John 6:1–21—Jesus Feeds 5K AND Walks on Water

1 After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. 3 Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. 4 (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) 5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked,“Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”

8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. 12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

14 When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” 15 When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.

16 That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. 17 But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. 18 Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. 19They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” 21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!

Points of Interest

  • ‘It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration’—John is framing the meal that is about to happen as a new kind of Passover meal.
  • ‘He was testing Philip’—Jesus isn’t genuinely confused and turning to Philip for help. Jesus has a plan; he’s just curious what Philip would say about the situation.
  •  ‘filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves’—there’s such an abundance that, far beyond having more food left than they eat, they actually have more food left than they start with.
  • ‘Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!’—as with John (1:21), they’re referring to the ‘Prophet like Moses’ (Deuteronomy 18:15). They’re so certain that Jesus is the Prophet Like Moses because this multiplication of bread reminds them of one of Moses’ big miracles; while the Israelites were wandering with Moses in the desert for forty years, God fed them every day with a miracle bread called ‘Manna’ . (IVP Bible Background Commentary).
  • ‘they were ready to force him to be their king’—this reminds me of Jesus telling his mother, ‘That’s not our problem. My time has not yet come’ (2:4). Jesus let his mother nudge him into performing a miracle; this time, he slips out. He has his own plan and his own sense of timing.

Taking It Home

  • For you: Put yourself in Peter or Andrew’s place in this story. You’re in a situation bigger than yourself, and there’s a need that you don’t know how to fill. Can you offer Jesus what you have and trust him to make it into more? Try this with a situation that you’re really facing.
    FF Family/Household Option: Talk about what is written in the “For you” section above.
  • For your 6: Jesus is abundantly generous in how he provides for his followers. Ask Jesus to generously provide for your 6. Ask Jesus if there is a way that he would like to you to be abundantly gracious with one of your 6.
  • For our church: It’s hard not to notice that after Jesus somehow provides more than enough food for a small village worth of people, no one stops to say, “Thanks that was really great.” Maybe someone did but John forgot to mention it, or maybe we’re just more selfish than Jesus and we’d would want at least one person to notice what happened. Or maybe Jesus also thinks that a thank-you would have been nice. Instead, everybody moves immediately on to deciding the next thing that they would like Jesus to do for them. Spend time today thanking God. Thank Jesus for whatever good he has done for you today, and consider particularly thinking to thank God for our church. If there is something specific about our church that you are grateful for, tell someone.