Study Notes

John 6:16-40

The 5,000 have just been fed. Matthew tells us that after all the leftovers were gathered up, as the sun was setting, Jesus...

Matt. 14:22 ...made the disciples get into the boat, and go ahead of Him to the other side...

As we read these next three verses, remember this fact - that Jesus was the one that sent them...

6:16-18 Darkness And Aloneness

As they set out to sea, it was dark. There's something about the dark that makes everyone uneasy - some people are terrified of it. The beasts of the forest prowl about in darkness (Ps 104:20). Thieves and robbers hide under the cover of darkness (Matt 24:43). There always seems to be plenty to worry about when it's dark.

Sometimes, the lights can be on, but things still seem dark. Maybe your job is a dark place - you're always having to look over your shoulder to see if someone's trying to get you fired or ruin your reputation. Or the darkness is the blatant immorality of those you work with - always telling the dirty joke or talking about how wasted they got last weekend.

Adding to the darkness, Jesus hadn't caught up to them - they seemed to be in this one alone. Do you ever feel like God's left you on your own? Like He just expects you to deal with this situation by yourself?

Stirred Up And Strong Winds

So they're in a dark situation, the Lord hasn't caught up to them, and guess what happens? Storm! The sea is stirred up, a strong wind is blowing. They may have been uneasy because of the darkness, and bummed because Jesus wasn't there, but now they're straining at the oars (Mark 6:48), and being battered by the waves (Matt 14:24). A bad situation has just gotten much worse!

Does that sound a bit like your life lately? You haven't seen God in awhile, you're surrounded by darkness, and now you're in the midst of a huge trial. You don't even know if you're going to make it through this one. Where's the light? Where's the Lord? You don't know how much longer you'll be able to stay afloat...

Darkness. Aloneness. Storms. Remember that the Lord Himself sent them into this situation. Why? Often, He'll put us in a helpless situation just like this to get us to realize we can't do anything about it - that our straining at the oars is insufficient. The psalmist wrote,

Ps. 107:23-28 Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in {their} misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, And were at their wits' end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses.

Why does the Lord put us to our wits' end? Why does He send us somewhere that we'll be straining at the oars and being battered by the waves? So that we will cry out to Him in our trouble, and see that He is the deliverer of our distress.

6:19-21 Do Not Be Afraid

Here comes the Lord! He made it just in time! But even though they should be rejoicing, they're frightened instead! Matthew and Mark tell us that...

Matt. 14:26 ...When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.

You see, Jesus didn't come to them like they were expecting Him to, so they freaked out. I find that many of us do the same thing. We're in the middle of a terrible trial, a severe storm. Here comes the Lord with the deliverance, but we don't recognize Him because He's not coming through the door we expected Him to. He's not working in the way we want Him to. He's not providing according to our plans. So we freak out and get afraid.

If you're in the middle of one of life's storms, open your eyes to see what God is doing. Maybe the thing that's scaring you the most is the very thing that He's using to save you. He's telling you,

John 6:20 ..."It is I; do not be afraid."

Receive Him into your boat, and see if it doesn't immediately land where you're going.

6:22-27 Don't Work For Earthly Food

The multitude ask Jesus, "WHEN did you get here?" But He tells them "This is WHY you came here." Remember last week, John told us that...

John 6:2 ...A great multitude was following Him, because they were seeing the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.

They WERE following their sight. But now Jesus tells them that they're NOW following their stomachs. We're all guilty of this - following temporary physical desires instead of investing in eternal spiritual treasures. We put so much time and energy into things that are going to pass away. We worry and labor over things that God wants us to let Him take care of. Jesus said in Matthew 6,

Matt. 6:31-33 "Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

So He says here to them and us,

John 6:27 "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life..."

In other words, "You guys went to all this work of sailing over here, some of you running over here... just to see if you could get another free meal out of Me. You're hungry again because the food you eat perishes - it gets digested and eliminated. Instead, you should be laboring for the food that endures forever - the food that I desire to give to you."

What food is He talking about? How can they work for this food? They ask him this in the next verse...

6:28-29 Works Vs. Work

Notice that they asked what "the WORKS of God" were. Jesus tells them "the WORK" of God. This is the work of God - this how they can work for that food - that they believe in Jesus Christ. It is a singular thing.

Too many of us think that we must do many things, that there's got to be something besides just believing in Jesus Christ. But there's not. Ephesians 2 says,

Eph. 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We think, "I've got to do good works so that God will like me better, so that I'll be worthy of salvation, so that I'll be in favor with God. But what we don't understand is that any good works we do, God created beforehand for us to do. So our good works don't give us favor with God - we are able to do good works because we already have favor with God.

Believe In Him

If believing in Jesus Christ is the one work that we're expected to do, we should put our whole effort into it. The word "believe" means "to commit your trust to," or "be committed to." If we say that we believe in Christ, we need to be fully and completely committed to Him - with every area of our lives. Not just in church, not just around Christians, but fully, entirely, completely committed in every area and aspect of our work, our recreation, our relationships, our thoughts... everything. That's what "believing" really means.

