Gospel of John #8 – John 6

Jesus’ Galilee Ministry Moves On

The great miracle of feeding the 5000 propelled Jesus’ ministry forward in a way similar to healing the lame man – the Bread of Life message would soon result in even worse opposition by the Jewish leaders. The miracle was symbolic, intended to teach salvation truth, and it was critical to His mission because it was a sign of Christ’s dignity and seal of His saving grace.  The great sermon that was to follow would clearly declare the truth of Who Jesus is and What He is to accomplish.

This long episode (John 7-10) can be referred to as the “Great Galilean Crisis” – a great miracle, great enthusiasm, a great storm, a great sermon, great apostasy, and a great trial of faith.  There was a storm on the lake, a sermon in the synagogue, and a sifting of the followers (A.B.Bruce).  This crisis foreshadows the “Final Crisis of the Cross”.

In John 6:4, we’re told that the Passover was near – this is not so much to explain the crowd gathering, but more importantly it is a reminder to us of Jesus moving towards His Bread of Life message.  This also fits with John’s method of helping us to know the sequence he is following in his Gospel.  Jesus’ plan in John 6 seems to be First, to work a miracle to make the peoples’ “latent carnality” obvious.  Then Second, to preach a sermon that would challenge their carnal minds.  The plan generally worked – note the sobering result in John 6:66, many chose to leave.


Back to the Boat!

  • Stay with the Plan, 6:3 –  Note Jesus’ habit of retreat, quietness and solitude are important lessons for us.
    • Jesus knew His mission, every step planned to lead to the Cross.  He separated Himself from the dangerous enthusiasm of the thoughtless multitude, but a great disaster threatens the men out at sea which will lead these men into a deeper discipling relationship with their Lord.
    • A big “sea change” in Jesus ministry is approaching  (11:20) as He will pronounce judgment on cities of Galilee where He lived and preached.
    • We know we’re to learn from the life of Christ, and this habit of spending time alone with the Father is a “Primary” life lesson for us.  We live in a noisy world, we are overloaded with information, and I believe God designed in us the need for sustained quiet time, alone by ourselves, alone with Him, alone with our loved ones.
    • Jesus loved the mountains – Matt. 14:23; Mk. 6:46; Lu. 6:12; Jn. 6:15 – He desired time alone, to focus on the Father, to commune with Him and seek guidance and strength.

Bible Study Journal
Read Matt. 14:23; Mk. 6:46; Lu. 6:12; Jn. 6:15 (and margin references too) and make some notes about what you can learn about spending more effective time alone with God.


  • Take the Boat, Matt. 14:22-33; Mk. 6:45-52
    • Remember, take the time to read the parallel passages in Matthew & Mark!
    • Mk. 6:45 – Jesus stayed to work with the crowd, but He told the disciples to take the boat over to the “other Bethsaida” on the eastern shore.  Mark show Jesus telling the men to go over – was it a mistake or a divine plan?  Not only were they “not getting it”, they were getting frustrated, or worse…
    • They knew about the unpredictable weather on the Sea of Galilee.  Winds coming off the high mountains down to the Sea’s surface 3-4000 feet down to a “tropical” climate.  Three things about the storm: it took place at night – Jesus was absent – all progress was arrested.
  • Jesus Goes for a Walk
    • 6:47-48, He saw them struggling in the boat against the winds, and planned to walk to them
    • Instead of just jumping in the boat, He goes “alongside“ in order for them to recognize Who He is and ask Him to join them
    • Matt. 14:28-31, So Peter jumps in the water – “Lord, call me out there!” – maybe not so much faith as it was impulsive action, and not the last time this happens: Lu.22:33, “Lord, I’ll die with you!” – Peter overestimated his ability to trust the Lord – “Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison & to death” – so courageous up on deck, so timid in the waves, the disciple most likely to speak up when there was no danger, and yet cowardly in the hour of trial.
    • God has a lesson for us in this:  In Isa. 43:1-2, God’s promise to Jacob: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.”

Let Me Say a Few Words, John 6:22-40

This is Jesus’ great “Bread of Life” sermon, perhaps the most important of His three-year ministry.  It brings together all the themes of His offer as the Messiah to bring Redemption and Restoration to God’s chosen people, both Jew & Gentile.  He establishes His work of providing the “bread” of eternal life with God, and large crowd hearing these words had to link it to the bread He miraculously placed in their hands.

Jesus could see the looks on the peoples’ faces.  Hunger, excitement, physical ailment, anticipation of something else  special happening, many convinced He was destined to be made their king and deliver them from Roman oppression.  The dull rumbling of animated conversations continued as the day was closing, and Jesus could see small groups talking emotionally occasionally casting anxious looks over

  • The crowds show persistence
    • Jesus sees their selfishness & misunderstanding – 6:26, you seek Me because I fed you
    • 6:25, they were still demanding! “Hey, how did You get here so fast?? Why didn’t You stay with us and feed us more?”
    • 6:30-31, they want more dazzling proof of His claims,“impress us with action! so something greater than Moses”; so then they bring up the manna! –that was just the right segue for Jesus to emphasize the main point of His sermon
  • The Bread of Life Sermon
    • 6:27, this verse is an “anchor” statement: food that brings eternal life! – 6:32-33
      • If you have a “red letter” Bible, you can see that this is the first content statement by Jesus in this  chapter.  He is ready to move away from sensational entertainment and get to the Truth
      • The “sermon intro” – that prompts their question (v. 30, they still think God wants our works)
      • Now: the message…
    • 6:29-40, the Bread of Life
      • Spiritual works: faith in the Son
      • They want Him to “outdo” Moses
      • 6:35, I am the Bread of Life – God’s spiritual manna
  • The Realities of Salvation, 6:37-49
    • Spiritual Redemption, Eternal Life – All that the Father gives to the Chosen Ones
    • The one who comes to Me – faith
    • Secure in Him
    • Resurrection

One Thing Leads to Another

  • So, the people start with demanding (v25)
    • 6:41, And if they can’t Demand, they Grumble
      • The narrative alternates between the people in general and the Jewish leaders speaking up
      • Grumbling in a Jewish specialty – Exodus & Leviticus give us plenty of examples
    • 6:52, And if they can’t Grumble, they Argue
    • 6:60, And then if they can’t Argue, they give up and Leave
  • Weirsbe points out four ways the people responded to Jesus:
  • 6:67, Jesus to disciples: will you leave also?
  • Peter’s response:  “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
  • The Lord asked about commitment
  • Peter got it right
    • There is no other option
    • Eternal life in You alone
    • Our faith is anchored in You
    • Jesus response – the plan is set in motion

 


Keys to the Gospel of John

As you study John, be sure to keep these two sets of facts clear in your mind.  As you go through the book, you need to be careful to see how these themes work to tie the book together into a whole, making the mission of the book complete: John 20:31, “these things are writen so that you may believe…”.


  • Seven “I AM” declarations

    • I AM the Bread of Life, 6:35, 41,48,51
    • I AM the Light of the world, 8:12
    • I AM the Door of the sheep, 10:7,9
    • I AM the Good Shepherd, 10:11, 14
    • I AM the Resurrection and the Life, 11:25
    • I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life, 14:6
    • I AM the True Vine, 15:1, 5

  • Eight Sign Miracles

    • Turned water into wine, 2:1-12
    • Healed the official’s son, 4:46-54
    • Fed the 5000, 6:1-14
    • Walked on water, stilled the storm, 6:15-21
    • Healed blind man, 9:1
    • Raised Lazarus from dead, 11:17-45
    • Caused abundant catch of fish, 21:6