John Chapter 6

There is nothing like studying Jesus’ ministry. John’s Gospel takes a rare look at how the Spirit worked in the background throughout Jesus’ ministry, These stories and this book are designed to bring out those details. I hope you enjoy reading this chapter and learn more about the Spirit than I was able to capture in this short story.

John 6:1-71 NLTse After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. (2) A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. (3) Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (4) (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) (5) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” (6) He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. (7) Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” (8) Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. (9) “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (10) “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered 5,000.) (11) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. (12) After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” (13) So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. (14) When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” (15) When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself. (16) That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. (17) But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. (18) Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. (19) They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, (20) but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” (21) Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination! (22) The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. (23) Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. (24) So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. (25) They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” (26) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. (27) But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” (28) They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” (29) Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (30) They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? (31) After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” (32) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. (33) The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (34) “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” (35) Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (36) But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. (37) However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. (38) For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. (39) And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. (40) For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” (41) Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (42) They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (43) But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. (44) For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. (45) As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (46) (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.) (47) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. (48) Yes, I am the bread of life! (49) Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. (50) Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (52) Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked. (53) So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. (54) But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. (55) For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. (56) Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (57) I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. (58) I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” (59) He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (60) Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” (61) Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? (62) Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? (63) The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (64) But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) (65) Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” (66) At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. (67) Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” (68) Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. (69) We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (70) Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” (71) He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.

We can see three major stories in this chapter. Jesus feeds a large group of people. The disciples found themselves in a storm in the middle of the lake. At the end, Jesus added details to what He explained to the Jewish leaders in the previous chapter. Since feeding people and the disciples in a boat are between the same basic lesson, we can see they must be related to the lesson Jesus was not only teaching, but repeating. So, they must help explain the lesson. Why else would these stories and lessons be arrange in the order John recorded them? We have to look at those stories in detail to see how they relate to what Jesus was trying to teach those religious leaders.

Jesus Fed 5000

John 6:1-15 NLTse After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. (2) A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. (3) Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (4) (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) (5) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” (6) He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. (7) Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” (8) Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. (9) “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (10) “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered 5,000.) (11) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. (12) After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” (13) So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. (14) When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” (15) When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.

I have to jump into a story about this scene on this one, but first, I want to point out one text. “He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.” Why was Jesus testing Philip? The last time we saw Philip was in chapter 1. John didn’t say much about Philip, except for the fact he went to find his brother Nathanael, told him about Jesus and brought his brother to meet Jesus.

A vast crowd followed Jesus and His disciples up the mountain. Jesus stopped at a level and grassy area. Jesus climbed a small bluff to look over the crowd. Philip climbed up after Jesus and stood next to Him. A soft wind blew their hair and coats back. Jesus and Philip had to squint looking into the wind. Philip looked over to see Jesus’ eyes watering up. Was it the wind or His concern for the crowd? Jesus turned face to face with Philip and asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” Philip looked at a single tear fall from Jesus’ eye as he thought about an answer.

Here we see this chapter beginning with John telling us about Jesus crossing a lake. This lake is significant in the fact it has Jews on one side and Gentiles on the other. It not only has a spiritual significance, Jesus used it as a tool to teach. Other authors placed Jesus on the Gentile side of the lake when He fed the 4000 and 5000 men, plus women and children.

It wouldn’t seem strange for Jesus to feed over 5000 people on the Gentile side of the lake during the Passover. What does seem strange is, why Jesus was not in Jerusalem during the Passover. We could look back and see, the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus and that may account for His absence. But is there a more important spiritual lesson Jesus was teaching?

The Passover was celebrated to remember how an angel of death passed over homes in Egypt that had blood on the door post. If blood wasn’t covering the doorposts, the angel went in to take the life of the first born son in the household. After the promised land was settled, they were to write the Ten Commandments in the sides of their doors. This was a way of showing how the blood of the lamb covered the law. But what does that have to do with the meal Jesus served that day?

The Passover also reminded people of the bondage God freed them from. We can’t forget, thousands of people left Egypt with the Hebrews. Jesus was ministering to those other people during that Passover. We have to remember, there were only three Passover celebrations during Jesus’ ministry. John recorded the first one when Jesus fashioned that whip and disrupted business inside the temple courtyard. This is the second. And of course the third was when Jesus taught a series of parables days before His arrest and series of trials leading to His execution. At this point all we can see in Jesus’ Passover celebration with the Gentiles is the fact He fed them. On the spiritual side we see, Jesus’ ministry offered freedom from bondage to sin.

