in which you provide for us. We also thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, as a role model for us. Help us to follow His lead in thinking of others first. Help us to be compassionate. Help us to feel Your presence. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Neal has had the privilege of being in ministry with the youth at Jesse Lee for the last 15 years. He also works through the New York Annual Conference to train and support volunteer youth workers in local churches. He loves speaking at youth gatherings--group retreats or conference-wide events. www.NealBowes.com