In John Chapter 6 a vast multitude of people had followed Jesus and His disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus planned to feed the entire multitude. Philip had already expressed doubt that it could be done, because they did not have enough money to buy all the food that would be needed to feed thousands of people. And Andrew expressed a similar doubt. John 6:8-9 says, "One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peterís brother, said to Him, There is a lad here, who has five barley loaves, and two small fish: but what are they among so many people?"
Philip and Andrew looked at the human limitations, and then thought that it could not be done. They did not have enough food, and they did not have enough money to buy more food. Anyone who wants to live by faith must always remember that with God all things are possible. You can measure your material resources, but donít ever think that God is limited by them; and donít ever think that you must have more material resources in order to be more effective in serving God. You donít need more money in order to serve God better. What you need is more faith in order to believe that God can do anything even with the small amount of resources that you already have. They who think that their ability to serve God is dependent upon the amount of money available to them have made the same mistake as the faithless disciples. God wants us to learn the same lesson that He was teaching the disciples here: that He is capable of using us without giving us more money.
John 6:10-13 says, "And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten."
There were 5,000 men gathered in that place, but instead of using any of them, Jesus used the fish and the bread that belonged to a young boy. Many times God uses children to further the Kingdom of God, rather than proud or unbelieving adults. We know that Jesus greatly loved children, because He said that the Kingdom of heaven was made up of little children. His exact words were, "Permit the little children to come unto me, because of such is the Kingdom of heaven." Jesus also warned of a severe and terrible judgment for anyone who would harm a child. And in one of His explanations of how to get to heaven, Jesus even said that adults must become as children in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Itís no wonder that Jesus used a child and the possessions of a child in this great and mighty miracle. Some people think that they have been used of God because of the size of their religious organization or some other measure that can be seen by the eyes of man, but at the judgment it will probably be seen that God used children to do His work much more than anyone had ever known.
John 6:14-15 says, "Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain alone." The miracle of feeding the 5,000 had its desired effect: it proved who Jesus was. We were told in Chapter 5 that there were 4 witnesses to the true nature of Jesus of Nazareth and one of the witnesses was the miracles that Jesus did. We live in a day when we know a lot about the natural world, at least compared to those who lived in other ages. Those who spend their lives trying to understand the intricacies and details of the natural world we call scientists. But God has the power to do things over and above the natural order of things: thatís why we call Him super-natural. Therefore, these astounding miracles performed by Jesus are evidence to prove that He was the Son of God.
Some people ignore the evidence, but the 5,000 did not ignore it. They realized the significance of what Jesus had done and they came to the correct conclusion: they said, "Of a truth this is that prophet that should come into the world."
After these people believed in Jesus, they wanted to make Him king. In a certain way, they were correct to do so. No one can truly believe in Jesus unless they make Him the king of their life. But the people lacked understanding to a certain degree. They did not know how to make Jesus their king. The same thing still happens to many believers. They believe, but they donít really know the things that you must know in order to walk with the Lord and make Him king of their lives. Jesus said one time that His kingdom was not of this world. In the age in which we now live, Jesus is not supposed to be the king. Itís not Godís will. At the Second Coming, Jesus will return and be crowned as the King of this world and every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess His Lordship. But those who attempt to set up some kind of theocracy in this age will always fail and will always end in disappointment. Itís a noble and worthy goal to make the world a better place, but remember that the real work of God is in the hearts of people and not in the political processes or politics of this life.
The crowd wanted to make Jesus king, partly because they recognized that Jesus would be able to solve many of the problems of their society. Some of the greatest enemies of mankind, hunger and disease would be wiped out with Jesus as king. Human beings havenít changed much. People are still looking for someone to solve the problems of the world, and when things get bad enough and they think that they have found such a person, they will give him the power. But when it happens, it wonít be Jesus who will be made king, it will be the antichrist. Do not fear. The Bible says that it will happen, but it also says that God will take care of things and will take the antichrist to his proper end.
The people wanted to make Jesus King, and this was because of their lack of understanding. Itís very common for new believers or spiritually immature believers to not know how to put into practice their newfound faith. It takes time to grow in the Lord and to become spiritually mature. The Christian life is compared to the growth of a tree many times in the Bible, such as in Psalm Chapter 1 where it says, "But his delight shall be in the law of the Lord; and in His law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water..." It takes time for a seed to become a sapling, and then it takes many years of growth for a sapling to become a mature and strong tree capable to withstand the storms and capable to produce a large quantity of fruit.