What do we learn about this story when we look back to see how John led into it?

For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:43-47 NLTse).

Now we can see why Jesus tested Philip. He wanted to see if Philip believed Jesus came from God. John also pointed us back to Moses, who recorded all the details about the first Passover. This shows how it’s always good to go back and review the original design, function, and intent. I’ve heard so many people do silly things, then insist, “it’s tradition.” Well in most cases, if they would have gone back a few years, maybe even generations, they’d find, they used to do things totally different. I think the new urban definition of tradition is, “this is how we do it now and we ain’t gonna change it as long as I’m around.” Let’s go back another step to a reliable source, the Bible. What would those people find if they checked their traditions against the Bible. They wouldn’t find most of them in the Bible. Fact of the matter is, the Passover saw a series of changes between Moses and Jesus’ time. Passover was still a tradition, but underwent a series of changes by the Jewish leaders.

Jesus was breaking from that tradition for a while. There were no homes on that hillside where He fed all those people. So there was no need to sacrifice a bunch of lambs and smear doorposts with blood. That’s why Jesus provided a simple meal of bread and fish.

Philip needed to learn a lesson. Jesus saw a lot of potential in Philip, the question was, how to being it out. Jesus looked over the crowd for a few minutes. A few more tears came from His eyes. Philip had a lot in common with Andrew. They were both very good looking men. About the same size, shape, and age. Both had older brothers in the ministry. Jesus could see how their older brothers held them back from reaching their full potential.

Andrew found a young boy with a lunch bag full of bread and fish. When the disciples went out among the crowd to look for food, the boy jumped up to offer the lunch his mother packed for him. He ran up to Andrew, flung open his bag and said, “I have enough for everyone!” That little boy had eyes that could melt any heart. The hair hanging down over his face couldn’t hide the excitement inside of them. Andrew took the boy and his treasure to see Jesus.

Philip watched as the boy showed Jesus his lunch with a huge smile on his face. Andrew and Philip watched as Jesus knelt on one knee to inspect the feast inside the small bag. With one hand on the child’s face, the other helping to hold the bag, Jesus affirmed, “yes, this is more than enough.” Jesus took the bag from the boy, making a sound like the weight was almost too much for Jesus to handle on His own. Jesus asked for a basket. Andrew quickly brought one. Jesus asked the boy to help dump all that food into the basket. He popped up with a look in his eyes no one would ever forget. Once the five barley loaves and two fish were in the basket, the little boy helped Jesus lift it up. The boy stood there with his arms in the air like some unseen force helped Jesus hold that basket over His head as He blessed it.

The boy played an integral part in this event. He showed the disciples, Andrew and Philip in particular, how much Jesus cared for people, including little boys, and how they possess the ability to put incredible accomplishments into action. Jesus wanted to show them, the size of the offering doesn’t matter, once Jesus, God, and His Spirit begin working together, more will be accomplished than anyone could ever imagine.

The Word was God
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When Jesus brought the basket down, He did need help to set it on the ground. He smiled as the little boy was more than happy to hold up his end. Everyone around Jesus bend over and looked at the basket, now filled with bread and fish. Jesus told them to bring more baskets. The disciples went into the crowd asking for empty baskets. One after another they brought back empty baskets, filled them with beard and fish, took them out to the crowd and returned with another empty basket. Philip stood and watched for a while. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

Jesus sat down with the boy on His lap watching as excitement moved through the crowd like a title wave as news spread faster than the food. Philip walked over to the basket the other disciples had been taking basket after basket full of food from, took two loaves and two fish, walked over and gave them to Jesus and the little boy on His lap. The little boy looked up at Philip and said, “my mom made those over there.” He looked up at Jesus and added, “your Father made these.”

After eating, it didn’t take long for people to begin falling to sleep. The little boy rested gently in Jesus’ lap. That’s when Jesus sent His disciples out to gather up the leftovers. It was a surprise Jesus wanted the little boy to see when he woke up.

