John: Lesson 8: Jesus Feeds a Crowd to … (John 6:1 – 24)

In John 2, Jesus went to Jerusalem for Passover (John 2:24, 4:43-44).  Now we find almost a year has elapsed and Jesus is back in Galilee with another Passover soon approaching.  This shows us John leaves out a lot, including the more important points we need (John 20:31). 

 

Jesus Feeds a Crowd 

Read John 6:1-4 

“the other side of the Sea of Galilee”: “the other side” was the predominately Samaritan side. 

          Who follows Jesus to “the other side” and why? 

 

       This is the second food miracle.  The first involved wine and this involves bread.  Discuss: Is John laying “bread crumbs” to point to another miracle Jesus will do with wine and bread? 

 

“Jesus went up on the mountain”: Here, the Greek text uses the definite article (the) before mountain.  Not a mountain but the mountain.  Jesus ended John 5 with, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me.”  This is a deliberate hint that Jesus is adopting a position parallel to Moses who received the Law on Mt Sinai (Exodus 19:20, 14:1-2; Isaiah 34:2-4)—but as the fulfiller of both Moses and the Law (John 5:39, Mathew 5:17-20). 

“the Passover”: When John mentions a specific festival, he wants his readers to understand what Jesus does ties in with the mentioned festival.  How then does what Jesus do relate to Passover?  First, we must remember that Passover involved eating.  So will the feeding of the 5,000.  

At each Passover, the Jews broke the Passover bread and ate the Passover sacrifice.  This was not only to remember their redemption in Egypt, but also to look forward to the prophesied, final messianic redemption.  

John links what Jesus did to the Passover feast.  We are to recognize Jesus as the One who fulfills the prophesied, messianic redemption as the Passover Lamb.  Like all Jewish feasts, Passover found its fulfillment and meaning in Jesus. 

Read John 6:5-7 

       What is Jesus doing with Philip? 

 

       What does Jesus ask and how does Philip not answer the question asked? 

 

Read John 6:8-9 

       What solution does Andrew offer? 

 

       What does he conclude? 

 

       What do both Philip and Andrew conclude about the supply versus the need? 

 

Read John 6:10-13 

       What point is Jesus making to His disciples when they collect 12 baskets full of leftover food? 

 

       What may John be linking the feeding of the 5,000 to when he wrote, “Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them…”?  What does that sound like?  

 

In verse 12, Jesus said, “Gather up (synegagon) the fragments (ta klasmata).  The early Church used synegagon to describe the faithful gathering to receive the Lord’s Supper (Didache 9:4, 1 Clement 34:7, and Ignatius’ Letter to Polycarp 4:2).  Ta klasmata became the term used for the “fragments” (Didache 9:3) of the Supper.  This shows the earliest Church understood John 6 to be related to the Lord’s Supper. 

       How did the crowd understand and misunderstand Jesus? (vs. 15) 

 

The Crowd’s Response 

Read John 6:14-15 

       What does the crown about who Jesus is? 

 

       Because of that, what do they want to be for them? 

 

The Passover Feast became more than a religious feast; it also turned into marker of identity for being Jewish.  This turned the religious feast into a time of intense, nationalistic zeal, like our fourth of July.  This helps explain the people’s fervor to make Jesus their “bread” king. 

So, Jesus withdrew from them because they were going to “take him by force and make him king” (John 6:15).  They identified Jesus as a new Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) when they cried, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14) but in the wrong way. 

Part of Jewish tradition stated: “The treasury of manna will again descend from heaven, and the people will eat of it in those years, because they have come to the consummation of time” (2 Baruch 29:8).

 

Context

John 5:1-15

John 6:1-15

 Setting

In the Temple’s pool by the Sheep Gate

Close to Passover on the Mountain

 Problem

Crippled for 38 years

5,000 hungry men (plus women and children)

 Solution

Spoken Word: Take up You bed and walk

Took the bread, spoken Word of thanks, and distributed

 Proof

The man took up his bed and walked

12 Baskets of leftovers

 Reaction

This was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus

This is the Prophet, become our “bread” king

 

 “I AM,” So Do Not Be Afraid 

Evening arrives and Jesus’ disciples get into a boat and travel back toward the Jewish side of the lake. 

Read John 6:16-17 

       What are the disciples doing?  Where is Jesus? 

 

Read John 6:18-19 

       What weather condition develops? 

 

       Who shows up? 

 

“They were frightened”: In Matthew and Mark, the disciples are frightened because they think they see “a ghost” (Matthew 14:26, Mark 6:49).  They were frightened because of that—but not only.  John wants us to understand what else caused them to be afraid.  

At creation, the Spirit of God hovered over the waters (Genesis 1:2).  With nearly identical language in the Septuagint, Job declares only God “walks on the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8).  What the disciples see is nothing less than the Creator in control of His creation.  For a moment, they are fearful of being in the presence of God.  If this is the case, we should find this understanding affirmed by Jesus’ response. 

Read John 6:20-21 

Psalm 77:19, referring back to the Exodus: Your [God’s] way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. 

       What did Jesus say? 

 

       How did His disciples respond? 

 

“It is I”: Literally, “I AM.”  Jesus declares what only He can claim: “I AM,” the One of the unconsumed burning bush (Exodus 3) who alone can walk on the waves of the sea (Job 9:8).   

“do not be afraid”: Words often spoken when God reveals Himself to his people, whether directly or through an angel (Genesis 26:24, Judges 6:22-23, Lk 1:30).  

Both “I AM” and “do not be afraid” testify to Jesus as being God. 

 

The Persistent Crowd 

Read John 6:22-24 

       What does the crowd realize the next morning? 

 

       What do they do? 

 

Psalm 107:1-2, 4-6, 23-24, 29-32 

P: Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 

C: Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble.

 

P: Some wandered in desert wastes … hungry and thirsty … and He delivered them from their distress.

C: Some went down to the sea in ships … they saw the deeds of the Lord, His wondrous works in the deep.

 

P: He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 

C: Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and He brought them to their desired haven. 

 

P: Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man!

C: Let them extol Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders.

 

 

We finish here because we want to study Jesus’ “bread of life” discourse in one lesson.

 

 

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