Blog # 261 John Chapter Six - (Jn 6: 1 - 15).
In Chapter Five John has Jesus engaged in an extensive argument with people who had heard of his healing of a crippled man on a sabbath and in response to it began to persecute Him. Jesus defends himself by setting before them a claim to be justified in acting as He did. His claim is that God is His Father and all that He does is done in obedience to the Father. Toward the end of the Chapter John gives us an idea as to how frustrated and sad Jesus must have been in witnessing the unwillingness of the people to trust Him as a messenger from God in spite of the evidence he had shown for His authenticity in the miracle He had wrought. "I have come in my Father's name yet you do not accept me. But let someone come in his own name and him you will accept. How can people like you believe, when you accept praise from one another yet do not seek the glory that comes from the One (God)?"
Chapter Six has Jesus across the Sea of Galilee with a vast crowd following Him "because they saw the signs He was performing for the sick.". John throws in an apparently unrelated detail: The Jewish Feast of Passover was near." Both in the miracle of the healing of the man crippled for thirty-eight years with no friends to help him, and here with a vast crowd of hungry people with but five barley loaves and a couple of dried fish John has an occasion to call our attention not only to the power of God in the two miracles but also the compassion of God manifested in the compassion of Jesus. All of these seemingly insignificant details, taken together, are useful in helping us understand and apply the complete message John wants to share with us in Chapter six.
On the occasion of both miracles Jesus was challenged saddened disappointed and frustrated in the response of the people. In both instances the people responded with responses Jesus did not intend them to make. They missed the point or complete purpose of what Jesus had done.
In the first instance Jesus was making a claim for His divinity. Other Prophets, sent as messengers from God, were often authorized in their ministry through having miraculous power to heal the sick. There would be a danger of Jesus being regarded and counted among them simply as one of them and equal to them in His ministry of healing. That is where the detail of Jesus healing on a sabbath comes in. As God's Son, Jesus would have authority and power not only over the illness but over the sabbath law! His claim was to be divine, "speaking of God as his own Father, thereby making himself God's equal". (Jn 5: 18). Just try to imagine how Jesus, ever obedient to the Father, and as human as we in all but sin, must have felt, when the people's response to His miracle of healing on the sabbath was to persecute Him, and their response to His claim of divinity was to be more determined to kill Him. (Jn 5: 16 - 18).
In the second instance , the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, we do not have the problem of the sabbath. The response of the people was not that of rejection but rather one based upon a lack of understanding of the spiritual meaning and purpose at the root of the physical multiplication of the loaves and fish. In response to the power manifested by Jesus in the multiplication of the loaves and fish they hoped for a similar miraculous power He might exert as their king in doing battle with the Romans under whose power they now lived after being conquered by the Romans in war. Jesus did not come, nor want to be their king. He came and desired to be their God, to give them MORE than a king could give, to give them Eternal Love.
When Jesus realized they would carry Him off to make Him king he fled back to the mountain alone. He needed to spend time with the Father in prayer, to consider what he would do next. .