Who knows what those people were dreaming or what they talked about while they ate. When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” They wanted to make Jesus their king.

This may make a lot of people think Jesus fed a crowd of Jews. Since it was the Passover, that is doubtful. We’ve seen how the woman in Samaria had her own view of God. We’ve also seen how the promise of a prophet brought the entire city to Jesus. Does it really matter who that group consisted of? The lesson was for everyone to learn. Jesus looks at the effort and what’s in the heart, not the size of the offering or the ability of the person offering the gift.

The Disciples Crossed the Lake Alone

John 6:16-21 NLTse That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. (17) But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. (18) Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. (19) They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, (20) but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” (21) Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!

John recorded a rather short account about that crossing after Jesus fed 5000 men plus who knows how many woman and children. This short account begs us to go back to review the previous story to see if there was anything missed. One subject to look into is why John recorded only the men in his number and not women and children. Most people point out, that was Jewish tradition to only mention and count men. Where did that come from?

David decided to number Israel when he was king. His general, Joab warned him about numbering Israel, even though he was only numbering men old enough to serve in the military. Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1 NLTse). You can read the rest of the story in 1 Chronicles 21 to understand the full story.

My question is, if scripture clearly pointed out Satan caused David to number the people, and David ordered Joab to count the number of available warriors in Israel, why did this become a tradition? Let’s examine the details. Satan influenced David to go against God’s wishes. Satan wanted the people numbered. David interpreted it as a temptation but made a few minor changes to turn it into something that would be to his advantage. David didn’t feel he had to know how many people he ruled over, just how many warriors were available. The change made sense to David, so he sent out Joab to complete the task against his will. Altering Satan’s temptation wasn’t okay with God, so David was given a choice. He had to choose which punishment Israel would face for his poor choice. Since that time, it has been a tradition to count only men in Israel.

Here is an example showing how people create traditions. Most of the time they have no idea where the tradition came from or if it is good or bad. In this case, it’s easy to see, this is not a good tradition to follow. Then why did John and other Bible writers follow that tradition? They weren’t perfect.

People may argue this was a tradition that goes as far back as Exodus when God delivered Israel from Egypt. But does it? Where did Moses or anyone count only the men? Some chapters begin with, the whole congregation, or whole community, depending on the translation. Based on the original Hebrew word Moses recorded, congregation may also be translated as a witness. We know, more people than Israel witnessed those miracles as well as the Exodus.

 

The point is, John pointed us back to examine a tradition in a story about Jesus breaking tradition. When we look ahead, didn’t Jesus change how Passover was observed after He rose from that tomb? Was Jesus pointing forward to that change?

John had his own style of recording this story. He pointed out the disciples went down to the boat, waited for a while, then left without Him. Is that any way to treat someone who just fed 0ver 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and fish? If you saw a miracle like that, how anxious would you be to leave Him behind? Let me ask you a question. Now that you’ve seen God’s Word open up, are you going to leave it behind?

That seems to be John’s main point in his short version of this story. We could compare John’s version to other accounts, but then we wouldn’t be doing anything more than what other people have done, copied, and turned into a tradition.

John added one line Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” That sounds like a personal message. Imagine John writing this book. He gets to the this story and really wants to express himself, but the Spirit stops him. The Spirit lets John record only a few simple details about that event. Look at the details in this story and compare it to the other stories John recorded. In one story John told us everything but what the woman was wearing. All of a sudden John begins omitting details.

Once a pattern is established, and we see a break in it, this is an indication to pay attention. It often indicates a movement into a new event. Often a break in an established pattern leads into a sever warning or a wonderful promise of fulfillment.

The Crowd Followed Jesus

John 6:22-28 NLTse The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. (23) Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. (24) So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. (25) They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” (26) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. (27) But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” (28) They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

This is a tough sequence to follow. We have two groups looking for Jesus. One is the crowd on the shore near where Jesus fed them. Another group in boats came from Tiberias to where they heard Jesus was. Since Jesus and the disciples left, they all got in the boats and sailed to Capernaum.

Did you see what happened? Jesus criss-crossed that lake back and forth to teach a lesson. He wanted people to see how He came to this world to minister to everyone. Since this story occurred over the second Passover, it was in the second year of Jesus’ ministry. This short story John included to show some people were listening to Jesus.

