Saturday, March 16, 2013

John 6 - Feeding the 5,000, Walking on Water, and The Bread of Life

Christ feeding the multitudeLINK: John 6

BACKGROUND

This is an action-packed chapter. It is 71 verses, but it is really only about 10 minutes of reading.  There is so much here. Enjoy!


96. Jesus feeds 5,000: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-13

This is the only miracle recorded in all four accounts of the gospel. The book of John records this event as the fourth sign (sēmeionattesting miracle) that points to Jesus as the Messiah. It was more than 5,000 people. It was really closer to 15,000-20,000 people when the women and children are counted. The amount that would have been needed to feed all those people would have been eight months of wages! How exciting for that little boy to see Jesus multiply his food!

After this sign, the people recognized Jesus as the Prophet promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15. Moses had led them out of Egyptian bondage and fed them manna from heaven. Jesus had fed them bread and would lead them out of Roman bondage. Consequently, the people wanted to seize Jesus and make Him King. Jesus has reached the pinnacle of His popularity with the multitudes. Jesus was the rightful King (Psalm 2:7-12; Daniel 7:13-14), but He could not become the Lion (Revelation 5:5) without first becoming the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). That is why He needed to explain the deeper meaning behind meeting their physical hunger by explaining that He was the Bread of Life in John 6:22-40. Matthew's gospel does not provide an explanation. That is why it is good to cross-reference with other gospel accounts. 


http://www.bible-history.com

To avoid the people seizing Him (John 6:14-15), He sent the disciples on a boat to Bethsaida (Mark 6:45-46) and sent the multitudes away (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:45) before He withdrew by Himself to the mountain. I do love to see Jesus taking time to be alone in the busy and hectic pace of His life. That is a model for us to follow!


After spending some time alone, Jesus performed the fifth sign (attesting miracle) in the book of John that points to Jesus as the Messiah: He walked on the water (between 3 and 6 am), and the disciples were afraid, but we hear "do not be afraid" (which is echoed throughout the Bible) from Jesus. The Matthew account of this event records Peter coming out and walking on the water before he was frightened by the wind. This was followed by a rebuke about Peter's "little faith" (Matthew 14:28-31). Contrast this with the "great faith" of the Gentile Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10). Since Matthew is writing to the Jews, I believe he put this section in there to point out that faith was more important than their Jewish heritage.

99. Jesus is the true bread from heaven: John 6:22-40

The next day Jesus uses the event of feeding the 5,000 to explain what truly fills: Himself, the Bread of Life.  The gospel of John is unique in that he tries to prove that Jesus is God in the flesh, born to die as a sacrifice for our sin, and by believing we might have life in His name (John 20:31). He does this by including the seven "I am" statements by Jesus (see introduction to the book of John HERE), and this is the first of those statements.  Jesus started this with "truly, truly/I tell you the truth" (6:26). This means literally, "Amen, Amen." He uses it 25 times in the book of John, and it is not in any of the other gospel accounts. In this particular discourse, He uses it four times (6:26, 32, 47, 53). He does it to call attention to important affirmations. This is the seventh time He has done that.

Jesus rebukes them for not seeing the spiritual significance behind the miraculous signs He performed. The crux of the message was that physical food is only temporary but spiritual food lasts into eternity. I think of what He told Satan during the temptation in the wilderness, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus was saying that He would not only give this spiritual food but that He WAS that food (John 6:53)! The people asking wanted to DO something for this, but He said they only needed to believe on the One that the Father sent; the bread that provides life everlasting! Seeing did not necessarily equate with believing for them. 

100. The people disagree that Jesus is from heaven: John 6:41-59

Jesus' claims as the Bread of Life from heaven causes murmuring among the Jews. How could Joseph's son talk this way? Last night, in our study of John 6, people asked, "Wouldn't they have known about the virgin birth?  Why would they think of Him as only Joseph's son?" We surmised that maybe they did not know He was born in Bethlehem. Perhaps the story was lost when the toddler returned from Egypt and moved to Nazareth.  One woman said, "Eat His flesh. Drink His blood. I probably would have thought He was crazy too!" It is easier for us to understand what He meant with the whole of Scripture at our disposal, but these Jews did not know what He was talking about and had preconceived notions about what the Messiah would do for them. He was blowing their misconceptions out of the water.

In all this, Jesus tells them that the Father has to reveal this to them (John 6:45). Many see that this passage gives credence to the doctrine of election because He said, "no man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). The manna (that means "What is it?") was a mystery to the Jews during the time of Moses (Exodus 16:15), and Jesus was a mystery to them now. Eating flesh and drinking blood was prohibited (Genesis 9:3-4; Leviticus 17:10-16; 19:26), and they did not understand that Jesus was speaking figuratively (John 2:19-21; 3:4; 4:11) and not literally (John 6:63). Figuratively, He meant, "Just as they eat and drink and that food becomes a part of your body, so you must receive Me within your innermost being in order to have eternal life." Even though eating flesh and drinking blood was prohibited, blood was also the means of atonement for their sins because "the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11).  The people were not willing to look beyond and believe.

Just for those who may think He was talking about the Lord's Supper, John 6:50-51, and 53 are in the aorist tense in Greek meaning that it is a once-for-all action. So, it could not be the Lord's Supper because we do that over and over again. 

101. Many disciples desert Jesus: John 6:60-71 

Sadly, many of His disciples (followers and not the 12 apostles) could not handle these difficult statements He was making because they did not understand that He was speaking figuratively. They also probably realized that He was not going to deliver them from Roman domination. They could not receive His words into their innermost being (John 5:24; Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Eleven of His twelve apostles did not desert Him (Judas deserted Him in heart), and Peter's declaration that Jesus was the "Holy One of God" and had "words of eternal life" sealed that at least some understood what He meant!


WHEW! That was a long post, but I hope you ATE IT UP! (Get the pun?). 

REFLECTION
When God is about to do something good, He starts with a difficulty. When He is about to do something great, He starts with an impossibility. And that means, regardless of your circumstances, you are a candidate for a miracle today. 
The disciples were faced with an impossibility. On a moment's notice they were asked to feed 5,000 hungry men plus their families with only the equivalent of five tuna fish sandwiches! To test His men, Jesus asked the obvious question: "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" (John 6:5). And the disciples gave the obvious answer: "Nowhere!" But once they admitted that from a human point of view the situation was hopeless, Jesus stepped in to prove His adequacy once again.  
The Daily Walk, October 28, 2008
  APPLICATION
Are you facing a hopeless situation in your home, your marriage, your job? The first step toward appropriating God's strength is to admit your own inadequacy. Have a fish sandwich for lunch today, and as you munch, tell God about your "five small barley loaves and two small fish" (John 6:9). That's more than enough for Him to produce a banquet of blessing if you'll only give it to Him. As the little boy and the disciples learned, little is much when God is in it!
Others see only a hopeless end
but the believer rejoices 
in an endless hope. 
The Daily Walk, October 28, 2008

Don't you love that application?  Off to eat a tuna fish sandwich!

PRAYER

You are the Promised One. You proved Your power through the signs and miracles You performed. You deserve our worship and praise and a tuna fish sandwich in Your honor today! Amen. 

NOTE: Between John 6-8, John will remind us of his purpose (John 20:31 - "that you may believe") by using the key word believe and its derivatives 17 times! 
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