What the people surrounding Jesus must have felt like during this time in John’s Gospel. They had heard about the wedding feast where Jesus changed water to wine. They heard of the healings surrounding Jesus’ ministry. They had witnessed Jesus feed thousands of people. Then, they heard his disciples say Jesus walked most of the way to where they are now; across the Sea of Galilee. All these people are excited and following Jesus like He is some type of traveling road show. It’s like they are waiting for Jesus to pull another rabbit out of a hat, or do something supernatural so they can be amazed and blessed.
Maybe they are thinking, “Well, he fed us yesterday, let’s see what is on the menu today or see how he can bless us in another way. Then Jesus takes a sudden turn and goes from traveling miracle worker, to a Rabbi teaching deep spiritual truth.
To paraphrase what Jesus initially told them. ‘Look, you are following me for the miracles, to get something that will satisfy your flesh but you are missing the point.’
“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” John 6:27 (KJV)
Reading the crowds response to that, I don’t think they understood a thing Jesus said. Perhaps they were thinking as many think nowadays, ‘Well, he is talking about us working, so this is the money talk that had to come sooner or later. Jesus needs a living, so now we have to break out our checkbooks and give toward his expanding ministry with a gift, but we’re NOT going to share ANYTHING with Him materially, because He just wants to get rich, and I work hard for MY money!’
Chapter 6: John 6
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
Read John 6:1-15.
Matthew, another of Jesus’ disciples, tells us more about this miracle in chapter 14 of his gospel. Jesus and His disciples had gone to a lonely place to get away from the crowds. But the people followed Him, taking their sick with them so that He would heal them. And Jesus did heal them. Jesus had compassion on the people. It was late. Everyone was hungry and there was no place to get anything to eat.
Jesus taught us many lessons by what He did next. He let us see that God is interested in us and in our needs. And He showed us that he can take care of our needs.
The word here translated “loaves” means very small loaves or buns. The five buns of bread and two small fish were just a good lunch for a hungry boy. But the Master asked for the bread and fish, and the boy let Him have it all. With Jesus’ blessing this lunch became enough for the 5,000 men to eat all they wanted. And the boy didn’t go hungry after all! He had all he could eat. We never lose by giving what we have to God. He always gives back to us more than what we give to Him.
It was after Jesus thanked God for what He had that the food was multiplied. As we thank God for what He has given us, He makes it enough to meet our needs.
The disciples, too, helped in the miracle. As they received the broken food from Jesus’ hands, it grew and multiplied to meet the need. The Word of God is sometimes called bread and meat. As we share His Word with others, God blesses it and makes it satisfy spiritually hungry persons.
Jesus always did things in an orderly way. He organized everything so that the great crowd could be fed without confusion. Then He had the disciples gather up what was left over, teaching that we should not be wasteful.
The people were excited by this miracle. The Messiah that God had promised to send them was going to be a prophet like Moses. Moses had prayed and God had given the people food called manna in the wilderness.
Jesus, too, had miraculously fed a great crowd in the wilderness. He must be the Prophet, the Messiah. They wanted to make Him King.
But Jesus had not come to overthrow the Roman government and become the ruler of His country. He had come to overthrow the power of sin in those who wanted to live right. He would become the Lord and King of many lives, but His kingdom was spiritual, not political. The people could not understand this, so He had to leave them.
Jesus Walks on the Water
Read John 6:16-21.
Going back across Lake Galilee, the disciples were afraid because a storm was about to make their boat sink. Jesus walked on the water to them and got into the boat to save them. Who can walk on the water or stop a storm? Can any ordinary man? Jesus can do anything because He is the Son of God.
Having Jesus in the boat was like having Jesus in our lives. With Him we are safe from the storms of trouble. He takes away the fear and gives us peace. David, a songwriter in Bible times, wrote:
“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 34:6 (KJV)
The People Seek Jesus
Read John 6:22-24.
Jesus was very popular. The crowds followed Him wherever He went. They thought that He was just the kind of person they needed for a king. With His miracle power He could heal all the sick. He would feed them and they wouldn’t have to work!
At that time Jesus’ home was in the city of Capernaum on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The crowd that had wanted to make Him leader in a revolutionary movement followed Him there. But Jesus would not consider their offer. Later on His enemies accused Him of trying to stir up a revolution, but all the people knew how foolish that charge was.
Jesus the Bread of Life
Read John 6:25-59.
Jesus taught that God wants people to believe in Him.
“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29 (KJV)
They wanted Jesus to feed them manna. Jesus let them know that He had something better for them than manna. He was the Bread of Life that God had sent down from heaven.
Some of the people were angry when Jesus said that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. This is another example of figurative language. Jesus meant that the people had to take Him into their lives just as they took food into their bodies. Food gave them physical life. He would give them eternal life.
At a later time Jesus gave His disciples bread and wine and told them that these represented His body and His blood. He told them to remember His death for them every time they ate together in this way. And so today we have what we call the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion. Taking communion does not save anyone. In fact, the Bible warns against taking communion unless you are first saved from sin.
The Words of Eternal Life
Read John 6:60-71.
Some of those who start out to follow Jesus today get offended and turn away from Him. Jesus asked the disciples if they would leave Him. Peter said, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.” It is very important for us to understand the truth of what Peter said.
We must know Jesus to have eternal life, not just know about Him. You may know about the chief ruler of your country but not know him personally. Many persons know about Jesus without knowing Him personally as their Savior.
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3 (KJV)
Do you know Jesus as your own Savior? If not, you need to pray right now, confessing your sins and asking God to save you. Your hope of salvation must be, not in what you have done, but in what Jesus has done for you.
Take the quiz
Now please answer a few questions.
1. Read John 6:2 and fill in the blanks. “A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his ________ as he healed the sick.
b) Miraculous signs
2. What miracle did Jesus do with a boy’s five loaves and two fish?
a) He made enough food for the 12 disciples to eat.
b) He made 12 baskets full of food.
c) He made enough food to feed 5000 men.
3. What did the people want to do after Jesus fed them?
a) Repent of their sins and be saved.
b) Crown Jesus king of their country.
c) Accept Jesus as their spiritual ruler.
4. Where was Jesus’ home then?
a) In Capernaum on the Mediterranean Sea.
b) In Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee.
c) In Nazareth.
5. What did Jesus mean when He said, “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life?”
a) The people really had to eat His flesh.
b) The people had to drink His real blood.
c) The people had to take Him into their lives just like they took food when they ate.
6. What is the purpose of Holy Communion?
a) It is to save us from sin.
b) It is to show that we are members of the church.
c) It is to represent the body and the blood of Jesus; believers take Communion to remember Jesus’ death.
7. What did Peter say?
a) “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”
b) “Lord, this teaching is too hard.”
c) “Lord, how can you give us your flesh to eat?”
8. What must you, yourself, do to be saved?
a) You must believe that Jesus died for you and accept Him as your Savior.
b) You must know about Jesus by hearing something about Him.
c) You must get a good grade on this study course.