Jesus fed those people on the Gentile side of the lake. Tiberias is on the Jewish side of the lake. John gave us a scene with Hebrews sailing boats to the Gentile side of the lake. The Hebrews met a group of Gentiles who told them about Jesus feeding thousands of people. They all praised the Lord, got in those boats together and went to Capernaum, another Jewish city on the northern end of the lake.

The moral of the story. People are not going to see this lesson until: 1) They understand Jesus’ ministry. 2) They want to accept Jesus’ ministry. Another miraculous miracle occurred most people miss. A little boy played a major role in not only feeding all those people but bringing a large group of Jews and Gentiles together. This shows how God’s miracles have an expanding effect on people and events in the world.

Another thing happened. We’ve seen John record hints about traditions and their effects. What about the tradition the Jews in the boats overcame to offer a ride to the Gentiles? The Gentiles had to overcome the same traditions. We saw a bit of those traditions explained when Jesus met that woman in Samaria.

Now look at that little boy. Do you think it mattered to him who that food fed? Did he question if they were Jews or Gentiles? Now do you see why John recorded only a few details? John recorded details from a series of stories related on a spiritual basis. Unless we look back at other details John saw important enough to list, we don’t stand a chance of seeing how their related. If we follow the tradition of taking out one little story and explaining it ourselves, we rob ourselves of John’s experience with Jesus. As well as missing the spiritual message installed by God’s Spirit.

You would think Jesus would be happy to see Jews and Gentiles traveling together. That’s what He was working towards for over two years. But there was something else on Jesus’ mind. If the Gentiles wanted to make Him king, imagine what the Jews thought?

Jesus wanted them to see the spiritual food, not the physical food. Jesus didn’t come here to take a physical throne, but to lead them to a spiritual Kingdom. He got their attention. They wanted to do God’s work. Imagine what can be accomplished when Jews and Gentiles work together, under God’s command of course. But that’s the hard part. Getting people to give up control and trusting in a power they can’t see. At least Jesus or God’s Spirit got them together.

The Only Work God Wants You To Do

John 6:29-36 NLTse Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (30) They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? (31) After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” (32) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. (33) The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (34) “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” (35) Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (36) But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.

You have to be extremely careful when reading this portion of this story. Now we can see why we had to carefully read the last story to see how Jews came together with Gentiles. John was preparing us for another lesson here.

We need to look at who said what. Jesus began by telling them, “the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” The people, or some of the people representing the entire mixed group answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”

Put this into perspective. People are looking for Jesus. Some of them saw one of His greatest miracles. They told other people about it. Jews and Gentiles overcame generations of prejudice to get together in boats and look for Jesus. Wasn’t that enough of a sign?

Jesus just told them the work their supposed to do, “believe in the One He has sent.” We can see how Jesus is reaching out to new believers. He is reaching out to them like little children. Their work begins at the vary basics of belief.

Looking at this from the aspect of the crowd, Jesus just told them what their work was. Instead of asking for more details about that work, they changed the subject to, “show us another miraculous sign if you want us to believe.” They were looking for Jesus and once they found Him and He gave them a job to do, they put a condition on it.

They brought up the subject of Moses giving Israel bread in the wilderness. Jesus pointed out, it wasn’t Moses but God who provided that bread or manna for all those years. All they had to do is believe God sent Jesus. Once He explained He was the living bread from Heaven, they asked for that bread everyday. Did they know what they were asking for?

Jesus had to repeat and expand on the lesson. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.” They not only saw Jesus, they decided to look for Him and follow Him. But why? For what? Was it only because of that physical bread and the hope of a new nation where they could find peace in this world?

Jesus introduced a new key word and symbol, bread. He tied it in with eternal life and belief. All those words are related to one another. All of them together focus on the same spiritual lesson. This is another reason John wrote in that particular manner making us pay close attention and not take any word for granted. That’s why John included a series of lessons most people miss before Jesus introduced this lesson on spiritual bread, life, and belief. They all point to spiritual understanding. The main focus thus far is, all of those details point to Jesus. Spiritual understanding begins with Jesus.

