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John: Chapter 6

 

By: Steve Shirley

     "Christ Feeds The 5000." Let's begin by reading about this event in (Jn 6:1-14).

     This is the only miracle of Jesus that is mentioned in all 4 of the Gospels (also see: Mt 14:13-21, Mk 6:31-44, Lk 9:11-17). While not recorded in the books of John or Luke, shortly after this, Jesus performs a similar miracle by feeding 4000 (Mt 15:29-39)(Mk 8:1-10).

     (Verse 1) "After the things" Quoting from the John MacArthur Study Bible: "A large gap of time may exist between chaps. 5 and 6. If the feast in 5:1 is Tabernacles, then at least 6 months passed (Oct. to Apr.). If the feast of 5:1 is Passover, then a year passed between these chapters.

***Trivia Note: The "Sea of Tiberias" is another name for the "Sea of Galilee."

     (Verse 2) "a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased." Tying this to verse 26, it seems clear that people were following Jesus not out of belief, but because of what He could do for them.

     (Verse 4) "the Passover, a feast of the Jews" This is the 2nd Passover mentioned during Jesus' time on earth in the book of John. As we mentioned in our study of John Chapter 2, looking at the Passovers that were celebrated can give us the approximate length of Jesus' earthly ministry. The first Passover started His ministry (Jn 2:13), this (Jn 6:4) is the 2nd Passover, and the last Passover was right before His death (Jn 11:55). Thus, His ministry would have been about 3 years.

 

     (Verses 5-6) "Where shall we buy bread... But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do." Jesus asked questions over and over in the Gospels (and God did as well throughout the Bible). Why did they do this if they already knew the answers. I discuss this at length here: https://jesusalive.cc/ques514.htm, however, in short, here are 4 main reasons:

#1. Perhaps the primary reason why God / Jesus asked people questions is because He was trying to get people to examine themselves in some way. He wanted people to examine their thoughts, words, actions, motives, and hearts. He wanted people to realize there was something wrong in their relationship with Him (see: Ps 7:9). He wanted them to confess this problem, confront it, be sorry for it, and repent (see: Ps 32:1-5).

#2. God / Jesus asked some questions to get people to think, and to foster their spiritual growth.

#3. Many of God's (and Jesus') questions are rhetorical. A rhetorical question is "a question asked merely for effect, with no answer expected" (Webster's Dictionary). "A rhetorical question is a question someone asks without expecting an answer. The question might not have an answer, or it might have an obvious answer" (yourdictionary.com).

#4. I also believe God's (and Jesus') questions in the Bible had a secondary purpose, and that was to benefit the readers of Scripture. God, in His omniscience knew exactly what would be a part of Scripture, and His questions often help us to more fully understand the things He wants us to know.

 

     (Verse 10) "5000 men" This number did not include women and children. The total number of people was likely at least 3 times higher.

     (Verse 11) "when He had given thanks" This is one of 5 verses in the Bible (that I could find) where Jesus "gives thanks to the Father" (also see: Mt 11:25, Jn 11:41, Lk 22:17,19).

     (Verse 13) "twelve baskets with the fragments" The number "12" is an important number in the Bible, and it is used numerous times (the words "twelve" and "twelfth" are used 212 times). This number, along with 3, 7, and 10, is generally said to symbolize perfection or completion.

     (Verse 14)(NASB) "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world." As we mentioned in our study on Chapter 1 (Jn 1:21,25), "the Prophet" was an Old Testament prophecy found in (Deut 18:15-18) which pointed to Jesus. (See: Jn 7:40, Acts 3:19-26 for similar uses).

 

     "Christ Walks On The Water" Next, let's read (Jn 6:15-21).

     (Verse 15) "Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king." Why was this a problem?

 

     (Verses 16-21) This "fascinating" event is also mentioned in (Mt 14:22-33) and (Mk 6:45-52). We must look at all 3 accounts to get a complete picture. (You might need some bookmarks here.)

     (Verse 16-17) "his disciples went down unto the sea, (17) And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum." We learn in (Mt 14:22-23) that Jesus told them to do this, while "He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray."

     (Verse 19)(NASB) "Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened." We learn in (Mt 14:25) that this was "in the fourth watch of the night," or between 3:00 - 6:00 a.m. We also learn in (Mt 14:26) that the reason they were "frightened" is because they thought they were seeing a "ghost."

     (Verse 20-21) Jesus tells them who He is, He gets into the boat, and "immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going." This also sounds like a miracle.

     Notice what is missing in John and Mark? Peter walking on the water! As we have spoken of before, John likely wrote his Gospel to "supplement" things missing in the other Gospels (the "synoptics"). This is likely why we don't have the account of Peter here. However, why isn't it in Mark? This is "interesting!"

     While not entirely provable, here is what many scholars (and I) believe. Mark was Peter's protege and friend. In fact, it is believed that Peter probably helped Mark write this Gospel. While Peter's attempt to walk on water was bold, because of his lack of "faith' ("O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Mt 14:31), he started to drown, and Jesus had to save him. This is a bit embarrassing, right? It is also probably why it isn't included in Mark. (This is one of a number of examples where we see the personalities of the authors reflected in the Gospels.)

