(This story can also be found in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17. This is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that occurs in all four gospels. We strongly recommend you read all accounts of this story to get a full perspective on it.)
This miracle occurs directly after John the Baptist was beheaded (we learn this in the Matthew and Mark versions of the story). You can use your discretion on whether to tell this part of the story to your students. Jesus' plan was to take his disciples away to a desolate place to recover from this very disturbing development. But at this point in his ministry, Jesus was very popular because of the miracles he was performing. Even though Jesus was trying to get alone with his disciples, Mark 6:34 tells us, "When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things." This shows us the incredible patience and compassion Jesus has for us!
So Jesus was teaching and the day wore on. It was getting late and the crowd was getting hungry. Jesus was trying to get to a desolate place, so they weren't anywhere near a source of food for 5,000 men (and uncounted women and children). When they began talking about how to solve this problem, Jesus challenged his disciples to figure it out. They were stumped. They suggested Jesus just send them home since it would take more than 200 days' wages to feed them. They only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish from a boy in the crowd. Surely it wouldn't even be worth giving that out. It would probably just start a riot!
But Jesus told them to have everyone sit down. They had enough faith to obey him, and they started distributing food. We don't know exactly how the miracle occurred, but we know that when they were done distributing food and eating, they gathered up 12 baskets full of bread left over.
The people were amazed at this miracle, and Jesus knew that they planned to try and make him King of Israel by force. That wasn't his plan, so he withdrew to a mountain to be alone - this time where no one could find him...
get your kids talking and engaged
What is your favorite meal? What would you do if you came to church and you were fed bread and fish for a snack?
(Consider doing the "Bread and Sardines Picnic" reinforcement activity below now)
Today, we're going to learn about a time when Jesus and his disciples had to feed over 5000 people, and the only food they had was 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
teach a holistic story
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.
give them basic Bible skills
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: John 6:5-15
make sure they understand the story
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?
help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
hide God's Word in their heartDon’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him. Philippians 4:6
Option 1: Guess the Price
Option 2: Higher or Lower (better for younger students)