The Gospel of John Commentary Chapters 1-11 (by chapter)

John 6:22-71 - The Message of the Miracle (and the Disciple’s Response)

John 6:22-59 - The Message of the Miracle (of Feeding the 5000) 

v22,23 On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone -however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks -

v24,25 when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.  And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You come here?" 

v26,27 Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." 

v28 Then they said to Him, 
"What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" 
v29 Jesus answered and said to them, 
"This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." 

v30,31 Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written,"He gave them bread from heaven to eat" 

v32,33 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true Bread from heaven. For the Bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 

v34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always." 
v35,36 And Jesus said to them, "I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 

v37,38 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 
v39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 
v40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." 
 
v41,42 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, 
"I am the Bread which came down from heaven." 
And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, "I have come down from heaven'?" 

v43,44 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 

v45,46 It is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 

v47,48 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the Bread of Life. 
v49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 
v50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. v51 I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven. 
If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that
I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." 

v52 The Jews therefore quarrelled among themselves, saying, 
"How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?" 

v53-57 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 

v58 This is the Bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this Bread will live forever." 
v59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 

The importance of this miracle is seen that it is the only one included in all four Gospels. Normally John only includes material, not covered by the other writers, but he was unable to leave out the Feeding of the 5,000. As such it is a key chronological marker in the ministry of Christ that links the four Gospels together. He now begins a new phase of ministry (from Spring to the Autumn of AD32 in which He was still based at Galilee, but also travelling to other districts, yet avoiding Judea (John 7:1), giving more intensive training to His disciples. This ministry is described in Matthew 14-18, Mark 6-9, and Luke 9:10-50).

The Significance of the Sign (v22-59). We saw that the people had mis-understood the miracle (v14,15). They thought it meant Jesus had come as a Deliverer setting them free from the Romans as Moses liberated Israel from the power of Egypt.  They did not realise He had come to bring a far greater liberation: from sin and eternal death. Because He was a promising Deliverer from Roman rule they sought Him out the next day (also as we will see, they wanted some more free meals): 

“On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples but His disciples had gone away alone - however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks - when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You come here?" (v22-25). 
They were puzzled how Jesus crossed over without a boat (see v16-21)!

When they found Jesus the next day, He gave them a talk explaining what the Sign meant and what it revealed about Himself as the Bread of Life. 
“These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum” (v59). He told them they were really just interested in just getting more food rather than the spiritual significance of the miracle: “Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (v26). 

The sign was to point them to the real (eternal and spiritual) food He wanted to supply to them: "Do not labour (spending all your time and effort) for the food that perishes, but (work) for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him" (v27). 

“Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (v28,29). The basic principle in God’s Kingdom is faith. Trust and dependence upon Christ is the essential thing that enables us to do God’s will. Good works flow out of this. Works in the energy and motivation of our own flesh are just dead works.

Jesus did the sign to prove He offers them spiritual food (the Eternal Bread of Life), to be received by faith (by eating it). Thus by eating this Bread we receive His life, by which (life) we may live a life pleasing to God. He was trying to get them focused on spiritual food, to be hungry and thirsty for Him but they kept pushing for more food: “Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the Manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat" (v30,31). They were saying: “If you are Messiah, prove you are greater than Moses. He fed Israel with manna for 40 years, so top that!” When Jesus made it clear that His true mission was spiritual not political (v32-59), many no longer wanted to follow Him and left Him, and this is also when Judas started to turn against Him in his heart (v60-71).

The True Interpretation of the Sign
 (v32-59). He tells them that this Sign was not given to establish Him as a military Deliverer (for they were comparing Him to Moses who gave Israel manna), for it was God (not Moses) who gave them bread from heaven. Instead He wanted them to think of Him in symbolism of this Sign to be represented by the Bread. God sent manna from Heaven in the time of Moses, but now God was indeed giving them something far greater in Himself (the Messiah), 
even ‘the true Bread from Heaven’: 

“Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true Bread from heaven. For the Bread of God is He (Jesus Christ, the Son of God) who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world"(v32,33). 

He also said: "I came down from Heaven” (v38). 
"I am the BREAD which came down from heaven" (v41). 

