John 6:1-24 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
Comments for Study 7

John 6:1-24
Key verse: 6:5


I. "Where Shall we buy Bread?" (1-9)

>1. Where and when did this event take place? (1)

* John 6:1 "Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias),"

* "Some time after this" -John jumps ahead in time probably around a year. 5:1 says he was in Jerusalem for the "Feast of the Jews" (not the same as the Passover). Matthew, Mark, and Luke record several events taking place before this event that John skips over.

* This miracle is probably the same one in Mark 6:30-44 and Matthew 14:13-36. However some events are missing in John's account. See Mark 6:6b-7, 30-31. 45, 53; Matt. 14:13-14, 22, 34.

* "Sea of Galilee - A freshwater lake thirteen miles (north-south) by eight miles wide at the farthest points and 696 feet below ocean level. It's feed by hills to the west that are 1,500 feet above ocean level with Mt. Gilead at 3,300 feet. The snow covered Lebanon Mountains are to the north. Three small rivers (the largest the Jordan River) come in from the north and one river, The Jordan empties it to the south.

* Jesus went up on a hillside to use it as a natural amphitheatre. (Mk. 6:34)

* John 6:4 "The Jewish Passover Feast was near."

* "The Jewish Passover Feast was near" -This is the second of three Passovers that John mentions (2:13; 4:45; 11:55; 12:1, 12; 13:1). Jesus' ministry was three and a half years, thus three Passovers were observed. As a Jewish man, a descendant of Israel, he obeyed the laws concerning celebrating the Feasts of the Lord (Lev. 23). The Passover was to be celebrated in Jerusalem at the Temple.

* John also points out that Jesus was in Jerusalem some time later for the Feast of Dedication (10:22; 11:53)

>2. Who was with Jesus? (2-3)

* John 6:2-3 "and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples."

* "a great crowd of people" -the men count was 5,000; include women and children the number was probably twice as much.

* By boat it was a few miles trip and with a west wind behind them they would have crossed within an hour or two. By feet it was a 20 mile trip, either walking (the most common form of transportation) or riding a horse or in a chariot.

* "Then Jesus went up a mountain and sat down" -Jesus had plans. Mark says that Jesus "had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd." (Mark 6:34) Jesus had taught and healed many all day.

>Why did the multitude follow him? (2, 4)

* John 6:2 "and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick."

* John 6:4 "The Jewish Passover Feast was near."

* Their motivations were mostly to be healed, to see the miracles, and because they wanted a good shepherd leader as Jesus was. Some were probably making their way to the Feast of Passover.

* Most expected to see more signs and wonders. The miracle seeking faith was mostly based on needs, so it wasn't bad at this time. Later, however, this kind of faith did not grow in most. John points this out later.

* We must often examine ourselves to see why we follow Jesus.

* When we help people to come to know and grow in Jesus we need to see their needs and if possible meet them. However, we should never stop there. We shouldn't be carried away with physical needs alone. A spiritual need is most important.

>3. What did Jesus ask Philip? (5)

* John 6:5 "When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?""

* They were in a remote area so there was truly no place to by food. After the journey to get there and teaching all day many were probably hungry including Jesus and the disciples.

>What was his reason for asking?

* After their long journey and a full day without food, everyone especially the people were probably hungry.

* Jesus was also testing (training) Philip.

* What would have been a good answer? Maybe, "We have little money but if you are willing you can do something." By now they had seen Jesus perform many miracles of healing and changing water into wine.

>What did Jesus have in mind to do? (6)

* John 6:6 "He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do."

* Jesus had in mind to feed the people.

* This came from his shepherd heart according to Matthew and Mark.

* Jesus gave both spiritual food and physical food. (Mark 6:34-35; Matt. 14:14-15) He gave them spiritual food before he had given them physical food.

>In what respect do you think he was testing Philip?

* "buy bread" -In a way this was a sneaky question. Jesus used the word buy to play into Philip's character.

* To teach him that he had a human calculating mind so that he would change and start living by faith and compassion.

* So Philip could understand himself and God's character. He was still thinking on a earthly level.

* Why does God test us? To help us grow in faith and understanding of him and ourselves.

* Jesus recognized his ability, but with no faith it was not useful for God. So Jesus trained him. He needed to be properly directed.

>4. What was Philip's answer? (7)

* John 6:7 "Philip answered him, 'Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!'"

* An exact answer. No speculations. He was loaded with statistics and a quick calculating mind.

* Jesus had not asked how much it would cost, but where could they buy the food. Philip assumption was based on his character.

>What kind of person is Philip?

* He was a brilliant calculator and thinker. See his words in John 1;43-46 and Andrew and Peter's reaction to them.

* He was practical, "down to earth" kind of guy. During the last Passover he asked Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." (John 14:8)

* This kind of character is negative thinking, without faith with a tendency to gave up easily, and often talk with sarcastic humor and down to others.

* His comment was sarcastic humor.

* "Philip" is a Greek name, although he was a Jew. It means lover of horses.

* How can a personality like Philip's be helped? Follow Jesus example here.

>Did Philip understand Jesus?

* No as mentioned above.

* Why didn't he know Jesus' heart? Perhaps because in his heart he wasn't fully committed to Jesus. Instead, he had other hopes and dreams. In the parable of the sower he would be compared to the wheat amongst weeds.

* Christianity is God aware more than self aware.

>Did he pass Jesus' test?

* No.

* To pass the test would have been to come with food of some kind with faith.


* He didn't have faith and a shepherd's heart like Jesus.

* Later, after Jesus' teaching he became a great man of God. His character was reformed to become a strength for the gospel of Jesus.

>5. Why did Andrew do and say? (8)

* John 6:8 "Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up,"

* Is his response to Jesus similar to Mary's in 2:1-11.

