JOHN 6: Insights, Highlights and Points to Ponder:
1. The Setting: The events of John 6 all happen in northern Israel around or ON the Sea of Galilee (which is also known as the Sea of Tiberias).
2. Background & Old Testament Connection: As we witness the feeding of the 5,000+ people with only 5 loaves of barely BREAD and two fishes, we hear Jesus speak about BREAD repeatedly in John 6. Keep in mind the connection with “MANNA” (which in Hebrew means: “What is it?”). Manna was the bread that came down from Heaven as a gift from God to feed and satisfy the physical hunger of the Children of Israel during their 40 year wilderness wanderings.
Here is part of the MANNA story from Exodus 16:11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’” 13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”[Manna]For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat….35 The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan.
3. BAD Joke Time: So, why did the Children of Israel wander in the wilderness for 40 years? (Dramatic PAUSE)…….ANSWER: Because they had no smart phones and the men REFUSED to stop and ask for directions (cymbal crash).
We now read: John 6 (interspersed with commentary and questions)
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
Location: Chapter 6 begins on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias) near the town of Bethsaida.
6:1 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.
4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
The Lutheran Study Bible(LSB) provides a thoughtful summary of John 6:1-15 (CPH.org, LSB p. 1791): Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000, the next sign recorded in Jn, reveals Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God (20:30-31). Like those who had eaten their fill,”we also are tempted to seek the Lord only for the earthly things He can give us. Fortunately for us, Jesus reigns as our heavenly King, who calls us to repentance, fills us with needed spiritual blessings, and gives us everlasting life.
+Prayer+ O Christ, satisfy not only my temporal needs but also my deepest spiritual needs. Amen.
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
Jesus Walks on Water
Winds Create Waves: The Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias) often has very rough waters from the winds blowing over it from the hills and mountains around it. It is the largest fresh water lake in Israel (with a surface area of 64 square miles). Keep in mind the ENTIRE nation of Israel is just a little bit larger that the State of New Jersey.
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
What Jesus says in VERSE 20 literally translates: “I AM. Fear not.” This is another “I AM” statement of Jesus revealing His Divine identity by referring again to the burning bush in Exodus 3.
21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
I Am the Bread of Life
22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
NOTE: To what is Jesus referring in this section with statements such as:54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life? There is a debate. On the one hand, some think He is speaking about Communion; this does sound very sacramental. On the other hand, others say this passage is not an explicit reference to Holy Communion, because there was no wine in use (only bread) and John does NOT record Jesus speaking the Words of institution. I think these verses of Jesus are filled with rich, complex, multiple meaning. Jesus is the MANNA and “Bread of life” sent by God from Heaven Who satisfies ALL our hunger and provides for ALL of our physical and (especially) spiritual needs.
59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
NOTE: The Capernaum Synagogue ruins still exist today and are the VERY place where Jesus and His disciples visited! Check out some Interesting Pictures! GOOGLE: “Synagogue ruins at Capernaum.” The ruins identified as the home of St. Peter are also nearby. Many of the surrounding residential homes in Capernaum were made with black basalt stones.
The Words of Eternal Life
John 6:60 connects us back with John 1:1, “In the beginning was the logos”--or Word). John uses the same word (LOGOS) that is translated “saying” in English at the end of verse 60 below. Logos can also be understood as a saying or teaching. Many Who hear Jesus react with rejection or confusion, because much of what Jesus has to say and teach are truly, truly difficult sayings or teachings and are impossible to understand and accept without faith.
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Jesus Emphasizes and Reminds Us in Verse 65 that we do NOT choose to follow or believe in God; God chooses us and makes us His children through the gifts of His Spirit, Baptism and the Word.
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
NOTE: In response to the hard sayings/teachings, of Jesus, many turn away. Jesus asks His disciples if they also want to turn away from Him. With Holy Spirit empowered faith, Peter provides a powerful profession of trust in the saving words of Jesus! May we echo Peter’s bold profession of faith in the words of Jesus!
70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
Practical Life APPLICATION:
Yes, our world is a MESS!
Life is often difficult.
We need Jesus!
As we experience the many storms of life, Jesus comes to us amidst the wind and the waves and says, “Fear not. I AM with you.”
John 6 also emphasizes that our Savior Jesus graciously provides for ALL our physical and spiritual needs. Our same Savior Who fed the 5,000+ and teaches us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread,”promises us in John 6: 35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
We Pray: Dear God, thank You for Your overflowing blessings and for satisfying the daily hunger of my stomach. Help me especially to hunger and thirst for Your Word which satisfies my spirit forever. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Scott Schmieding