|1 After these things Jesus went over the Sea of
Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.
2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.
1. (verse 2) Why did the multitude follow Jesus? Why should they have been following Jesus?
It says the whole multitude followed after Jesus because they wanted to see the signs and the healings. They should have been following Christ because they wanted to hear his teaching.
Their focus was on the wrong thing.
MacDonald comments, "A faith founded on miracles is never as pleasing to God as that which is founded on His Word alone. Gods Word should not require miracles to verify it. Anything that God says is true. It cannot possibly be false. That should be enough for anyone."
3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
2. (verse 3) Why do you think Jesus went up to the mountain? Which would you find more exciting seeing Christs miracles or hearing his teaching?
I believe Jesus withdrew to the mountain to get away from the miracle seekers. Too many Christians today are excitement seekers instead of God seekers. They rush from one church to the next, from one special speaker to another, from one retreat to another conference. Somewhere along the way they lose sight of why they are serving God. We arent Christians to have excitement, we are Christians to seek God. When we genuinely seek God, we will have exciting times. I believe there is something wrong with modern Christianity that is constantly seeking a new experience. I firmly believe that our most exciting times with God, and the times when we are the closest to him should be in our prayer time when we are alone with God and dont have the distractions of anyone else present. I also believe that the genuine times of renewal and revival should occur in our local church during a regular service. When we are gathered together as a family with people who we know are genuine in their faith, we should feel Gods presence stronger than when we are in a stadium with strangers.
4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.
5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"
6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
3. (verses 5-6) How would this test the disciples faith?
If Jesus had simply performed this miracle, it would not have been nearly as effective for his disciples. He got them involved in trying to solve the problem. They had to examine the available resources and come to realize that there was no way to feed that great a multitude. Sometimes God asks us to get involved in the problems of his kingdom or of his church so when the miracle comes, we can realize how helpless we truly are without his intervention.
Gossip writes, "Why to Philip, who does not figure largely in the Gospels? Vs. 6 seems to make it plain that it was not simply because at the moment he happened to be standing near, but for a weightier reason. ... Looking back at life, it falls into a pattern. What at the time seemed dark and inexplicable, perhaps even hard and cruel, tends to gain meaning and significance. It becomes clear that one who knows us very thoroughly, far better than we know ourselves, is taking trouble to train us, to correct our faults, to grant us chances to rise above our natural weaknesses."
7 Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little."
4. (verse 7) What is the focus of Philips response? Give an example from your own life when you have responded to Gods test the way Philip responded.
Philip is a good church board member. He looks at the amount of offering that has come in and determines its not enough for this new program of feeding the 5000. Sometimes we also get focused on the financial. We know that God wants to do something, but we think we cant afford it. Philip was right; they couldnt afford it in the natural realm. But God doesnt always act in the natural realm; sometimes he asks us to reach out in faith as he works in the spiritual realm.
Some churches like to figure their budget based on the amount that came in the previous year. If the church grows at all, then they will do less with the resources that God has provided but they will have lots of money in the bank. Other churches want to take huge financial leaps when no apparent resources are available. Although at times God will work this way, as he did with the loaves and fishes, many times churches get in serious financial trouble when they over-extend too far. I believe the correct balance, barring a special move of God on hearts, is to use last years income and project an increase based on what you anticipate God is doing in the church. This will always require a measure of faith, but it is also a reasonable assumption that if the church is growing, the income should increase. This is what our church did for the new year, and so far the income has increased to match the budget. There are many churches across America that are in serious financial trouble because they foolishly over-committed their resources. And there are others who never reach their full potential because they are not willing to step out on faith.
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him,
9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?"
5. (verse 9) What is the focus of Andrews response? What situations do you face that you find it difficult to trust in God?
Andrew doesnt look at the financial resources, he looks at the practical resources. In Marks account of this miracle, after Jesus asked Andrew his question he said, "go and see." It might have taken some doing for Andrew to find anyone with loaves or fish. Perhaps he had scouted around for some time. When we feel we should begin a ministry in the church, sometimes we look around and say, we cant do it because no one will come and no one here is qualified to head up the program. But sometimes we have to begin things on faith. God will sometimes use the least likely person or the least likely circumstances to advance his kingdom.
10 Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
6. (verse 10) Why would Christ have the people sit down first?