Those The Father Has Given Me

John 6:37-46 NLTse However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. (38) For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. (39) And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. (40) For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” (41) Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (42) They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (43) But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. (44) For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. (45) As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (46) (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)

It’s important to remember, Jesus is addressing a mixed multitude of Jews and all kinds of beliefs. This information He is giving them may seem basic to many of us, but put yourself into the scene and think of how each person would have received this news. To the world, this was all totally new. Jesus told them concepts recorded in scripture generations before any of those people were born. Long before there were Jews, Greeks. Romans, Samaritans, or any of the other so called ethnic groups who Jesus ministered to.

When Jesus refereed to those the Father has given me, He was referring not only to those people standing in front of Him, but all those people back to Adam. This was much bigger than a simple speech given to a small group standing on the northern shore of that lake. This message spanned all people over all generations.

Jesus told them something they never would have expected to hear. “I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” Jesus had to announce this in a safe location to a group that wouldn’t turn on Him. When Jesus announced the beginning of His ministry in the synagogue in His hometown, the people who saw Him grow up tried throwing Him off a cliff.

This was something radically new. Jesus just told them, God send Him. What do you think the reaction would be in your church if someone you hardly knew stood up and made that claim? I’ve met a number of people who talk to God and listen. We have to be careful who we talk to and how we talk to them. We have to be careful what we say and who we say it to because, people without a relationship with God have no idea how He communicates with us, and doubt God will ever talk to anyone. Many of those people hold predominant church positions and wouldn’t hesitate to try to politically and personally assassinate anyone who claims to hear God’s voice in any way, shape, or from. This includes hearing God’s voice and seeing His personality in scripture.

Jesus introduced another rarely known and talked about subject. “ And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.Even by today’s standards, this is not a subject all Christians agree on. The majority of Christians believe the soul immediately goes to Heaven and there is no need for a resurrection on the last day. We see Sadducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection trying to use that subject to trap Jesus. We also see the subject in many of the Gospels and other books in the new Testament including Acts, when Paul used different beliefs about the resurrection to divide the different factions of religious leaders at one of his trials. When Paul brought up one concept, arguing about the resurrection became more important than condemning Paul. Why and how has Satan been able to use the resurrection to divide so many people? Jesus pointed them to one belief. He wanted to heal the divisions they created. What was their reaction?

Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Jesus was talking about the resurrection on the last day. They went back to the subject about bread. Something tripped their trigger. Suddenly the crowd began to turn on Jesus like they did in His Hometown. They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” Now Jesus was in a bind. How was He going to get out of this mess and get the crowd to remember why they came together?

Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.) The first thing Jesus reminded them of was a greater force then themselves. Someone greater than the traditions that divided them, brought them to Him.

John repeated the phrase, “Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.” John wanted to remind us, there is only one source to go to for the right information. That is Jesus. Is that so difficult to figure out?

God sends people to Jesus. This shows us the simple process God defined and uses. Jesus made it plain. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me.” God’s Spirit draws people to Jesus. Just so you don’t miss the point. Jesus DIDN’T include the name of a special church, a set of Bible Studies someone prepared, a set of rules, regulations, doctrines, traditions, a building layout, colors used in the building, or the name of any man, title, occupation, and this list could go on and on about what Jesus DIDN’T mention. Jesus mentioned God His Father as the ONLY source. I shouldn’t have to explain this, but as experience has shown me, some people just don’t get this. The Christian world is filled with people who have a better way, a better method, a better — What? What can be better than God?

We also see Jesus quoting a small portion of scripture. “ As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’” Jesus could have refereed to a number of Old Testament texts. Two in particular. We’ll look at one here, the other you can locate in Isaiah and study on your own.

I will let you in on a little secret here. God recorded the fulfillment of every prophecy in the Bible. God used a simple pattern combining the basic rules of context with common sense. The prophecy and its fulfillment share the same theme. They have to. Since they share the same theme, the introduction and summation in the chapter the prophecy is found in must agree with the introduction and summation the fulfillment is recorded. This is perfectly consistent with all the prophecies that have been fulfilled. God’s Bible is living proof of that fact. Old Testament scripture Jesus and others quoted in the New Testament follow that same rule. Let’s see how it works.

