In his gospel, John gives the account of one of Jesus’ most astounding miracles. Even most unbelievers can tell you this story because it’s so widely known.
But the truth is, this great miracle took place because of one small boy’s simple decision to give his lunch away instead of keeping it for himself.
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberius. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. John 6:1-4
This was probably the largest crowd Jesus had ever attracted during the course of His ministry, and the Greek text indicates that this crowd was continuing to grow as the people followed Jesus wherever He went. Why? Because they saw His miracles!
The Greek word for “miracles” here is semeion, which indicates signs and wonders and creative miracles. In other words, these miracles didn’t just involve the healing of headaches or the opening of deaf ears. These were spectacular, creative miracles — such as eyes forming in sockets where previously there were no eyes, limbs growing where previously there were no limbs, and bones and joints forming where previously there were none.
When Jesus finally hiked up the mountain with the 12 disciples to get some rest and relaxation, the people followed Him — and the crowd continued to grow. The Bible says that the feast of Passover was beginning the next day; therefore, many Jewish families from all over the world were converging on Jerusalem — and, coincidentally, were traveling right by the mountain where Jesus was sitting.
By this time, Jesus’ miracle ministry was in full operation, and the news of His miracles was spreading through Jewish circles like wildfire. Consequently, as Jesus reclined and relaxed with His disciples, He “lifted up his eyes” and saw a massive multitude of people climbing up the mountainside to see Him.
Later in this passage of Scripture, John tells us that 5,000 men were present (v.10). However, when women and children are also considered, some Bible scholars estimate that the crowd numbered 20,000 people or more!