This is talking about the Incarnation. Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means ‘House of Bread’ - for it was where ‘the Bread of Life’ from heaven came to earth).

“Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always" (v34). 
However for Bread to give us life, it has to be broken in the jaws and eaten. Likewise Jesus offers Himself to us as the Bread of life by being crushed in the jaws of death, so that we can eat Him (this is a picture of appropriating His life by FAITH, of receiving Jesus). We must EAT of Him (Christ) for only then does His (eternal) life get imparted to us: "I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe” (v35,36). Coming to Christ (as the Bread of eternal Life) and eating Him is synonymous with saving faith. 

"Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has (possesses) everlasting life. I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE” (v47,48).    This is an ‘I AM’ claim of Deity by Jesus Christ, for He is saying that He alone is the Source and Substance of eternal life, yet it is necessary for us to believe in Him to receive His Life, just as it is necessary to eat bread to receive the strength and energy within the bread)” 

God gives His Bread (Christ) freely to all men, but not all will believe and receive (eat) Him. The believers will come to Christ to ‘eat’ because of their choice to receive Him (and His forgiveness and eternal life), but that is only possible if the Father first draws them - but God reaches out to all men (v44). 

Believers are foreknown (elect) by the Father in eternity, chosen from before the foundation of the world. In the eternal counsel and covenant of God, the Son promised the Father to be incarnated and give His life on the Cross for our salvation, and the Father promised the Son the gift of a glorious Bride composed of all believers: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me” (v37a). The Bride is the gift of the Father to the Son, consisting of all those who freely choose to be in eternal covenant-union Christ. The problem of reconciling the dual but apparently contradictory truths of Divine Sovereignty and human freewill in the selection of the Bride is solved by realising the Bride is chosen through Divine Omniscience of all possible universes (rather than God choosing some to be saved and not others). The universe containing the chosen Bride was given existence by the word of Creation.

“and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out”
 (v37b). To come to Christ is always a reference to saving faith when we trust ourselves to Him and receive His life. Here He assures us of our security in the love of Christ (see also Romans 8:37-39). If it is possible to lose our salvation it is not because He will reject us and cast us out, but because we have rejected Him. If we continue to trust in Christ alone for our eternal life and destiny, we can be fully assured of our salvation.

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me (Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s will. He lived in humble obedience to the Father’s will). This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him (1) may have everlasting life (as a present possession by the New-Birth); and (2) I will raise him up at the last day (physical resurrection)” (v38-40). 

The will and eternal decree of God is that all who believe in Christ, that is all who see the Son through the eyes of faith, seeing who He is (the Lord, the God-man, the son of God and the son of man) and what He did (in His death and resurrection) will come to Him and receive eternal life (their spirit is reborn,receiving the indestructible life and nature of the resurrected Christ) and that they are held secure in Christ, so that no power can take us out of His hand (John 10:28-30), until we are finally resurrected physically at the last day to stand glorious before Him, thus completing the process of the Bride’s redemption and glorification. 

However, not all will believe, for they just see Him as a man but deny His pre-existence and heavenly origin: “The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the Bread which came down from heaven." And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, "I have come down from heaven'?"(v41,42)

“Jesus therefore answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (
v43,44). Here Jesus affirms that the Father sent Him from Heaven as the Bread of Life. Those who come to Him and receive Him will be reborn and have a resurrection into an eternal state of life. However they can only come to Him in faith if the Father draws them to the Son through the work of the Holy-Spirit. We can’t see Christ or come to Him without His help because sin blinds and paralyses us spiritually. This truth calls us to humility before God and to praying for others that they may see Jesus. 

“It is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught by God.”
This shows that the Father is drawing everyone to Christ. Not everyone wants to hear what God is saying so they resist. Others however, hear and respond as God moves in their lives and He is able to remove their spiritual blindness (unbelief), so that they can come to Christ: “Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” The Father draws us invisibly, spiritually, through His Holy-Spirit: “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God (the Son who came from the Father); He has seen the Father”(v45,46). 