6:30-31 Believing Signs

Here they are back to bread again. "You want us to believe in you? Show us a sign! How about bread? Give us some bread to eat!" Of course, this same multitude had already seen that sign just yesterday. One thing about a faith that's based on miracles, its appetite is never satisfied.

Our faith is not to be by sight, because then it's not faith! The very definition of faith is about not seeing it.

Hebr. 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of {things} hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Remember what Jesus told Thomas?

John 20:29 ..."Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."

Many of us are guilty of thinking, "If Joe at work could just see a miraculous healing, I know he'd get saved! If God would just supernaturally appear to my brother-in-law, I know he'd become a Christian!" But it's not true. Don't forget that the Israelites in the desert fell into faithlessness all the time, yet every morning they saw the miracle of manna. Every afternoon, they saw the pillar of cloud, and every night, they followed the pillar of fire. Yet, in spite of all these miracles, they were always in unbelief.

The true desire for miracles is evidenced in the multitudes' request: "Give us." Many people's true motivation in desiring signs and wonders is that they want God to give to them.

6:32 It Is Not Moses

Jesus corrects them, "Wait a minute, multitude." It wasn't Moses who provided the manna - it was God. Too often, we're guilty of looking at the messenger instead of the Messiah. We look at the delivery boy instead of the Deliverer. Moses was just the mailman. The package came from God.

6:33-35 I Am The Bread

Here Jesus says that the manna which came down from heaven was a picture of Himself. Maybe you're not familiar with manna. What is it? Actually, that's what the word manna means, "What is it?"

In the book of Exodus, when the Israelites were in the desert with no food, God provided miraculously for them. Six days a week, when they woke up in the morning, there it was on the earth - bread from heaven. It was sweet, tasting like wafers with honey. It was white, having the appearance of coriander seed.

God gave them specific instructions about gathering it. Each man was responsible to gather for his tent. They were not to try and eat yesterday's manna, because it would breed worms and become foul. Instead, they had to gather it each day, specifically, in the morning, because when the sun got hot, it would melt.

Jesus here says that He is the true bread from heaven. And as we look at it, we find that it is a perfect picture of Christ:

1) These people that God loved were in the wilderness, and would die without His intervention. He supernaturally sent bread from heaven, perfectly providing for their need. All the people of the world are in the same situation - wandering in a wilderness of sin, doomed to die, because the wages of sin is death. But God intervenes and supernaturally sends down Jesus Christ. His perfect provision for exactly what we need.

2) The bread had to be gathered, appropriated. It didn't jump into everybody's tent; each man had to gather for himself and his family. Whoever refused to gather it himself would die. We see the same circumstance with the Savior. He is there, available. Anyone who desires the Bread of Life may gather Him.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Rom. 10:13 ..."WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD will be saved."

3) If the men were faithful to gather it, then everyone in the house could eat of it as well. We see that principle in the work of Christ. If you as a father or single mom are faithful to gather the Bread of Life and bring Him into your household, then each member of your family will have an opportunity to partake of Him as well. Sure, they can be stubborn and refuse to eat, but without your gathering, they will surely starve.

Remember the circumstances of the Philippian jailer. When an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison that Paul and Silas were in, all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. Thinking that the prisoners had escaped, the jailer drew his sword to kill himself.

Acts 16:28-34 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here!" And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.

If the head of the house is faithful to gather the Bread of Life, then all in the house have their own opportunity to partake of that bread.

4) They also couldn't hoard it - try and keep it for another day. They couldn't load up on Sunday to have enough for the week. The manna had to gathered every single day. Old manna would rot and become foul. So too with our gathering the Bread of Life. We must appropriate Him every day. You can't eat from the devotions and reading you had last week. You can't depend on the Bible study and prayer that you had last month. You must seek Christ new each day.

5) It had to be gathered in the morning. When the sun came out, it would melt. This is an important principle to understand. David wrote in Psalm 5,

Ps. 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.

We must seek God daily in the morning. If you wait, if you think, "Oh, I'll catch Him on my lunch hour" or "Lord, I'll seek you tonight after dinner," then the opportunity for victory in your day will certainly be gone. The sun gets hot and melts it away. What does the sun represent? Affliction and persecution. By the time lunchtime comes around, you've been afflicted with trials and tribulations. You've been persecuted. And you weren't prepared for it, because you didn't gather the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, that morning.

Manna is a perfect picture of Jesus Christ. There are many more details we could examine if we had the time: It was compared to seed, and so is Christ. It was white and pure, just as Christ is pure, sinless, dressed in white. It was sweet like honey, and so is the Lord Jesus Christ. As the psalmist wrote,

Ps. 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good...

Jesus certainly is the true Bread from Heaven, the Bread of Life.

6:36-40 Come To me

Jesus tells the multitude, as He tells us today, that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. We're all trapped in a wilderness of sin, a death sentence hanging around our necks, because the wages of sin is death. God has supernaturally provided the Bread of Life, His own Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus took that death sentence of ours on Himself when He died on the cross. And if we just believe, if we just receive that, then we will live eternally with Him.