Monday, March 3, 2014
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
The sixth chapter of John's gospel is a troublesome chapter for many unbelievers, and for the Christians that they question regarding it. Hopefully we can study this and make it possible to understand it more fully.
How long has it been since the aroma of baking bread filled your home? Has it been a while since you sliced a still-warm loaf and savored the wonderful taste? As wonderful as that is, and as nourishing as it can be, Jesus our Lord is even better! Like so many other things that He created, like cool spring water, and glorious sunshine, bread is something that can remind us of the special relationship we have with Him.
In the first few verses of this chapter, we see Jesus work a miracle with the everyday, commonplace bread that all of his hearers were familiar with. Then in the next verses, with language that confuses some and offends others, He preached on His miracle. He tells them that this miracle of bread is about Himself -- the bread of God, come down from heaven.
It's amazing to note in verse 66, that many of His followers abandoned Him after He spoke these words. "After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him."
But not all of them left. Jesus turned to the twelve in the very next verse and asked if they wanted to leave, as well. But Peter (bless his heart, he always spoke up so quickly; he blurted out just what was in his heart!) told him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
So as we study, let's first focus on the miracle in the first fifteen verses, when Jesus took two fishes and five barley loaves and fed over five thousand people. Then we'll look at the controversy about Jesus as the bread of heaven, in the rest of the chapter.
You see, there is more here than meets the eye. There are clues at the beginning and at the end of this passage about the feeding of the five thousand, that show us two things: Jesus is doing more than feeding people with natural bread, and the people in general are in no spiritual condition to see what He is doing.
We've seen this before, remember? John has written down instances where Jesus does something or says something in the natural world, as a way of pointing to the heavenly realm, and the people just don't "get it."
Remember, that is why John is writing......so we'll "get it." And in less time than some of his contemporaries!
He told the leaders in chapter two, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." What was their answer? "It took forty-six years to build this temple."
He told Nicodemus: "You must be born again." What did Nicodemus say? "How do I get back into my mother's womb?"
He told the woman at the well that He would give her living water . . . she said, "You don't have a bucket."
We will see in these verses that this group doesn't "get it" either. As we pray today, perhaps we should ask for wisdom to see what He wants us to see, and hear what He wants us to hear. Please, Lord, help us to "get it."