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who BELIEVES in Me has everlasting LIFE. 
I am the BREAD of LIFE”
 (v47,48).
“Eternal Life is in Me. Whoever EATS Me receives Eternal Life.” 
 

“Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead” (v49). 
“This (pointing to Himself) is the Bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die” (v50). “I AM THE LIVING BREAD which came down from heaven (the Incarnation). If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever (this is greater than the manna of Moses, for it gives us eternal life, not just temporal help)” (v51a). 

He restates these truths in His conclusion in v58: 
“This (pointing to Himself) is the (true) Bread which came down from heaven (see v51a), not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead(see v49). He who eats this Bread will live forever (see v51a)."

Thus in v47-51 and in v58, Jesus gives the central proposition of His message, in response to the people comparing His miracle to Moses.

Between these central declarations, v51b-57 provide extra explanation of what the Bread of Life is and what it means to eat of Him. He offers Himself as spiritual food, but now the image changes from Bread to the Flesh of the Passover Lamb (it was Passover time). It was exactly one year before His death on the Cross as our Passover Lamb at Passover AD33 (1Cor 5:7). His Breaking of Bread to feed the 5,000 was a picture of His body (flesh) being broken for us, to feed the world with eternal life.

He must die as the Passover Lamb, and as Israel ate the Lamb and were saved, so we are to partake by faith (eat and drink) of His sacrifice to have eternal life. It is available for all: “and the Bread that I shall give is My Flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" (v51b). “The Jews therefore quarrelled among themselves, saying: "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?" (v52). 
In their carnal thinking they took Him literally and were offended. They did not understand He was using the symbolic language of the Passover sacrifice. 

Later He spells it out: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. 
The words that I speak to you are spirit and life” (v63). 

“Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (v53).
Eternal life and salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ. We must come to Him, believing in His sacrificial death for us (for our forgiveness and eternal life), otherwise we are still under the power of death. We must partake of (appropriate, eat and drink) His life freely offered to us. That is, we must personally receive the crucified and risen Christ into ourselves by faith, trusting in Him alone as our only Source of life and salvation). 

Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood (believes in Christ): 
(1) has eternal life (as a present possession through spiritual resurrection in the New-Birth) and (2) I will raise him up (physically) at the last day (see v40)” (v54). The sacrificial death of Christ has broken the power of all death, and by His resurrection His life is released to us, so that if we receive Him we receive His abundant, spiritual, resurrection life in our spirits and bodies for all eternity and be delivered from death forever!

“For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed (it sustains our spirits and bodies for all eternity) He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him (through faith in Christ and His sacrifice, we are eternally united to Him in covenant-relationship and fellowship). As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” (v55-57). 

Here, Jesus makes an amazing statement. We are raised above the angels into the dynamic fellowship of the Trinity. The Father is the Source of Life and Authority for the Son (who is ‘sent from the Father’). The Son trust and submits to the Father, receiving His Life and Love from Him through the Holy-Spirit, returning Him in an eternal circle of fellowship (‘the communion of the Spirit’). Through His sacrifice we may enter into this wonderful giving fellowship (flow) of life. When we believe in Christ, we enter a relationship with the Son, just like the Son has with the Father! We trust and submit to Him, constantly receiving His Life and Love through the Holy-Spirit He freely gives us (‘we live because of Him’), so that by faith we are continually feeding on (receiving) His Life, made available on the basis of His death in the Holy-Spirit. As we return His gift of love (the Holy-Spirit) through our obedient works and worship, the dynamic circle of loving fellowship (flow of life) is activated. Thus the union and sharing of love between Father and Son, is also established between the Son and us (see also John 17:3,21-23,26).

The Sign verified His claim: “I AM the Bread of Life
.” 
This claim meant that Jesus is God and has come to give Himself to us as life-giving food, so when we eat of Him, we receive His eternal life. The Sign also shows how He would offer Himself up to die for us and be multiplied as the Bread. He would make Himself available to all. 

It was a prophetic Picture of Salvation for, Jesus (as the High Priest) would offer Himself (as the Bread of Life) up to God even unto death. He was broken for us on the Cross to feed us with His life. Then by God’s supernatural blessing, the Bread of Life (Jesus) was multiplied and distributed to all mankind, so that whoever would eat Him (receive Him by faith) would partake of His eternal life. 

