65. Feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14)
When the apostles returned from their first tour around the country areas, they met Jesus in Galilee and tried to have a quiet time alone with him (Mark 6:30-32; John 6:1). Jesus also was in need of a rest, but he was filled with pity when he saw the crowds of people flocking to him in their need. They appeared to him as a flock of spiritually starved sheep that had no food because there was no shepherd to feed them (Mark 6:33-34; John 6:2-4).
The apostles were soon reminded that Jesus alone could satisfy the spiritual needs of the people. Without him the apostles were not able to satisfy even the people's physical needs. With five small loaves and two fish, Jesus miraculously fed a huge crowd, reminding the apostles that the miracles they had done on their missionary tour had resulted solely from Jesus' power working in them (Mark 6:35-44; John 6:5-13). But to many of the people, the miracle was a sign that Jesus was the promised great prophet. Like Moses, he had miraculously fed God's people in the wilderness (John 6:14; see Exodus 16:1-36; Deuteronomy 18:15; 1 Corinthians 10:1-5).
66. Jesus walks on the sea (Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:15-21)
On seeing Jesus' miracle with the bread and fish, many wanted to make him king immediately. This no doubt would have pleased many of Jesus' followers, but for him it presented a possible temptation. He therefore sent his disciples to Bethsaida, while he escaped into the hills where he could be alone and pray (Matthew 14:22-23; Mark 6:45-46; John 6:15).
Bethsaida was not far from the place where Jesus had fed the five thousand (see Luke 9:10-11). Both places were on the shore of the lake, but separated by a small bay. To escape the crowd the disciples decided to row across the lake, making it appear that they were heading for Bethsaida, which was near Capernaum (John 6:16-17).
Again a storm suddenly arose, blowing the boat off course and making rowing almost impossible. Jesus came to his disciples walking on the water, but instead of responding with faith they were fearful. Peter made a bolder response, but his confidence was shortlived (Matthew 14:24-30; Mark 6:47-50). Jesus was disappointed that again their faith failed in a crisis. Although they had seen his power in feeding the five thousand, they did not understand that the same power was still available to help them (Matthew 14:31-33; Mark 6:51-52). So much had they been blown off course before Jesus came to them, that they landed at Gennesaret, a long way west of their goal (Mark 6:53-56).
67. The bread of life (John 6:22-59)
Many Jews were determined to find Jesus and make him king. Although he had escaped from them after the feeding of the multitude, they were out the next day looking for him (John 6:22-24).
Jesus knew that these people wanted him to be king not because they felt any spiritual need, but because they thought he had magical powers that could supply all their daily needs. He urged them not to think just of physical and temporal blessings, but to seek the spiritual and eternal life that he offered (John 6:25-27). People cannot earn this life through doing good works; they can only accept it by faith (John 6:28-29). Jesus does not need to make food fall from heaven as in Moses' day in order to prove his power. He himself is the true bread from heaven (John 6:30-33).
This bread from heaven is not some common everyday thing that people can have simply to satisfy their appetite. It is a spiritual provision available to those who, being drawn by the Father to the Son, give themselves to him in faith (John 6:34-37). As Jesus does the work that his Father sent him to do, he brings believers into the life of God's kingdom, eternal life. They have this eternal life now, and they will enjoy it in its fulness following the victorious resurrection at the end of the age (John 6:38-40).
Jesus' hearers objected that he had no right to speak such words, for he was not God. He had not come from heaven but from a Galilean family, as people well knew. Jesus repeated what he had said previously, to impress upon them that the salvation he brought came from heaven and was the work of the invisible God (John 6:41-47). However, the only way this salvation can become possible is through Jesus' giving himself as a sacrifice for sin. People can have eternal life only through Jesus' death (John 6:48-51).
The true bread that Jesus came to give was his flesh and blood offered in sacrifice. Unless people eat and drink this 'food' they cannot be saved. That is, unless they accept Jesus' sacrifice for themselves in faith, they cannot have eternal life, either now or in the future (John 5:52-59).
68. Words of eternal life (John 6:60-71)
Many of the people who followed Jesus found his teaching about the bread of life hard to understand. Jesus told them that if they had difficulty believing this, they would be positively amazed when they saw him going bodily back to heaven. Their difficulties arose because they were thinking only of physical flesh and blood, and failed to see the spiritual truths they illustrated. They still did not understand how eternal life could result from Jesus' death (John 6:60-65).
Those who were more interested in earthly benefits than spiritual life were disappointed in Jesus' teaching and turned back from following him. Not so the apostles. All, except for Judas Iscariot, maintained their deep trust in their Lord. They knew that the words he spoke were true and life-giving (John 6:66-71).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on John 6". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany