I am excited to be able to teach the Word of God once again this coming weekend. As a children’s department, we are continuing our walk through the entire Bible, learning that the Bible is all about Jesus. Last week, we learned that in the miracle of Jesus calming the storm, Jesus used the miracle to teach the difference between fear and faith. The two cannot coexist. Fear drives out faith and faith drives out fear.
This week, we are going to examine the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in John 6. Anytime you witness a miracle from Jesus in the Gospels, you will encounter the following formula: miracle, teaching, and results. In John 6, we see this formula. I want to examine John 6 to see what we can learn about Christ and about ourselves.
I. Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5,000
The first 14 verses of John 6 deal with the miracle that Jesus performs. People were already following Jesus, not because of the great teaching that He was giving to them, but because of the fact that He was healing the sick. People were focused on the physical much more than they were on the spiritual. Jesus knew this and was not surprised. He continued to perform miracles so that He would teach on spiritual matters. Jesus had been teaching all day long and it was now evening. The people were hungry and had no food. The disciples did not have enough money or food to be able to feed all of the people. Jesus was not finished teaching and wanted the crowds to remain. The disciples rounded up some food, the dinner of a boy. It was 5 loaves of bread and two fish. This was just enough food for one person and definitely not enough for over 5,000 men, probably more like 15,000 people when the women and children were counted. Jesus prayed and served the people with the food. The 5 loaves and two fish were multiplied to feed everyone there and then collect 12 baskets of leftovers. This was an awesome miracle. This miracle opened the door for more teaching. The teaching is what we want to focus on in this lesson.
II. Jesus’ teaching
In our lesson on the “Sermon on the Mount”, we learned that anytime Jesus preached or taught, He called the people to repentance and to follow Him. This miracle opened the door to teaching and that teaching was no exception. He called the crowds to repent and follow Him.
The Greek word that is transliterated into English as “repentance” is “Metanoia“. It is composed of 2 other Greek words, “meta” which means “after” and “noia” which means “to understand profoundly”. When the 2 words come together to form “Metanoia” we get “after understanding profoundly”. The word “Metanoia” in itself means a change of mind that leads to a change of action. So, the word “repentance” literally means “after you understand the Gospel in a profound way, you have a change of mind that leads to a lifestyle change”. This is a very different view of repentance than what most people have. The popular view of repentance is something like “to feel sorry about getting caught doing something (not so much sorry that you did it but that you got caught), to regret” yet there is not a lifestyle change because you usually find yourself doing it again (when no one is looking this time, and covering your tracks well).
Jesus challenged them to weigh the cost of following Him. His 12 disciples did count the cost. The crowds also counted the cost. They two groups arrived at 2 different conclusions based on what they had heard Jesus teach. When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, the crowds and the 12 disciples also came to two different conclusions. The disciples had already chosen to repent and follow Jesus. The teaching blew the crowds away but they were not willing to repent and follow Jesus. What are the results?
III. The Results
Let’s take a look at the crowd’s reaction first. They were called “disciples” because they were “following” Jesus. They were not following Him for the right reasons. Jesus knew this and He challenged them.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”
This message is just too radical. They understood the call. They understood what Jesus challenged them to do. They challenge Jesus and His message. The 12 disciples never challenged Jesus. When they understood the call, they followed. Jesus does not back down. He does not soften the message. He challenges them directly.
61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble?
As I wrote above, Jesus was not surprised to hear this reaction from the crowds.
64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.
He knew that they did not want to entrust themselves to Him. Jesus knew that they were just following Him for the physical benefits, healing, a free meal etc. Their final response reveals their motives.
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
Jesus knew what was in their hearts and through His teachings; He exposed what was there. They finally revealed their motives for “following” Jesus.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the 12 disciples. They had already chosen to follow Him. They heard the difficult teaching that He had delivered. Jesus knew what was in their hearts too. He challenges them too.
67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”
They respond differently than the crowds.
68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
Peter, the leader, took charge and answered for the entire group. Where else would we go? Who else has the Words of life? We believe through what we have seen and through the teachings that we have learned.
What about you, my dear friend, do you associate with the crowds or with the 12 disciples? Have you heard Jesus’ message and His calling to repentance and discipleship? How have you responded? Do you have hidden motives are you following Christ from a pure heart? When you come across a “difficult” teaching in the Bible, how do you respond? Do you attack the message or do you receive it in faith? May the Lord help us follow Christ from a pure heart, moment by moment, day by day!