6:1 Some time after this [indefinite period of time; John does not specify the exact lapse of time (perhaps a year) between the events of chapter 5 (in Jerusalem) and those of chapter 6 (in Galilee)], Jesus [at the height of His popularity in Galilee] crossed [when He heard of John the Baptist’s death (Matt. 14:13)] to the far [eastern] shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias [named after the city of Tiberias, built by Herod the Great (as his capital) about AD 22 on the west shore of the lake]),
6:2 and a great crowd of people followed [continuous action: kept following] Him [to a town called Bethsaida (Lk. 9:10)] because they saw [actually had been seeing His miracles for some time (cf. 2:23)] the miraculous signs [and wanted to benefit from His healing powers] He had performed on the sick [weak, feeble, without strength].
6:3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside [perhaps to have some time alone with His disciples; Jesus always being pressed by the crowds; He needed quiet time] and sat down with His disciples.
6:4 The Jewish Passover Feast [one year before Jesus’ death] was near [late March or early April].
6:5 When Jesus looked up and saw [Jesus saw opportunity to satisfy a human need and teach a spiritual truth] a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where [what marketplace] shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
6:6 He asked this only to test him [Jesus’ question called attention to the disciples’ responsibility; He wanted them to propose some plan of action], for He already had in mind what He was going to do [He knew what was available and what He would do with it].
6:7 Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages [Philip saw cost or practical side of things; money is not the answer to every need; eight months wages approximately 200 denarii] would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
6:8 Another of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,
6:9 “Here [Andrew was busy bringing somebody to Jesus] is a boy [Andrew was observant; only John mentions the boy] with [the kind of food eaten by poor] five small barley [cheapest of all grains; considered an inferior sort of bread] loaves and two small fish [probably small pickled fish], but how far will they go among so many?”
Note: “Instead of complaining about what we do not have, we should give thanks to God for what we do have, and He will make it go farther.” (Wiersbe, Be Alive, p. 73)
6:10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit [recline] down [to facilitate serving].” There was plenty of grass [it was spring (cf. 6:4) and there was plenty of green (cf. Mk. 6:39) grass on hillside] in that place, and the men sat down [cf. Mk. 6:40 — “in groups of hundreds and fifties”], about five thousand [indication of Jesus’ popularity] of them [not including women and children; cf. Matt. 14:21].
6:11 Jesus then took the loaves [meager human resources in divine hands], gave thanks [a reminder that God is the source of everything we have and need; important to express gratitude to God for providing for our material needs; similar to what was done by the head of each family at the Passover], and distributed [disciples involved in this process] to those who were seated as much as they wanted [many of these probably seldom had enough to eat]. He did the same with the fish.
Note: The first question we should ask is “God, what do you want done?” — not, “How much will it cost?” We are not responsible for multiplying the available resources, only for bringing them to Jesus. We must not try to accomplish what God has asked us to do on the basis of what we have but rather on the basis of what He has.
Note: Verse 11 is a beautiful picture of evangelism:
• a picture that reminds us that we can only give to others what we have received from the Lord.
• a picture that reminds us that we are filled so that we can go forth and share with others.
6:12 When they had all had enough [completely filled; suggests an ample supply of food] to eat, He said to his disciples, “Gather [good stewardship] the pieces [excess bread rather than scraps; the pieces broken by Jesus and not consumed (cf. Mk. 6:41)] that are left over [Jesus was and able to abundantly meet needs]. Let nothing [including leftover fish as per Mk. 6:43] be wasted.”
6:13 So they [disciples] gathered them [Jewish custom to leave some food for those who served] and filled twelve baskets [Gr. kophinos: usually denotes a large basket, such as might be used to carry bulky objects] with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
6:14 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.” [The people were persuaded that Jesus was the political Messiah who had come to deliver them from the Romans. — cf. Deut. 18:15 / “Since Moses had provided food and water in the desert, the people expected that the Prophet like Moses would do likewise.” (Expositor’s, Vol. 9, p. 72)]
Note: The feeding of the 5000 is Jesus’ only miracle that is recorded in all four Gospels. Read the following accounts: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15.
6:24 [the following day] Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there [the place where He multiplied the loaves and fish], they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
6:25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
6:26 Jesus answered [Jesus told the people that they were looking for Him with the wrong motives], “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs [the people failed to see the power and generous love of God; they had not seen beyond the “free meal”; they failed to recognize the meaning of the miracle] but because [on the previous day] you ate the loaves and had your fill [the people liked the sample and wanted more].
Note: How does the content of our prayers reveal whether we are focused on physical or spiritual concerns? How can we put more emphasis on spiritual matters in our prayers?
6:27 Do not [warning against focusing attention on material things as our greatest needs; cf. Lk. 12:15] work for food that spoils [temporal needs], but for food that endures to eternal life [refers to Jesus Himself], which the Son of Man will give [only Jesus can “give” us everlasting life] you. On him [on Him alone] God the Father has placed his seal of approval [a mark of ownership and authenticity].”
6:32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth [Jesus corrected a misunderstanding concerning the source of the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness], it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven [manna; manna came to an end after forty years (Josh. 5:12)], but it is my Father who gives you the true [original or genuine] bread from heaven [same as “bread of God” in 6:33].
6:33 For the bread of God [same as “bread from heaven” in 6:32] is he [Jesus] who comes down from heaven and gives [continually; will not end like manna in he wilderness] life to the world [all people, not just the Jews].”
6:34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread [the people misunderstood and thought of bread they could eat (as their forefathers had eaten manna) with their mouths and digest with their stomachs].”
6:35 Then Jesus declared [Jesus redirected the people’s focus from physical food to Himself], “I am the bread [spiritual sustenance; spiritual manna; water and bread signify the life that Jesus offers] of life [eternal life]. He who comes to me [an outward, active response; means to “believe in Christ”] will never [stresses the absolute spiritual satisfaction that only Jesus provides] go hungry, and he who believes [an inward response; the life He offers is available only to those who believe; those who reject Him miss the life He offers] in me [Jesus] will never be thirsty.
Note: What kind of hunger and thirst does Jesus satisfy?
6:41 At this the Jews [used to refer to Jesus’ Jewish antagonists in particular, not to Jews in general] began to grumble [four of the seven uses of this word in the NT occur in John’s Gospel; to mutter or murmur with hushed voices so as not to be overheard] about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
6:42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he [the one from Nazareth] now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
6:43 “Stop grumbling [same word as in 6:41; unproductive muttering] among yourselves [they needed illumination from God, not from one another],” Jesus answered.
6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws [can mean “to attract” or “to drag” something; cf. Jn. 12:32; does not mean that God forces people to come to Jesus] him, and [note that those who come to Jesus have a new future…] I will raise him up at the last day.
6:45 It is written in the Prophets [cf. Isa. 54:13; Jer. 31:31-34]: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
6:46 No one has seen the Father [cf. Jn. 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:15-16] except the one [Jesus] who is from God; only he [Jesus] has seen the Father.
6:47 I tell you the truth, he who believes [continues to believe] has [a present and ongoing possession] everlasting [eternal in duration] life [an unending relationship with the Father].
6:48 I am the bread of life.
Note: Seven “I Am” Statements in John’s Gospel:
• “I am the bread of life” (6:35,48,51)
• “I am the light of the world” (8:12;9:5)
• “I am the gate” (10:7,9)
• “I am the good shepherd” (10:11,14)
• “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25)
• “I am the way … truth … life” (14:6)
• “I am the true vine” (15:1,5)
6:49 Your forefathers ate the manna [physical, temporary bread that sustained the partaker for a day] in the desert, yet they died.
6:50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven [cf. 6:41], which a man may eat and not die.
6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats [to believe in Christ] of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give [refers to Jesus’ death on the cross] for the life of the world.”
6:52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
6:53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
6:54 Whoever [those who accept by faith Jesus’ sacrificial death] eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day [cf. 6:41].
6:55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
6:56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.
6:57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
6:58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
6:59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
6:60 On hearing it, many of his disciples [those who accompanied Jesus and the twelve (cf. Jn. 6:67,70)] said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
6:61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling [cf. 6:41] about this [the content of His teaching], Jesus said to them, “Does this offend [Gr. “skandalizo” means “to cause to stumble”; cf. 1 Cor. 1:23] you?
6:62 What if you [those who did not believe that Jesus came down from heaven] see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
6:63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
6:64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known [cf. Jn. 2:23-25 re: what Jesus knew about people] from the beginning [or from the time these disciples began to follow Jesus] which of them did not believe and who would betray him.
6:65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me [refers to making a genuine, ongoing commitment] unless the Father has enabled him.”
6:66 From this time [suggests many left Jesus as a result of His statements] many of his disciples turned back [abandoned Jesus physically as well as spiritually; and returned to their old ways] and no longer followed him [one of the saddest moments in Jesus’ ministry].
Note: What has tempted you not to follow Jesus? What kept you from that course? Why do some would-be disciples today turn from Jesus?
6:67 “You do not want to leave too, do you? [context indicates Jesus expected them to say no]” Jesus asked [Jesus gave them an opportunity to respond for themselves and to affirm their loyalty to Him] the Twelve [refers to Jesus’ hand-picked group of followers].
6:68 Simon Peter answered [on behalf of the Twelve (with the exception of Judas Iscariot); cf. Matt. 16:16 (Mk. 8:29; Lk. 9:20)] him, “Lord, to whom shall we go [there is no other way; cf. Acts 4:12; staying with Jesus might be difficult at times, but leaving Jesus would be folly]? You [Jesus alone] have the words [Jesus’ overall teaching] of eternal life.
6:69 We [in contrast to those who turned back from following Jesus (6:66)] believe and know [their faith in Jesus was fixed and settled] that you are the Holy One of God [cf. Isa. 41:14; 47:4; 48:17; Mk. 1:24; use of this title indicates that the Twelve recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah].”
6:70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil [cf. Jn. 13:2,27 re: Satan’s influence on Judas]!”
6:71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)