Another important Bible Study rule is, when you see scripture quoted by an author, always look up the original texts. An inspired writer will only quote a small portion of scripture. Just enough to point you back to the original texts. It’s your job to open up and read the original texts. And remember to check to introduction and summation for the chapter the original scripture is located. This a a major way God uses to communicate with us. An easy way to locate the original texts is to use a chain reference in a Study Bible. Or you can use the TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) you can download and use with E-Sword, and other Bible computer programs.

In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all– the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the LORD’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The LORD will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. (Micah 4:1-3 NLTse).

Here we only see Jesus pointed to only a small portion of scripture. In this case it is part of the introduction to Micah 4. Look at the detail a few extra verses added. A mountain represents the LORD’s house. It will be the highest of all. The highest what? Is God’s house on the highest mountain elevation on earth? No! This is pointing to a spiritual house. Get the picture? Since the theme is learning, it is pointing to the highest level of education anyone can receive. Now do you get it?

People from all over the world will stream there to worship. Does that only included qualified and properly educated theologians? Of course not! Scripture just showed us they don’t have the proper education until they’ve been on God’s mountain.

Micah also tells us the people will say, “”Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” They will call others to join in on the education process – on God’s mountain.

You can look at all the details in the chapter. The main point is, and needs to be compared to what Jesus was teaching in that story, until we go directly to God, there is no way we are qualified to teach others. After we’re educated, all we can do is tell people about God’s classroom on His mountain. Jesus came to teach that.

Following the simple rules of context, we also have to compare summations to see if they agree. Keep in mind, Micah began with a spiritual mountain. So we have to look at the end of Micah for a spiritual connection the summation in John 6.

Now many nations have gathered against you. “Let her be desecrated,” they say. “Let us see the destruction of Jerusalem.” But they do not know the LORD’s thoughts or understand his plan. These nations don’t know that he is gathering them together to be beaten and trampled like sheaves of grain on a threshing floor. “Rise up and crush the nations, O Jerusalem!” says the LORD. “For I will give you iron horns and bronze hooves, so you can trample many nations to pieces. You will present their stolen riches to the LORD, their wealth to the LORD of all the earth.” (Micah 4:11-13 NLTse).

Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him. (John 6:65-71 NLTse).

Micah talks about, “many nations have gathered against you.” He also wrote about the destruction they want to cause and how those people misunderstand. Micah closed with symbols of their destruction.

John told us about many people who turned away from Jesus because they couldn’t understand His connection with God and how God brings people to Jesus. If people refuse to follow Jesus, are they for or against Him? We all know, when people don’t agree with someone, they spend a lot of time trying to convince people why. They look for people to agree with them so they feel better about their decision. The same is true for people who turn their backs on Jesus. They’re not only turning their backs but work behind the scene to turn other people away from Jesus. John also happened to mention one disciple who he referred to as the devil. We see the same battle in both chapters.

This Bread is My Flesh

John 6:47-54 NLTse “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. (48) Yes, I am the bread of life! (49) Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. (50) Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (52) Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked. (53) So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. (54) But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.

Jesus first crossed the lake where He healed people, then fed thousands. Jesus used those events to lead into lessons He was about to teach. One of those lessons involved a small boy and his little lunch to show, the size of the person doesn’t matter and neither does the size of the offering matter. Jesus blessed the food to show when Jesus unites with God and His Spirit, more will be accomplished than ever imagined.

Jesus had to leave because the crowd wanted to use Jesus and His miracles to serve their needs and desires. The disciples got into a boat and left Jesus behind. Jesus had to save them from a sudden storm. Finally a mixed multitude found Jesus and He began another series of lessons.

Jesus knew people only went out to find Him because of the things they wanted Him to do for them. Jesus had to convince them not to worry about the physical things in this world. Jesus had to teach them how to look at spiritual things. At first the people wanted to learn. They also wanted to perform miracles themselves. Jesus knew they weren’t ready for that.

Someone in the crowd brought up the subject of Moses and the manna or bread from Heaven. This was a good point for Jesus to begin teaching. Jesus introduced a new concept to them. “”I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.”

