After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
- JOHN 6:14-15
John 6:1-24 shares the stories of two of Jesus’ most well-known miracles: the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on the water. John 6:4 tells us that these miracles occurred when the “Jewish Passover Festival was near.” This detail is significant because this was a time of year when nationalistic feelings were high. The Passover was an annual celebration of a time when God had liberated the nation of Israel in the past. Each year at this time, people hoped that God would once again free the Jewish people from the oppression they were experiencing at the hands of Rome. So, not surprisingly, we learn that the crowds try to “make [Jesus] king by force” after witnessing the first of these two miracles (John 6:15). Their thinking was that if God was ever going to free the Jewish people, it would happen under the leadership of someone with this kind of power.
Jesus rejects their attempts to make Him king. On the one hand, He does this because He knows that the “hour has not yet come” for Him to leave the world (John 2:4, 7:30, 8:20, 12:23). Being set-up as a king almost certainly would have led to an early death for Jesus at the hands of Roman authorities. On the other hand, He also rejects their efforts because this is not the type of king He came to be.
Jesus illustrates this in His next miracle, a miracle that He performs for His disciples. While they are out on a boat, in a raging storm, Jesus walks on the water toward them. This miracle is loaded with symbolism. Scripture teaches us that only God can control raging waters like this and that His control of raging waters signifies that He is King of all (Genesis 1:1-2, 6; Psalm 29:10; Psalm 77:13-19; Psalm 93:1-4). The point Jesus makes by walking over the stormy waters is that He didn’t come to be the type of king they wanted. He can’t be forced or exploited into serving our own personal or political agendas. He’s bigger and better than that. Jesus came to liberate the entire world from sin and death, and to form a new people who acknowledge Him as King of all.
JESUS FEEDS THE FIVE THOUSAND
1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
JESUS WALKS ON THE WATER
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.