v1-15 - Two things stand out in Jesus' actions in this opening passage in which He feeds the 5,000.
First, the crowd is back. They've heard of the miracle man, and when they hear He's nearby, they flock out, hoping to see a miracle for themselves.
Yet Jesus doesn't take advantage of this popularity, rather He goes in the opposite direction, up on a mountainside to pray.
You will have all sorts of things vying for your attention today. Make sure to follow Jesus' example and find lots of opportunities to retreat from the busyness to spend time in prayer.
Second, Jesus is given a massive opportunity to consolidate His power with a large group of people who want to make Him king (v15).
Certainly this wasn't Jesus' plan A, but certainly He could have adapted to this tremendous possibility, right? Imagine how much good He could do as their king, reforming the establishment and implement Godly values in Israel again!
Yet Jesus resists this temptation, knowing that God's will was for Him to die a cursed death, so that He could rise to new life and usher in a much larger kingdom! So once again, Jesus withdraws from the crowd into solitude.
v16-59 - John doesn't make a big deal about the walking on water miracle, and certainly the crowd doesn't know anything about it, so when after what must have been a comical scene of going back and forth across the lake to find the reclusive rabbi, they finally catch up with Him.
Jesus knows they're only after His ability to miraculously meet their immediate felt needs.
Jesus tells them not to seek the kind of ordinary bread He'd just fed them with on the mountain, but to seek the bread of God.
Things get a little weird for the Jews
when they here Jesus make the claim that "I AM the bread of life... that has come down from heaven... and all that believe into me shall have eternal life."
How can this itinerant rabbi, who grew up among them, claim to be from heaven?
Things get even weirder for them when Jesus expands the metaphor.
Not only is Jesus the bread of life, but He goes on to say that the key to eternal life is eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
We have the benefit of having Paul's epistles which explain this concept that we've been made one with Christ, in a real and substantial way as if we really had eaten and drank of His flesh and blood, but put yourself in the shoes of these early Jews. Jesus' words here sound really strange. This gives you a little sense of what it's like for an unbeliever to hear some of the Christian doctrines and customs for the first time that we just assume everyone understands.
v60-70 - For many of the people following Jesus, this talk of eating flesh and drinking blood were the final straw, and they turned back.
Jesus responds somewhat humorously. He says in a sense, 'if you think this is weird, just wait till you see me ascend to where I came from. That will really weird you out! (v62)'
In other words, we have such a bad habit of wanting to evaluate the things of God according to our own standards and preconceived notions. Yet the Kingdom of God is so vastly different than anything we can imagine, and we must let it define our reality, not the other way around.
Jesus point blank asks if the 12 disciples want to turn back as well, and Peter responds with an awesome answer:
Lord to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe that you are the Holy One of God (v68-69)
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE: Jesus refers often in this chapter to the bread like manna that God provided for the Israelites in the desert. Read about how they began to grumble about the manna in Numbers 11:4-15 and notice that in John 6 they grumble about the Bread of Life the same way they grumbled about the manna.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Which one of the disciples told Jesus about the boy who had five barley loaves and two fish? (See verse 8.)
What are some different ways that people grumble about and reject Jesus' message today?
Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, the giver of the bread of life (v32)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God grants you the ability to do His work - that is believing with your whole being into the one He sent (v29)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: