MANY OF HIS DISCIPLES TURNED BACK
The Prophet Who Has Come Into The World
The tension between Jesus and the religious leaders is increasing, but so are the crowds. Jesus heads for the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberias depending on whether you are speaking of it from a Jewish or Roman perspective. The rumors are spreading about this Rabbi from Nazareth named Jesus, and when the people in Jerusalem saw the miracles of healing, they began to follow in large numbers. As the Passover nears, Jesus goes up on a mountain, sits down with his disciples, and then tests Philip by asking about where they should purchase bread for the people. John tells us that Jesus had already determined what he would do so this would be a living parable and an unforgettable object lesson for the disciples. Philip sees the colossal crowd and reasons that even eight months worth of wages might only provide a bite. Andrew introduces a boy with a small meal but points to how inadequate it is for such a large group of people. It is March or April, so the grass is green as the people are seated in preparation for the meal. The multitude may have exceeded twenty-thousand because five thousand was just the number of men present leaving the women and children in the crowd unaccounted. Jesus took the loaves of bread, gave thanks, and then began to distribute the bread and fish. The people ate as much as they wanted and the supply was never exhausted. When the people had eaten their fill, Jesus had the disciples gather what was left and they filled twelves baskets. The pictures were unmistakable as the Lord nourished his people in a desolate place and the twelve baskets indicated the supply for the twelve tribes of Israel. God had not abandoned his people, and when through Jesus he provided for them in the wilderness, the people could see the connection to Moses before their very eyes. The people declare that Jesus is the Prophet come into the world, but the focus was on the food and the hope of victory. Jesus perceives their intention to make him king by force. It seems there were many who wanted to force him into the type of leadership that would lead to rebellion and freedom from Rome, but Jesus did not come to be a political leader, and he slipped away from the crowd to the mountain by himself. Later that evening, the disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and headed for home without Jesus. It was dark, but some of these men were experienced when it came to the sea, and so they set out for Capernaum. The sea grew tempestuous, so the disciples began to row and after for three or four miles they saw what looked like a man walking on water. It was Jesus! These men were petrified with fear, and Jesus reassures them that they need not fear. They welcomed Jesus into the boat and immediately they arrived at the shore.
The Bread Of Life
The following day the people knew that only the disciples left in the boat and wondered about Jesus' location. They boarded boats that had drifted to their area after the storm and made their way to Capernaum to see if Jesus was there. Sure enough, they locate Jesus on the other side of the sea. They address Jesus as Rabbi and ask how and when he arrived. Jesus offers no answer and questions their motives for seeking him. He accuses them of seeking food and missing the meaning of the miracle. Jesus calls them to look toward the eternal and not the temporal. The Son of Msn gives eternal life for the Father has authorized him to offer the food that endures to eternal life. The people want to know what the work of God is all about and Jesus tells them that it is to believe in the one the Father sent. The people demand a sign as proof, and they point to what Moses did in the wilderness. Jesus explains that it was not Moses who gave the people bread, it was Jesus' Father gave the true bread from heaven. Jesus is the bread from heaven that gives lift the world. The people are eager to receive this bread, but Jesus explains that he is the bread of life and those who come to him must believe, and they will be satisfied. The people saw the miracles, but they would not believe. Jesus has com down from heaven, and he will receive all that the Father has given to him. Jesus came to accomplish the will of the Father which includes all the Father gives coming to him and his faithfulness to keep them. Jesus will fulfill everything the Father asks of him which guarantees eternal life and resurrection for all the Father entrusts to the Son. The people grumble just as three forefathers had before Moses. Jesus rebukes them for grumbling against him and declares that no one can come to the Son unless the Father draws them. Jesus is the revelation of the Father and only belief in him will grant eternal life. Jesus is the living bread that has come down from heaven, and he is giving his life for the world. The Jews are taken aback by Jesus' statement, and they argue about what Jesus means and wonder how he can offer them his flesh. Jesus makes eternal life conditional based on his flesh and blood. The people know that Moses forbid the drinking of blood and they are disturbed by what Jesus is saying to them. The Father sent Jesus just as he sent Moses, but Jesus is the bread of heaven that gives life eternal. Jesus says these things in the synagogue at Capernaum.
Many Disciples Turned Back
Jesus disciples struggle with Jesus' words. Jesus calls out the unbelief of the disciples and their offense at his words. If the disciples find this offensive, then what will happen when they see him hanging on the cross. If it is a struggle to believe that Jesus is the true bread of heaven, then what will happen when the Messiah lays down his life for his people and ascends to where he was before he came down? The Spirit gives life, and the words Jesus gave to his disciples are spirit and life. Jesus knew the ones who did not believe, and he was well aware that Judas would betray him. No one come to Jesus unless the Father grants it. Many disciples turned away from Jesus because of these words, and they no longer followed him. Jesus confronts the twelve and asks if they will leave as well. Simon Peter answers Jesus with the acknowledgment that there is nowhere else to go for eternal life, declaring that Jesus has the words of eternal life and believing that he is the Holy One of God. Jesus removes any pretentiousness reminding the twelve that they did not choose Jesus; he chose them including the betrayer. John offers the identity of the betrayer, Judas, the son of Iscariot.
Things To Consider:
- What are some wrong motivations for following Jesus?
- Why does Jesus test his followers?
- Why is it important to know that everyone ate their fill?
- How do we look to politics for salvation?
- How did Jesus withdraw from the crowd without them taking notice?
- Why do you think the disciples were so frightened by Jesus hen he walked to them on the water?
- Are you seeking Jesus or his gifts? How do you know?
- What do your prayers consist of most?
- In what ways do we work for the food that perishes?
- Why did the people ask Jesus to perform the same sign again?
- How does Jesus satisfy?
- Why did some of the people see the miracles and still not believe?
- How does this passage offer you peace?
- How does the Father draw someone to the Jesus?
- How do we receive eternal life from Jesus' life?
- What difficult things is Jesus saying to you?
- If someone turns away from Jesus, how can Jesus statement about raising up everyone that the Father gives be understood?