There are at least two reasons I can think of that Jesus had the people sit down. First of all, he wanted order. By having everyone sit down in groups it would have been easier to serve them. In Marks account of this miracle he wrote in Mark 6:39-40, "And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties." God is not the author of chaos, but of order. When we try to organize things in the church, it is easy to think that God isnt in it since it isnt spontaneous. But God wants us to be organized as much as he wants us to be spontaneous. Often Paul would instruct his younger ministers to go to some church and set things in order. God wants us to have things orderly.
The second reason I think Jesus had them sit down is so that everyone could see what was happening. The disciples no doubt walked from group to group. Everyone could see them coming. They knew there were only five loaves and two fish, so they were probably wondering if it would run out before they got fed. But the baskets kept coming, and kept coming. Can you imagine what it would be like if you had actually witnessed this? We will look at their response a few verses later.
11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost."
13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
7. (verses 11-12) What do these verses teach us about God providing for our needs? Have you ever experienced a miracle of provision from God?
God worked a miracle to provide for the needs of the people. He will work a miracle to provide for your needs too. Notice that Jesus began this miracle by giving thanks to God before handing out the food. If we are facing a crisis in our life, let us also start by giving thanks to God. Thank him for his provision, thank him for taking care of us, and thank him because we know that he is in control of everything in our lives.
14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."
15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
8. (verses 14-15) What did the people want to do with Jesus? Why wouldnt he let them?
Remember earlier I asked how would you have responded if you saw this miracle unfolding before your very eyes. These people were ready to haul Jesus into Jerusalem and set him up as the new King. If Christs plan had been to set up a kingdom at this time, he very easily could have done it. The people were behind him. Many times the Bible tells us they were ready to make him their leader but he would turn away from them. He will someday be King of Israel as he takes his proper place on the throne of David. But now was not that time. He had to suffer the death of the cross first so that the world could be saved and we gentiles could also enter into Gods kingdom.
16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,
17 got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.
18 Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.
9. (verses 16-17) What was the purpose of sending the disciples into a storm? What should be our attitude whenever God sends us into a storm?
The Believers Bible Commentary remarks, "The Sea of Galilee is subject to sudden and violent storms. Winds travel down the valley of the Jordan River at a great speed. When they hit the Sea of Galilee, they cause the waves to rise very high. It is not safe for small boats to be out on the sea at such a time."
Christ sent his disciples into a storm so they could learn the importance of faith. Sometimes God allows us to go through a storm. It is never pleasant when we are going through a bad time, but it is sometime necessary so that we can learn how to place our trust in God.
19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.
10. (verse 19) What fears do you need God to calm in your life?
There are times when we are going through difficulties and fear grips our heart. What fears do you have? God is with you to calm your fears and give you comfort when nothing seems to be going right.
The Interpreters Bible comments, "How often in life people are badly scared and frightened by what is really Jesus Christ drawing near to them in helpfulness and kindness. And what a difference his presence with us makes, both in the serenity it gives to our own minds, and in the effectiveness of efforts that without him were tiring and largely futile."
20 But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."
21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
11. (verses 20-21) What miracle did Jesus perform in these verses? Why do you think he did this?
Verse 21 says "immediately the boat was at the land where they were going." Christ performed another miracle. He got them through the storm and they didnt have to toil any longer. There may be times when we are going through a terrible storm, and we are afraid. We dont know which way to turn. If we will allow Jesus to come into our boat, we will immediately be through the storm. It will be over. But sometimes we want to spend long hours trying to beat the storm ourselves. Finally we cry out to Christ and he is there for us.
This miracle follows close on the miracle of the loaves and fish. Do you see the connection? Jesus provided physical sustenance and now he is providing physical safety. In the first miracle they were involved trying to solve the problem, but it was Jesus who was directing their activities. This time they were sorely involved in the storm, but it was they who were trying to fight the storm. The lesson is the same for both miracles learn to trust in God and he will provide for us in all areas of our life.
This study on John 6:1-21 © 1998 by David Humpal. All rights reserved.
MacDonald: Believers Bible Commentary, New Testament volume, pg. 314 © 1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Gossip: The Interpreters Bible, vol. 8, pg. 553 © 1952, Abingdon Press
Believers Bible Commentary, New Testament volume, pg. 316 © 1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers
The Interpreters Bible, vol. 8, pg. 561 © 1952, Abingdon Press