After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.
It was nearly time for the Passover, a Jewish festival.
When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming his way, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for all these people to eat?” (He said this to test him, after all he knew what he was about to do.)
Philip answered him, “Six months’ pay wouldn’t buy enough bread for each of them to even get a little bit.”
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what’s that shared between so many people?”
Jesus replied, “Get everyone settled and seated.”
Now there was a great pasture in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand of them—and that’s only counting the men.
So then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; and did the exact same with the fish—all had as much as they desired.
When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”
So they gathered up the leftovers, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets!
When the people saw the sign that Jesus had done, they began to say aloud, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
-Luther describes our daily bread as everything that is necessary and nourishing for our life—everyone having enough… What has been especially nourishing to you recently?
-John’s description of the place where the feeding of the 5,000 occurred, a wide grassy place, a pasture reminds us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Hold John 6 in your head as I read Psalm 23 to you:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.”
Jesus knew that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, so he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. Then, when evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, embarked into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum.
It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near to the boat, and they were afraid.
“I AM,” came Jesus’ response to them, “do not be afraid.”
Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat docked on the shore of Capernaum.
-They attempt to trap him and make him king… but Jesus is not that kind of king. When have you tried to make Jesus into an idol, create a Jesus of your imagination instead of the Savior he is?
-This is the second time in John’s Gospel Jesus declares himself the “I AM.” The name God gives God’s self at the burning bush—the one who is the beginning and end, yet also before the beginning and after the end… the one who overflows all bounds we would impose upon—that one is Jesus.
The next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also noticed that Jesus had not got into that boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had set off by themselves. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread, after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they too embarked into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”
Jesus answered them, “Look, I’m telling you God’s own truth here, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for perishable food, but for the food of forever, the food that the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father’s promises are sealed.”
Then they said to Jesus, “What can we do to perform the works of God?”
“This is the work of God,” he answered them, “that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
“Well then,” they said to him, “What sign are you going to do for us, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you doing? Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness; it says in the bible, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
“Listen to what I’m about to say,” Jesus responded, “it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, no it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I AM the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
“But I told you all that already,” Jesus continued, “you have even seen it, seen me. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”
-Can you hear them being drawn into the life Jesus offers to them? When they say “Lord, give us this bread” they are naming their need, and that they find it fulfilled by Jesus…
What do you need this day? How might that need draw you near to Jesus?
-It is amazing when we catch glimpses of God’s grace, sure there are a plethora of immediate causes for those things which fulfill us, but sometimes we can see, or at least trust, that their ultimate cause is God.
Then the Religious Leaders began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
They were saying, “Is not this man Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Jesus answered them, “Don’t grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in Isaiah, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; I have seen the Father.
Listen carefully to what I say to you now, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I AM the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
-The 6th chapter of John closely mirrors the exodus story—just as they grumbled in the wilderness escaping slavery in Egypt, so too folk grumble at Jesus…
How are you grumbling today? What’s making you grumble?
-Jesus is so much more than a man, in John’s gospel we are allowed a back stage pass to see the God who is the transcendent I AM in Jesus—see how the Great I AM continually reaches out to us.
Jesus came to teach at his home synagogue at Capernaum, but when he arrived his fellow Jews were squabbling with each other about his teachings, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
So Jesus said to them, “Here’s what I am saying to you: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who feast upon my flesh and imbibe my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds upon flesh and imbibes my blood abides in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live within the Father, so whoever feasts on me will live within me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
-Jesus comes to worship in his local congregation, and offers up a feast, reveals the feast already present in his presence, a True and Living meal.
Today, here in worship at your local congregation, where have you or will you find that feast?
-John’s most consistent description of God’s relationship to Jesus and Jesus’ relationship to us is abiding, the Son abides with the Father, Jesus came so that we might abide with him… abiding—sometimes we miss how physical that is, it is a child laying on his mother’s breast, close to meal and close to heart beat and close to the source of life… may we abide within Jesus as he abides within his Father.
When many of his disciples heard it, they too complained, “His teaching grows unpleasant; who can continue in it?”
But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does my teaching scandalize you? What are you going to do when you see the Son of Man returning to the Father? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit, they are life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”
Jesus said this because he knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.
“That’s why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father,” he said.
In response, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to leave me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus answered them, “Didn’t I choose the twelves of you? Yet one of you is a slanderer.” He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
-Jesus scandalized those who followed him, what about Jesus Christ’s life and message scandalizes you?
-“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal life.”