There are two miracles in this chapter. The first is for the benefit of everyone, the second is for the benefit of the disciples. John explains in this chapter what it means to truly receive Jesus and then to be His Disciple, or Follower.
The main theme of this chapter is the concept of “eternal food and drink”. As in previous chapters, the Lord Jesus uses a normal, daily activity or concept to illustrate an eternal truth. While it may be tempting to focus on the details of each of the two miracles, the context indicates that following Jesus is more than receiving from Him, that there is a commitment involved.
Up to this point in his writing, John has used the following concepts to describe “heavenly truths”:
1. New Birth
2. Living Water
3. Bread from Heaven
4. Spiritual Food of doing God’s Will
5. Searching the Scriptures for eternal life
John is not developing a theological treatise, although he certainly does teach some deep spiritual truths. His purpose is to reveal Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Savior, Lord. While the theological doctrines are important, the Holy Spirit has written through John to reveal Christ more than the doctrines. (The letters of the New Testament are more suited for that particular purpose).
As you read through the Gospel of John, take note of the many ways which John presents Jesus Christ as the Eternal God, the Creator.
II. John 6:1-14 The disciples had been sent out to minister and had returned. Joh the Baptist has been martyred by King Herod during that time, and Jesus teaches the Jewish leaders (Chapter5). Read Matthew 14:1-14; Mark 6:7-13, 14-29, 30-31, which provide additional information about the prior events. Now that the disciples have returned they go to a place for some rest. .
A. Jesus had been busy while the disciples were away
1. Jesus had been healing people and teaching the Jewish leaders
2. Another “passover” was at hand – this takes place, then about 1 full year after the events in chapter 2. What might have been going on during that year? The other three Gospels fill in much of the details; John did not need to repeat it all.
B. Feeding 5000
1. Jesus has a teaching ministry
2. Jesus has compassion for people
3. Jesus knows what He is going to do
Q: Why does Jesus ask His disciples what to do?
4. Gathers up more than they started with. Does the context here suggest any spiritual truth regarding the amount left over? Answer: no, it is simply relating what happened. There is no authority to make a spiritual lesson out of the 12 baskets left over.
5. How does verse 14 correspond with John’s stated purpose?
Certainly this was a notable miracle that really grabbed the peoples attention.
III. John 6:15-21
A. Forcing Jesus to be King
1. Several times it is written, “My time is not yet”
2. People were eager for a King
a. Wanted deliverance
b. Jewish history that of a powerful kingdom, and they wanted it to be such again.
Isaiah is a prophet who wrote about 80 years before the exile into Babylon. There is much in his book about sin and judgment. There is also much about restoration and glory. The Jewish people were looking for that restoration and glory, thinking that the Messiah would come to provide it.
B. Storm on the Sea
1. The disciples get into a boat and start for the other side of the sea.
2. Jesus is not with them (see the parallel passages)
3. The disciples are afraid
4. Jesus frightens them by walking on the water – why did He do this instead of just finding another way around? Remember John 5:19.
5. What was Jesus’ likely purpose for walking on the water? To whom was He teaching and ministering? Why?
IV. John 6:22-34
A. Food to eternal Life
1. The people seek Jesus – why?
2. “Labor” for the food that endures to eternal life – what does this mean?
a. They understand what it means to labor for “perishable food”
b. Labor means to work hard, to do something, be diligent.
c. Jesus is making a contrast so that He can teach them a deeper truth.
If one were to stop here, what might be the understanding of how to get eternal life? People might say that you have to work hard for it. But, that is not what Jesus is teaching, for He explains it in the next verses. This is one of the great errors of taking a verse out of context.
d. The Father has “sealed” Jesus – this means that Jesus has been specially chosen and commissioned by the Father to bring the truth of eternal life. He is the only one who can explain and give this life.
B. “What do we do?”
1. Jesus is leading them to what they do not yet understand.
2. His answer: God the Father’s work is to “believe”. Believe what? When John uses the word “believe”, what does he mean?
For John, “believe” means ore than knowledge or being the recipient of a miracle. It is a full trust, dependence upon, a reliance. Look at what Peter says to Jesus in verse 68. This is an important concept for John regarding “believe”.
