Study Notes

John 6:1-15

6:1 To The Other Side

Herod Antipas built a city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, and named it Tiberias, after Tiberias Caesar. Because John is writing his epistle about 30 years after the resurrection of Christ, and his audience is the church, which consists of both Jews and Gentiles, he tells them both names that the sea was known by: the Sea of Galilee, and the Sea of Tiberias.

6:2 Because They Were Seeing The Signs

As they took off in the boat, a huge crowd went on foot around the lake to follow Jesus. We might think, "Alright! I wish we could get huge crowds in Cheyenne to follow Jesus!" But there's a problem here. What was the crowds' motivation for following Christ? They were not following Him because of His teachings. They were not following Him because of His call to be disciples, to deny the world and themselves, pick up their crosses and follow Him. They were not following because of the message of the forgiveness of sin that He was making available. They were following miracles.

The multitudes are walking by sight instead of faith, which is always a dangerous thing. Yes, God's miracles are awesome, and we desire to see them manifested here, as we have before. But that's not what we're going to follow. And unfortunately, many churches today are trying to get people to follow Christ in a wrong way - not by preaching and teaching His Word, but by getting them to follow miracles, signs, and wonders. And the insinuation there is that when we don't see miracles, God must not be here. So let's go somewhere where we hear there are miracles happening. And we become just like these crowds - running all over the place trying to chase the miracles instead of drawing near to Christ.

6:3 There He Sat

Why was Jesus sitting up on the mountain with His disciples? Mark tells us why they had come here. Speaking to the disciples, Jesus...

Mark 6:31-32 ...said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while." (For there were many {people} coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.

They all needed a break, a rest, time to eat. The ministry was neverending. There were always people that needed healing, that needed to hear the gospel, that needed to be loved and cared for. The ministry is still like that. There is ministry to be done 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. But if you do that, you'll burn out. Jesus said, "Hey, guys, let's go have a retreat, a time of refreshing."

You know the story of Mary and Martha. Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet, resting and relaxing in the presence of God.

Luke 10:40-41 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up {to Him,} and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;"

Distracted. Worried. Bothered. Is that where you're at this morning? Do you have so many irons in the fire, there's just no chance to take a break? Is your schedule such that you don't have a day to do nothing but just relax and reflect on the Lord and your life? Repent! Drive over to the lake and just take a break... spend it away from the business and with the Lord. Head to the mountains with no plan but allowing the Lord to minister to you. Jesus told the disciples it was necessary - and it is for you, too.

6:4 The Passover Was At Hand

Why does John tell us that the Passover was at hand? Passover was the holiday were they would eat the flesh of the Lamb. Jesus is about to feed the multitude bread, and then tell them that the bread is His flesh. By eating the bread, they will be symbolically eating the flesh of the Lamb of God, just as was done at the Passover! This is a complex picture that we will look at in more detail next week as we continue on in chapter 6.

6:5-6 To Test Him

Here come the multitudes, and Jesus knows they're hungry. So he turns to Philip and says, "Where are we going to buy bread for all these people?" Now of course, Jesus knew what He was intending to do, but He asked Philip to test him.

Why does our faith need to be tested? Why does God put us in situations that are so difficult? Times that are so hard, happenings that seem impossible to deal with? What He's doing is showing us where we're at in our walk. Peter said,

1Pet. 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;

The difficulties and ordeals you're going through are the tests of your faith - so don't think this is strange or out of the ordinary - it's a regular part of your walk with God.

What is the purpose of these things? James wrote,

James 1:2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have {its} perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The tests are for your endurance. So when God is testing you, you should actually be happy. Why? Because He only puts people to the test that He's going to use. A model ship is never put in the water - its seaworthiness isn't tested, because its never going to be used. But the Lord wants to use you in His kingdom! When God puts you into a test or a trial, be happy! He's continuing and completing the good work He's begun in you!

The one thing to remember in the midst of your fiery ordeal, in the middle of the test of your faith, is what we learn in verse 6:

John 6:6 ...He Himself knew what He was intending to do.

The Lord's got a handle on it, it's all worked out. The test is not for you to find a solution to the problem, it is to have victory in your faith that He will.