We have to realize, only some of the people heard the lesson about living water Jesus taught the Samaritan woman. This was also the first time any of them heard Jesus use bread as a symbol. They wanted that bread. Before they could receive that bread, they had to learn a few things. “ I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” This also applied to them. The people in the crowd wanted to do miracles to serve their own desires.

The crowd didn’t cooperate long. Some of the people who knew Jesus when He grew up questioned Him and His authority. Jesus told them, “”Stop complaining about what I said. For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.” Jesus kept repeating the last day to get their minds off their immediate needs onto the big picture. After all, what is this life compared to eternity? How is Jesus going to get their minds off their own problems and look at what God is trying to accomplish and how?

Jesus pointed out, “Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.” What were those people looking for? Something to supply their immediate needs, or a God who is able to provide all their needs for an eternity? They had to make a decision. But first they needed the facts to make an educated decision. Like Jesus told them, look at Micah to see what needed to be done. But even today, how many people ignore what Jesus and God’s Spirit is trying to point them to?

Jesus told them the difference between physical and spiritual bread. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” Jesus actually repeated this a few times. It’s something those people should have paid attention to and something we need to examine. As we’ve seen in Malachi, that trip to God’s mountain is a personal journey. Why are people afraid to talk with God and learn from Jesus?

Some people continued to argue with Jesus. All He’s trying to do is teach a simple lesson. Jesus continued to repeat Himself and add more details. He told them, “anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.” Once again we see the last day repeated. Did you ever argue with someone and have to repeat yourself? Did it ever dawn on you, they’ll never listen to what you say? On a one on one conversation, your not going to accomplish anything no matter how much time you waste or how many times you repeat yourself. But Jesus was speaking to a group. Part of that group wanted power to perform miracles on their own. Another part doubted Jesus because they grew up with Him.

My Flesh is Food

John 6:55-59 NLTse For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. (56) Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (57) I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. (58) I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” (59) He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

John added an unexpected twist in this story that began on the northern shore of the lake and ended in a synagogue in Capernaum. When did the scene change? Since Jesus repeated Himself so many times, Jesus may have repeated the entire lesson inside that synagogue. We can’t be sure. We do see, everything in these few verses is in previous verses. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. (48) Yes, I am the bread of life! (49) Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. (50) Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” Is Jesus repeating Himself in front of the original group on the lake shore, or is that something Jesus repeated in the synagogue? Once again, we see another example in John’s book we need to pay close attention to the details.

John 6:60-71 NLTse Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” (61) Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? (62) Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? (63) The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (64) But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) (65) Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” (66) At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. (67) Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” (68) Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. (69) We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (70) Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” (71) He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.

Jesus turned His attention to His disciples in the summation of this chapter. Not only the twelve, but other disciples. Some of them admitted they didn’t understand what He was trying to teach. Jesus didn’t try to reexplain all the details. He added another important detail, “what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again?”

This should seem like basic information to most Christians. Some of those people Jesus was talking to did eventually see Him ascend to Heaven. But why did Jesus ask those people if the information He gave them offended them? How would it offend them? Does it offend people today? John compared their misunderstanding to complaining. Another lesson showing how closely we need to read John’s book. Why would they go to listen to Jesus, then complain? Are people still complaining today?

Then Jesus repeated the most important part of the lesson. “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Did this make them listen? Does it make people listen today? Do people know the difference between human efforts and the work of God’s Spirit?

I see arguments on the Internet all the time. One church member condemns another church. Why? They don’t know anything about that other church. They never visited that other church. They may have read something someone posted about the church they choose to condemn. Chances are, the person who posted the information never visited the church they are condemning. That wheel of misinformed hatred rolls on and on.

That is one example of those who’ve walked away from Jesus. They don’t understand what He’s trying to teach. They have no idea how to approach God’s mountain and possess no desire to learn. They have become a god onto themselves and are the most difficult people to reach. They are not many steps away from becoming like terrorists cells we hear about on the news. The only difference is, some people choose to assassinate with words. Both factions share the same tactics. They like to hide, come out to perform their evil deed, them slip away. There is no way neither will ever think of trying to find out anything about the groups they’ve been taught to hate. Both factions convince themselves they know everything. Both factions convince themselves they are fighting and killing for God. Neither group knows God, nor are they able to explain any basic information about God. Like the group in this story, they walked away from Jesus to follow someone who only knows hatred and domination – how to use people. Like Judas, they’ve betrayed Jesus, abandoned Him for a way they thought was better than God’s plan.

People can’t see Jesus’ words or promise of eternal life. They don’t understand it. This is part of the message we’re given to share with the world. When people find it difficult to understand, they give up. Their pride keeps them from approaching God’s classroom on His mountain. Someone convinced them, they aren’t good enough. They aren’t pure enough. They have too many sins to be ashamed of. They aren’t smart enough or not prepared. So those people – feeling inadequate to approach God’s throne, concentrate on a single message. They feel if they can get one message right, it might make them good enough to stand before God. They meet someone who seems to be an expert in one field. They listen intently and learn from a mere human. They don’t understand, “Human effort accomplishes nothing.” All they want to do is learn a single message to save one person. Maybe that will get God’s attention.

Judas felt that way. Judas condemned people he didn’t know. Judas thought he had a better plan. Judas was one of those who wanted power to do miracles on his own. He convinced himself he was wise enough to control the power and use it to make the world a better place. Since Jesus wasn’t going to use that power the way it should be used, maybe there is a way of making Jesus use that power and share it. Finally, Judas found predominant leaders who agreed with him.

Why did Jesus keep repeating the lesson on the bread of life? When we look close at this chapter, He really didn’t explain what that bread represented. Except to go to Jesus and listen to Him. So I guess we can say bread points to Jesus and His Word. But that is pretty vague. That leaves the door wide open to interpretation. Why would Jesus spend so much time trying to explain, He is the bread of life, and eternal life only comes through Him, but not explain they entire process? Well if you think that’s all Jesus explained in this chapter, you missed the entire point and I can tell, you never studied it on your own. You let someone study and give you their personal view.

Did you overlook how many times Jesus pointed to God’s Spirit? They are a team. God sends people to Jesus, who sends them to God’s Spirit. They all work together. They rely on one another. I can see three major groups in this story. One wanted to learn how to perform miracles. One of the groups were Jewish, the other Gentile.

The group that wanted to perform miracles couldn’t do a thing without God’s Spirit and wouldn’t know how to use them unless He first taught them. The Hebrews knew God’s law. Without Jesus, they wouldn’t know how or what to teach in God’s law. The Gentiles served a special purpose. They know the local customs and knew how to establish relationships with many different types of people. They still needed Jesus and God’s Spirit to know what and how to lead other Gentiles to Christ. Imagine what they could have accomplished if they learned how to work together. Jesus showed them what can be accomplished when He worked together with God and His Spirit when they fed over 5000 people.

I can tell some of you are still questioning what side of the lake Jesus was on and who He fed. We’ll have to consult another book to find that answer. According to Matthew 14, after Jesus fed the 5000, they crossed the lake. You can read the entire story. Here is where they landed. After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. (Matthew 14:34 NLTse). Gennesaret is on the Hebrew side of the lake near Galilee.

Does it matter where Jesus fed those people? John’s book is very passionate about Christ, his teacher. He loved Jesus. We’ve also seen how carefully we have to read John’s book to see exactly what’s happening. In this case we have to look at what John didn’t record. Something he didn’t think he had to explain. How do you think Jesus felt when He saw all those people turn and walk away?

John showed us how Jesus kept repeating the same messages over and over. Finally some of the people said, “it was too hard to understand.” Others walked away because they saw Jesus grow up but couldn’t see how He could be the Messiah. What is that? They saw Jesus grow up, lead a perfect life, and couldn’t see He is the Messiah. What were they looking for? Didn’t they see anything special in Jesus?

What did Jesus feel when He saw friends He’d known for years walk away from Him? Not to mention a number of people He just fed. What went through Jesus’ mind. How far did His heart sink as He stood there wondering what He could of done, or what He needed to do next? Can you imagine the conversation Jesus must have had with His DAD that night? Can you imagine how God tried to comfort Jesus? Don’t you think Jesus prayed long and hard for that day? Don’t you think Jesus spent years praying for those people He grew up with?

Kind of makes you want to stop complaining about your prayers that aren’t answered. When Jesus said He came here to suffer just like we do, He wasn’t fooling. He didn’t leave out any details.

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