Notice the sequence in v11,12: 
(1) Jesus TOOK the Bread (Jesus took Himself to the Cross) 
(2) LOOKING to Heaven, He gave THANKS, BLESSING the Bread 
(Jesus offered His humanity up to God in obedient faith, trusting and thanking God to bless and multiply His offering to feed the world). 
(3) He BROKE the bread (He broke His body for us on the Cross).
(4) He DISTRIBUTED (GAVE) it to the people (By His resurrection, He gives Himself to the world, offering them with eternal life for God blesses and multiplies Him to feed the world). 

To be effective each person had to receive the Bread offered to them: 
(5) They had to TAKE the Bread and EAT it. This is a picture of saving faith. It is not just intellectual assent. We have to personally receive (take and eat) Christ by faith, partaking of His life by trusting Him alone for forgiveness and eternal life. 

This is why this miracle was so important. It signified beforehand exactly what Jesus would do for us in His death and resurrection. 

Jesus also told us to enact the very same thing in Holy Communion, in remembrance of what He did on the Cross (Matthew 26:26): 
(1) “Jesus TOOK Bread”
(2) “and BLESSED it”
(3) “and BROKE it”
(4) “and GAVE it to His disciples”
(5) “and said: “TAKE, EAT - this is My body.”

Our Ministry today: The disciples shared in this miracle, for Jesus gave the blessed bread to them to give (distribute) to the people and thefood also multiplied in their hands (otherwise there would not have been time to hand out all the food). Jesus was preparing them for their ministry of the Word, for they would feed the people the Bread of Life through their teaching of the Word. Christ’s Life is in the Word, and by receiving His Word they will receive Him for: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The WORDS that I speak to you are spirit and life” (v63, also v68).  Through the miracle Jesus showed them the principles of ministering Life through the Word: Offer yourself and your message of Jesus up to God, trusting Him to bless and multiply it by His Spirit, as you break the bread and give it to feed the people (so in Acts 12:24, ‘the word of God grew and multiplied’ through the believers).

God gave Israel the daily manna to teach them daily dependance in feeding on the Word of God for spiritual sustenance and life: “He humbled you, and allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4). 

 They had to collect their ‘daily bread’ for the manna would not keep for another day. We need a daily devotional time with the Lord. Yesterday’s manna is no good for today. We need to feed daily on God’s Manna (the Word) for that is how the Bread of Life (the life of Christ) is given to us (v63,68). They collected it first thing in the morning, for when the sun rose, the manna melted. God’s mercies through His Word come “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). If we give ourselves to God at the start of the day, before the problems and pressures of the day arise, He will multiply the rest of the day to us. Any time we spend with Him is not lost, because His blessing on the rest of the day means more is achieved. 

John 6:60-71 - The Disciple’s Response.
v60 “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, 
"This is a hard saying; who can understand it?" 

v61 “When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you?” (Just because they could not understand something was no reason to get offended, but it should have caused them to seek Him more for understanding). 

v62 “What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before?” Having predicted His death for us, Jesus now predicted His resurrection and ascension and that it would be witnessed by His disciples. He is telling them that to follow God, we have to be flexible to give up our small, limited ideas and be ready to listen and go with God’s ideas. 

Although His death was the necessary basis, the communication of His life to us requires His resurrection, ascension and the giving of the Spirit: 
v63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” 
(This verse is very helpful to keep us depending on God).
“The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” 
The Spirit communicates the eternal life of Christ, through His words.

v64 “But there are some of you who do not believe." (Not all who seem to follow Christ, are true believers. They show themselves eventually by leaving Him as some do here in v66. These do not receive His eternal life). “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him” (see v70,71). Jesus knows those who are His (2Timothy 2:19). You can’t hide anything from His Omniscience. 

v65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me (believe) unless it has been granted to him by My Father(v44)." 

v66,67 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the 12: "Do you also want to go away?" 

v68,69 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life (Peter has understood that the life of Christ is communicated through His Words, see v63). Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" 

v70,71 “Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.”

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