Belief and zeal are not enough to serve God the way that He ultimately wants us to. Unless there are those who grow in the Lord over a period of years, there will be none who will be wise enough to be effective as servants of the Lord in this world.
The work of God is not only to save people and bring them into faith, but itís also the work of God to bring those who are already saved into a better understanding of how to live by faith in a world of uncertainties. And so the next incident in John Chapter 6 is for the purpose of working in the lives of those who are already believers. The previous incident in the life of Jesus, the feeding of the 5,000, was for the purpose of helping people to come to an initial faith in Jesus; but the next incident, the miracle of Jesus walking on the water, was for the purpose of strengthening the faith and understanding of those who already believed.
God does not want us to stand still in our faith. He wants us to be able to go on to new heights and greater spiritual capacity. After all, one of the challenges of life is to be able to live by faith in God no matter what happens around us. John 6:16-20 says, "And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty furlongs, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the ship; and they were afraid. But He said to them, It is I, be not afraid."
One thing is clear; Jesus purposely did not go with the disciples in the boat. God arranged for the disciples to end up in the midst of the storm in order to teach them a spiritual lesson, and in order for the disciples to be better prepared to live a life of faith. There is a purpose to all things, especially for the children of God.
The disciples were in the midst of a storm. Life has its storms, and no one is immune from them. Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." The disciples had faith in God and faith that Jesus was the Son of God, but their faith was weak. They were not able to apply their faith or use their faith in the difficult circumstances in which they found themselves. If you are a believer, you will either fear your circumstances or you will have faith that God will take care of you. The challenge that we all face each day is how to apply our faith to the things that happen to us.
The disciples got into the boat and began to travel without Jesus, or so they thought. But Jesus wanted Peter and James and the rest of them to remember, and He wants us to remember, that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God will help you and that right early. There is a reason for all things, and some day you will be able to look back and say, "God was taking care of me all along in the things that He allowed to happen. There was a purpose in what happened, and God knew what was best." Hopefully, we will be able to say such things about our trials in this life. Definitely, we will be able to say such things in the next life, when God wipes away our tears, and when He reveals to us even more details about why He allowed to happen the trials and sorrows that came our way. We will sing in chorus, "Blessed be the name of the Lord, who does all things well."
One of the emotions experienced by the disciples in the storm was that they were afraid. But Jesus calmed their fears by letting them know that He was with them. He said, "It is I, be not afraid." The more that you I think about the fact that Jesus is also with us, no matter what we have to go through, the more that we will have no fear and will be able to rest in the promises of Jesus to help those that believe in Him and to be with them every step of the way.
John 6:21 says, "Then they willingly received Him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land where they went." The disciples were undoubtedly having a hard time rowing in the midst of the storm. The going was rough. They were not making much progress attaining their goal, which was to reach the other side of the lake. But things changed immediately as soon as they willingly received Jesus into the ship. The key word to note here is that it says that they "willingly" received Him into the boat. Even believers can have a problem with their will. There may be nothing more important than having your will surrendered to God. The biggest mistakes that you will make in your life will be when you are stubborn and begin to want something so badly that you are no longer surrendered to Godís will in a particular matter. But when you invite Jesus to guide you and to be a part of what you are doing, you will be able to accomplish everything that God has for you to do. Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
John 6:22-27 says, "The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, except the one that His disciples entered into, and that Jesus had not gone with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples were gone away alone: (Howbeit there came other boats unto Tiberias, near to the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks.) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, Rabbi, when did you come here? Jesus answered them and said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, You do not seek me because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the meat that perishes, but for the meat which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him has God the Father sealed."
The crowd of people suspected that there had to have been something unusual about the way that Jesus got to the other side of the lake, but the miracle of the walking on the water was for the disciples and not for them. Therefore, Jesus did not answer them concerning how He got to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Instead, He talked about something that was much more important for their own spiritual understanding. Why should He reveal to them another miracle, if they still did not understand the significance of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000?
As we will find out later in John Chapter 6, the spiritual significance of the feeding of the 5,000 at the time of the Passover was the fact that food gives life to our physical body and Jesus gives life to our spirit. Whenever you take food, you can remember that the food gives you physical life and that it is symbolic of the fact that Jesus has given you spiritual life. The reason that the people did not understand the spiritual significance of the miracle that Jesus performed was because of their motive. God looks at our motives. Itís not only what we do, but why we do it that is important. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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