6:7-13 Two Hundred Denarii

If you're reading King James, you'll see that verse 7 says, "two hundred pennyworth." Now in our day, that sounds like two bucks, doesn't it? Actually, Philip said, "two hundred denarii." A denarius was about a day's wage for a laborer, so he's actually talking about over $10,000.

Of course, Jesus had no problem turning water into wine, so He's not going to have a problem turning five loaves and two fish into a meal for the multitude!

Giving Thanks For Food

Notice that Jesus gave thanks before they ate. There is the story of the farmer who found himself having dinner with an upper-class man. As he bowed his head to pray over his meal, the man said, "Come on! How old fashioned! No one prays before they eat anymore." The farmer said, "Although it has always been my tradition, you are right. There are some who live at my farm that never pray over their food." "Well, at least THEY are intelligent and sensible," said the man. "Who are they?" "My pigs," the farmer answered.

Some folks never even think to offer a prayer of thanks to God before they eat. For others of us, it has become almost a ritual that is said mindlessly at the table. Where is the middle ground? Where does God want us to be? Well over a hundred times in Scripture we are encouraged to give thanks to God. It is actually God's will for us, as stated so clearly in 1Thessalonians 5...

1Ths. 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

What should we give thanks for? Certainly for His provision, but there is a predominant theme that you'll find as you read through the Scriptures. About 20 times, we find the statement,

2Chr. 20:21 "Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting."

Giving thanks is not supposed to be dependent upon our temporal circumstances, but upon God's eternal mercy.

Giving thanks won't just please God, but will very practically affect you as well - it is the key to the peace that you're always wishing you had, but seldom do.

Phil. 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Many of us will pray in times of anxiousness, and we'll lift up supplication - petition - to let God know what we need. But how many of us give thanks during times like that? If we pray, offer supplication, AND thanksgiving, here is the unbreakable promise of God: He will give you supernatural peace.

It is my hope that you will begin to make a habit of thanksgiving in your life - and you'll be reminded of it every time you sit down to eat. Unless of course you eat like a pig!

6:14-15 When They Saw The Sign

Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men, plus the women and children, with this bread and fish. The Jews had been waiting for what Moses had promised in Deuteronomy 18:

Deut. 18:15-18 "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen...

Remember when John the Baptist came baptizing in the wilderness, the Pharisees ask whether he was one of three people: "Are you the Christ? Are you Elijah? Are you that prophet?" That's who they were expecting: the Christ, Elijah, and the prophet like unto Moses.

They believed that when this prophet came, the bread from heaven, manna, would begin to appear again. Here was this prophet who had miraculously provided bread - He must be the guy! They said,

John 6:14 ..."This is of a truth the Prophet who is to come into the world."

But He was certainly greater than that prophet.

King By Force

Certainly if he could do these things, He could overcome the Roman occupation of their land! They intended to make Him king by force. But Jesus knew that His hour had not yet come. There was only one day in His earthly ministry that He allowed Himself to be proclaimed a king.

The day that we call Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, and the multitudes cried out,

Mark 11:9-10 ..."Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!"

It wasn't time for Jesus to allow the multitudes to proclaim Him a king. That specific day was written into the future by God Himself, and was prophesied by the angel Gabriel over 500 years before. Gabriel visited the prophet Daniel and told him,

Dan. 9:25 "So you are to know and discern {that} from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince {there will be} seven weeks and sixty-two weeks..."

The Hebrew word translated "weeks" is actually "sevens". Just as a week is a group of 7 days to us, in the Jewish mind, a week could be any group of 7 periods of time. They turn out to be years - more specifically, the 360-day years of the Babylonian calendar that society was operating under at the time this prophecy was given.

This part of the book of Daniel was written in the "first year of Darius", which was 538 BC. Nearly 100 years later, in the year 445 BC, Artaxerxes did issue the decree to Nehemiah to restore and rebuild the holy city of Jerusalem - which you can read about in the beginning of the book of Nehemiah. We know from Sir Robert Anderson's archaeological and historical work that the date was exactly March 14, 445 BC.

The days are calculated by multiplying 69, times 7, times 360. This gives us 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC. At the end of those days, God told them that they would see their Messiah entering into the holy city as a king. 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC is April 6, 32 AD - the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem as a king.

But it wasn't time yet, so He slipped away again to the mountain by Himself alone.

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