 

     "I Am The Bread Of Life." Now, let's read (Jn 6:22-59).

     (Verses 26-29) In Verses 22-25, we see that after Jesus fed the 5000, and left that night, the people searched for Him the next day. In Verses 26 and 27, Jesus knows that they "labored" to find Him only because of the food which He provided. He tells them not to "labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life." In Verse 28, we see that the people thought Jesus meant that they needed to do some "work" to have everlasting life. In Verse 29, Jesus tells them that the only "work" they needed to do to have "everlasting life" was to "believe in Him whom He sent."

 

     (Verses 30-34) Having seen the miracle Jesus had just performed when He fed the 5000, they wanted another miracle. In fact, they wanted a bigger miracle, equal to what Moses did when he fed ALL of the Israelites with manna for 40 years (Ex 16:11-36), so that they could believe.

     As with almost everything in the Old Testament, the "manna / bread that came from Heaven" pointed to Jesus, who is the "true bread from heaven.

 

     (Verse 35) "I am the bread of life" This is the first of 7 key "I AM" statements (metaphor's describing Himself) by Jesus in the Book of John. Let's look at the others: (Jn 8:12)(Jn 10:7,9)(Jn 10:11,14)(Jn 11:25)(Jn 14:6)(Jn 15:1,5).

 

     (Verses 37 & 39) (37) "the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out," (39) "all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day." These verses both point to the "eternal security" of a Christian.

 

     (Verses 38-40) As we previously mentioned in Chapter 5 (5:30), the primary desire of Jesus was to do the "will of the Father" (also see: Mt 26:39-42)(Jn 4:34)(Jn 14:31)(Jn 15:10). This should be our primary desire as well. A good thing to remember in prayer is "to try and conform our will to God's will, not to make God to conform to our will."

 

     (Verse 41-42) "The Jews" believed that the father of Jesus was Joseph. However, Jesus was "conceived by the Holy Spirit" (Lk 1:31-35). Because they did not understand the "virgin birth" of Jesus, they failed to recognize who Jesus was (God in flesh), and where He came from (Heaven).

 

     (Verse 44) "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." I believe this to be a key verse in the New Testament, and SO MUCH can be said about it. However, I simply want to focus on 3 points:

#1. First, who does the Father draw? ALL men! God desires that ALL would be saved (1 Tim 2:3-4)(2 Pet 3:9)(Ezek 18:23,32)(Titus 2:11)(Mt 18:14). The New Testament uses the word "whosoever" in 16 verses in connection with salvation in Jesus: i.e. (Rom 10:11,13)(Jn 3:15-16)(Acts 2:21)(Mt 10:32)(Jn 4:13-14).

#2. Second, while the Father does draw all men, we cannot always know when He is drawing a certain person. When we share the Gospel with an unbeliever, if the Father is not drawing that person, they cannot accept it. However, we should not become discouraged, or think that we wasted our time. We may have "sown seeds" which could lead to that person's salvation in the future (see: Jn 4:35-38).

#3. Third, in speaking of "sowing seeds," we must realize that VERY few people come to Christ the very first time they hear the Gospel. The way to "salvation" is usually paved with a number of "seed sowers." The Bible is clear that God's will (drawing) can be resisted: (Jn 5:40, Mt 23:37, Acts 7:51, 2 Th 2:10-12, 2 Th 1:8-9), and many people do just that (I did). However, there may come a time when the Father is "drawing," the unbeliever stops "resisting," and someone sharing the Gospel is able to "reap" what has been "sown" by others, and lead that unbeliever to salvation.

 

     (Verse 51) "the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" Notice the "I shall." This is pointing to His future death on the cross.

     (Verse 52) The Jews again failed to understand the deeper spiritual meaning behind the words of Jesus.

     (Verses 53-54) "and drink His blood" Almost certainly the Jews were thinking of God's command in the Old Testament that they were never to consume the blood of any living thing (Lev 7:26)(Lev 17:10-12). An Israelite was to be "cut off from his people" if he did (Lev 7:26)(Lev 17:10). What they failed to realize is that the reason God gave this prohibition in the Old Testament is because the blood pointed forward to the blood that Jesus would shed for our sins.

***Note: While there is not a direct correlation to the Lord's Supper, we obviously see something similar thing here.

 

     Finally, let's read (Jn 6:60-71).

 

     (Verses 60-67) When you look at these verses, what stands out to you about the "disciples" of Jesus?

 

     (Verses 68-69) Peter's amazing confession! "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." They realized He was the Messiah!

     (Verses 70-71) However, in using the words "WE (the 12) have come to believe," Jesus corrects Peter, and plainly says that not ALL of the 12 "believe," for one "is a devil." That "one" is Judas Iscariot, who would later betray Him (Mt 26:14-16,47-56)(Lk 22:3-6,47-53).