3. The work is not a deed, but the belief in the One whom God has sent, the Messiah they have expected.
It is unfortunate that the peoples leaders, the ones who were the teachers of the Scriptures, did not understand. Therefore, the people did not understand either. It is a serious thing to be a teacher of God’s Word.
C. Bread from Heaven
1. Jesus refers to the “manna” that He gave to the people as they wandered in the wilderness, Exodus 16.
a. They expect the Messiah to do something similar
b. Jesus tells them that HE is the true Bread from Heaven.
2. The people want this kind of miraculous food. Compare tis with John 4:13-15.
In all of these chapters, Jesus has used a common experience or understanding to illustrate an eternal truth. At first those He speaks to do not understand, so He explains what He means. Some accept His teaching, but not all do.
a. The True Bread is a Person
b. The True Bread gives life to the world.
V. John 6:34-65
In this section Jesus uses some terms repeatedly. Since that is the case, this study section will only highlight these,. It is up toys, the student, to look at the verses and recognize the pattern. When there are words you are unsure of, get a good bible dictionary.
Jesus is now interacting with the crowd who had come to be fed again.
A. He has been “sent”
1. “Apostellō” – this is the root word for “Apostollos” from which we get Apostle
2. To cause someone to go for a particular purpose, to be sent;
3. Verses 29,38,39,44,57
4. What is the importance of Jesus being “sent”?
B. He has “come down”
1. “Katabainō” – means descended
2. Verses 33,38,41,42,50,51,58,62
3. Why does He repeat this so often?
C. “Raise up”
1. “Antistami” – raise to existence
2. Verses 39,40,43,54
3. Raising up to what? When? Whom?
1. “dzaoe” – to live, not to die
2. Verses 33,35,40,47,50,51,53,54,56,57,58,63,68
3. What is significant about the way one receives this life?
E. What are the conditions?
1. “Pisteuō” – believe
a. Verses 29,35,36,40,47
b. What is the full extent of “believe”?
2. Eat, Drink – to “imbibe of”, partake sustenance
a. Verses 22,33,35,48,50,51,53,54,55,56,57,58
b. What is the significance of “eating and drinking” in everyday life?
c. What is the significance in receiving life? see verse 63
Some people today believe that taking”communion” or “The Eucharist” is when one can actually eat and drink of the literal body and blood of the Lord Jesus. This is known as “transubstantiation”, in which words spoken by a priest change the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Christ. There is NOTHING in Scripture to allow for this. Further, Jesus Himself declare that what He is teaching is symbolic, verse 63.
Eating and Drinking means a full partaking, receiving into ones self for life-giving sustenance. It is the coming crucifixion and resurrection of Christ that Jesus is speaking of partaking in. Read Matthew 4:4 (where does this verse come from in Deuteronomy?)
F. Other comparisons/contrasts
1. Manna from Heaven – Bread from Heaven
2. Eating and Drinking again – Hungering and Thirsting never again
3. Doing the work of God – God gives life and God draws people apart from deeds
Two principles of Bible study are seen in this passage: Look for repetitive words/phrases; look for comparisons/contrasts.
VI. People’s Response
A. They find Jesus’ teaching hard, difficult
1. Struggle with Jesus’ claim of being sent – why?
2. Murmured – that is, they complained in muttering to one another
3. Offended by the Truth – Truth often offends people (see Luke 2:34)
4. Walked away, verse 66.
B. Jesus’ words are spiritual, life-giving
1. Good deeds have no place in receiving life – only one who has life can do anything at all. (see Ephesians 2:1-10)
2. God the Father is the One who draws and gives
3. There is no other way
4. Peter’s response, verse 68.
VII. Truths Presented
A. Spiritual food and Drink are required
1. Jesus is the True bread
2. Jesus is Eternal Life
B. God the Father draws people to Christ
1. Through the preaching of the Word
2. The Word of God reveals Jesus Christ and is spiritual sustenance
C. A personal response is necessary
1. No response is a response
2. Whose will ?
3. Are Christ’s words too hard for me?
4. Will I follow Him regardless of the crowd?