* He's always known as Simon Peter's brother perhaps because it was a common name.

>In what way was Andrew's attitude and way of thinking different from that of Philip? (9)

* John 6:9 "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?""

* "Here is a boy" -He brought the boy and a prayer to Jesus.

* Andrew didn't give up like Philip did.

* He did all he could do.

* He didn't calculate and then conclude it was impossible and/or unreasonable.

* He found a boy and asked, took, conned, or even stole his lunch.

* In what way were they the same? Each was sceptical.

>What do we learn from Andrew?

* He took initiative even though he wasn't asked, but only after Philip had no solution. He didn't exclude himself from the responsibility.

* He could have been grateful that Jesus didn't ask him this hard question.

* His actions, faith and words showed leadership potential.
    1) Leaders have positive faith.
    2) Leaders take initiative.
    3) Leaders personally identify with those they lead.
    4) Leaders bring something to Jesus in prayer as a possible solution to a need/problem.

II. "Have the People sit Down." (10)

>6. What did Jesus instruct his disciples to do? (10)

* John 6:10 "Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them."

* Jesus didn't comment to either Andrew or Philip.

* Jesus didn't do it himself. He had the disciples participate.


* 1) To arrange and organize the people so that there would be a good environment for distribution of the food.
    2) To teach the disciples to have a sense of stewardship by participating. Most likely each had a group that they were to serve. Jesus had often taught that the greatest are the servants in his kingdom.
    3) The people might have rushed for the food and hurt one another. This prepared their minds and bodies and gave them a good few of Jesus.

>What is the significance of his instruction?

* Jesus was training the disciples for leadership roles by participation.

* The organizing would not have been easy with so many people, perhaps one hundred per apostle.

* The Galilean fisherman would have never seen this big of a crowd except in Jerusalem for the feasts.

* Learn the skills of leadership by getting involved in Jesus' work and church.

III. Jesus then Took the Loaves (11-15)

>7. What did Jesus do? (11)

* John 6:11 "Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish."

* This wasn't much, but he accepted, thanked God, and then distributed

>Why did he give thanks?

* It gives God the honor.

* Because it recognizes that it was God who provided.

* Perhaps he thanked God for giving Andrew a little faith too.

>What can we learn here?

* The blessings of faith.

* To have a thanksgiving heart.

* To give freely.

* Jesus accepts humble offerings and blesses them.\

* God always can work even when men think that it is impossible.

* To see five loaves and two fish as solution to every training obstacle that God puts before us.

>8. What was the result? (12)

* John 6:12-13 "When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten."

* "they all had enough to eat"

* "pieces that are left over"

>How does the author show the abundance of Jesus' provision for the crowd?

* "twelve baskets" -each disciple collected a basket full. They started with none and by obedient servant ship and faith ended up some for themselves.

* "Gather the pieces left over" -Each could personally experience and think about what was done as they picked up.

* Concluding a miracle properly is important.

* Jesus didn't waste anything even though he could have made more the next day.

* We shouldn't let God's blessing go to waste.

>9. Why did Jesus not accept their offer of being their king? (14-15)

* John 6:14-15 "After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. "

* "the prophet" -Referring to the last Old Testament prophecy, ""See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." (Malachi 4:5-6))

* "by force" -Jesus had clear perspective of his mission. He would not be forced. This was not God'ís idea.

* His actions could be seen as insulting to human eyes, but he didn't care for obedience to God was more important. He knew he had be either be rejected or accepted by the Jewish leadership first and foremost. If he wouldn't then a civil war would most likely result. He did not come to cause the house of Judah to be in a civil war.

>10. What can we learn from this event about Jesus? Think especially about his care of the crowds, about his power of sufficient supply for the needy 5,000, and about his training of his disciples.

* Jesus' loving shepherd heart for those who came to him. He wanted to bless them.

* He desires for us to learn and grow into spiritual people that live by faith.

* he tests us so that we will grow to be the person he desires us to be.

* He wants us to show obedience and faith that honors God.

* He has the power to do anything and wants us to have faith in that.

* He always wants a good conclusion, nothing wasted.

* He sought God's will not man's will.

* Mark and John have a different focus. Mark focus' on Jesus' shepherd heart. John focuses on training the disciples.

IV. Jesus Walks on the Water (16-24)

>11. Why do you think Jesus had not yet joined his disciples? (16; Matthew 14:22-23)

* John 6:16-17 "When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them."

* Mark and Matthew tells us that Jesus told them to get into the boat and go on ahead of him. (Matt. 14:22-23)

* Originally Jesus brought his disciples to pray and have quiet time. However, the crowds made that impossible.

* Jesus set the stage for training the disciples with the previous and the next events.

>Why were the disciples terrified? (18-19)

* John 6:18-19 "A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified."

* "A strong wind was blowing" -the quick drop from the mountains and hills to the sea often causes squalls to quickly develop.

* The fisherman disciples were use to these storms.

* First, they were stuck in the middle of the lake during a squall and second because of Jesus walking on the water.

>How did Jesus comfort his disciples? (20)

* John 6:20 "But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid.""

* By revealing himself.

>See what differences Jesus made on his disciples. (21)

* John 6:21 "Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. "

* when Jesus is in our boat we can be at peace.

>12. What did the crowd realize? (22)

* John 6:22 "The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone."

* They believed that Jesus was still with them on the shore.

>How eagerly did the crowd search for Jesus? (23-24)

* John 6:23-24 "Then some boats from Tiberius landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. "

* They soon discovered that Jesus has slipped away from them.

>What do you learn here about the crowd?

* "in search of Jesus" -Keep seeking for Jesus even though it appears that he is no longer with us.