I always wondered why the Bible numbered only men in the feeding of the five thousand. The Jewish culture was a patriarchal society, a man-driven culture, but women and children weren’t property. They counted. Jesus loves, forgives, and wants all to be saved, not just men. So why didn’t God count the women and children?
The answer might be found at the end of this account. After Jesus miraculously fed the masses, we’re told, “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:15). The force they were going to use wasn’t against Jesus; it would’ve been against the Romans. One of the toughest parts of sustaining a military campaign against an enemy was feeding your army. They didn’t have to worry about that anymore. They had Jesus’ power!
And they had the numbers to start a revolution. Five thousand men was the size of a Roman legion. By the time they traveled from the Sea of Galilee, those numbers likely would’ve doubled or quadrupled. Plus, it was almost the Passover, so Jerusalem would’ve had an additional 80,000+ loyalist Jews there along with those living in the city already.
But Jesus withdrew. He knew that wasn’t the plan. He came to save the people spiritually, not politically. And he did! Jesus marched into Jerusalem on a different Passover as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Thank you, Jesus, for being the Savior we need!