Right at the beginning of chapter 6, we find Jesus whom we left in chapter 5 in Jerusalem, now on the other side of the sea of Galilee also known as the Sea of Tiberius. John does not tell us the exact place Jesus was at, but on the other side of the Sea of Galilee you find places like Gadara, Abilene, Dion, Bethsaida and even further inland Naveh. Most of these places were in the current country of the now Syria with an exception of Gadara which was just at the north of the current country of Jordan. Wether these places are still called by these names in Syria and Jordan today, I am not sure. Anyway, Jesus was on probably one of these places on the other side or on the eastern side of the sea of Tiberius.
John 6:1-15 (ESVST)
1 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.
Now, this verse begins with the words “After this”, verse 4 which we will discuss just now, says that Passover which is one of the feast of Jews was at hand, meaning was near. Now we know that at the beginning of chapter 5 in verse 1, Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast of Jews. John does not tell us what feast it was. Now, If the feast in 5:1 is Booths, or Tabernacles, then at least six months passed (October to April). If the feast of 5:1 is Passover, then a year passed between these chapters. So, the gap between the end of chapter 5 and the beginning of chapter 6 might be anything between 6-12 months.
We see also in this verse that Jesus went on the other side of the Sea of Galilee or sea of Tiberius. This sea was named after an emperor of Rome know as Tiberius Ceaser as known in Roman history, Tiberius Claudius Nero, only mentioned in Luke 3:1. He was the stepson of Augustus, whom he succeeded on the throne, A. D. 14. He was noted for his vicious and infamous life. In the fifteenth year of his reign John the Baptist entered on his public ministry, and under him also our Lord taught and suffered. He died A. D. 37. He is frequently referred to simply as “Caesar” (Matt. 22:17, 21; Mark 12:14, 16, 17; Luke 20:22, 24, 25; 23:2; John 19:12, 15
Tiberius was also a city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee; built by Herod Antipas between the years AD 16 and 22 and named for the emperor Tiberius; a famous health resort; after AD 70 it became a center of rabbinic learning. Modern Tabariya.
2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.
As Jesus was on the other side of the sea, a large crowd was following him. It is not clear wether this crowd followed him from Jerusalem or this was a crowd he found along the way or when he got to the other side of the sea. Whatever the case was, the crowd was following him and it was a large crowd. John says that this large crowd was following him for nothing other than the fact that they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. At this point John has already told us about three signs that Jesus did. Changing water into wine, healing the officials son and healing the paralytic on sabbath. There are in total seven signs that Jesus did that John talks about in his Gospel but, we know that these are not the only signs that Jesus did but these are the ones that John chose to talk about.
So the signs that Jesus was doing on the sick, was the reason why this crowd was following him. This is exactly what is happening currently in the world where people gather in churches where the so called “man of god” are healing the sick, giving people breakthroughs in life and what ever else these men pretend to be doing for people. It is very sad to see how our people simply follow these “men of god” blindly. On the other hand these very same “men of god” prey on the desperation of these people to get help. Anyway, these people similarly were following Jesus simply because they saw the signs he was doing on the sick.
3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “ Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.
When Jesus saw this he went up the mountain, I suppose up the mountain was easier for him to preach as he would be above all. After sitting down, he saw how large the crowd was and asked Phillip where they can buy bread so that the people may eat. Now this means that these people might have been following Jesus for a while if he feels that they should be hungry. Jesus asking Phillip was just a test as Jesus knew what he was about to do.
7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”
A denarii which was the local currency then, was about equal to one day’s pay for a common labourer so, two hundred denarii would be about 8 months wages but, the crowd was so large that even this amount of money would not buy enough bread for all of them to eat.
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter ‘s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”
A barley was a type of winter grain. Peter is saying that there was a boy in the crowd who had five barley loaves and two fish but he said that won’t be enough for this crowd.
10 Jesus said, “ Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.
This number by the way is only for men, we know of one boy at least who was there and there were also women and other children as well. So, this number clearly was more than 5000 if we include women and children.
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.
Jesus took the loaves and the fish and gave thanks. How may of us give thanks before you eat? I think this is a good example that we should give thanks before we eat. The food was distributed to all and John says, as they wanted. Not only that, once everyone had eaten, the leftovers that were gathered up, filled twelve baskets.
14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “ This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
The crowd referred to “the Prophet” of Deut. 18:15. Moses was telling the Israelites or Jews that God will raise among them a prophet like him.
Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESVST)
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers —it is to him you shall listen —
Remember that Moses was not only a prophet but, he is the one who led them out of captivity in Egypt. He is the one whom God used to protect them along the way to Canaan. He is the one through whom God fed them Manna while in the desert. So, Moses was a hero. Now, Jesus came at a time when the Jews were under very harsh Roman rule that they despised. To them this prophet that Moses was talking about, was also going to free them from Roman rule and feed them just like Moses did.
Sadly, these comments that The crowd made that Jesus was indeed the prophet that Moses talked about, coming right after Jesus healed and fed them, indicate that the people desired a Messiah who met their physical, rather than spiritual, needs. Apparently, no recognition existed for the need of spiritual repentance and preparation for the kingdom (Matt. 4:17). They wanted an earthly, political Messiah to meet all their needs and to deliver them from Roman oppression. Their reaction typifies many who want a “Christ” who makes no demands of them, but of whom they can make their selfish personal requests.
Even Today, God is good as long as he blesses us with good things that we ask for. If we don’t get what we want from God then God is bad. God is good but he must not call adultery a sin, God is good but he must not call homosexuality a sin, God is good but, he must not deprive woman of their rightful place in society, God is good but he must change with the times. Really? God must throw away everything and comply with our own sinful wants and needs. You hear people saying, I could be a Christian but the bible is too backward.
I can promise you that Good is good because he is good. The goodness of God does not and will never depend on wether we accept him or his word or not. God will never change to accommodate our own selfish needs and excessive immorality. God will not change his word or himself to move with the times. It is us that must stop changing with the times and get back to the word of God.
Father thank you for this wonderful message. In Jesus name, amen.