BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday February 2, 2014
THE POWER TO MEET NEEDS
(Feeding and sharing the Gospel)
John 6:1-15, & 22-51
JESUS’ feeding of the five thousand men, plus women and children, along with HIS spectacular resurrection, are the only miracles of JESUS, that are mentioned by all four Gospel writers. This legendary feeding took place one day, late in the afternoon, on the slopes of a mountain not far from the banks of the Sea of Galilee, otherwise known as the Sea of Tiberias. It was near the tiny village of Bethsaida, the home of Philip, Andrew, Peter, and probably Nathaniel, four of JESUS’ original disciples. This event can also be referenced in the Gospels of Matthew (14:13-21), Mark (6:30-44), and Luke (9:10-17).
JESUS, WHO is the ultimate, perpetual teacher of man, is always busy testing and refining our faith. And here in this sixth chapter of this Gospel account of John, HE gives us yet another vivid example of just such a test of faith. Philip, being one of the disciples, whom was a native of Bethsaida, is chosen by JESUS to set up this particular lesson in “trusting GOD’s provision”.
Here in verse five, of chapter 6, JESUS asks Philip, where they could buy food to feed all these people. First of all, John tells us that JESUS already knew how Philip would respond (V. 6). Philip says to JESUS that it would take a small fortune to feed this many people (V. 7). In other words, Philip was openly admitting to the human impossibility of the situation JESUS sought to address.
GOD always wants us to trust in HIS unique sovereign ability to do all things, and we see here in this passage, that, even if such a large amount of bread were available, they still would not have had the amount of money it would have taken to purchase it. Andrew, who had gone into the crowd to try and determine the amount of food already available, then, steps forward to report that the only food available was that of “a little lad’s lunch”, which were five barley loaves and two fish (Vs. 8-9).
With all of man’s efforts now exhausted, the stage was set for JESUS to once again demonstrate HIS compassion and power. As the GOOD SHEPHERD, JESUS instructs HIS sheep to sit on the grassy slopes. Then, HE took the loaves from the little boy’s lunch, raised them up and gave thanks to GOD. HE then passes the loaves to HIS disciples to distribute to the crowd.
Afterwards, HE did the same with the fish, and they all ate until they were full. JESUS then instructs HIS disciples to gather up the leftovers so that nothing would be wasted, and the amount collected filled twelve baskets. It was an event reminiscent of when GOD had fed the Israelites in the wilderness, with manna from Heaven, through Moses. They also recalled Moses’ prophesy of a coming PROPHET, who would be like him (Deuteronomy 18:15), and that HE would be the ONE that they should listen to. And when the people recognized this sign, they sought to make JESUS their king.
This miracle, just like all the others, was an attempt by JESUS, to appeal to the spiritual ignorance of HIS people. And, although the twelve disciples were closer to JESUS, than any of the other people present, they too, at this point, were still lingering in spiritual blindness. The feeding of the five thousand men, plus women and children, was the fourth sign of the MESSIAH.
Throughout the course of human events men and women make many choices by way of the “freedom of choice” grace gift, which GOD grants to each of us personally. Hopefully, we are wise enough to make one of our choices, the choice of freedom, which we can only find in our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.
The Gospel of John is the Gospel of “the seven great “I AM” statements” of JESUS”, that were uttered to various people long ago, during HIS three-year mission here on earth. It must not be forgotten, that, even though those statements were directed to a people who have long since passed away, they are also intended, by GOD to permeate the hearts, minds, and souls of each generation since. Through CHRIST, GOD makes it possible for every one born into this world to be offered the taste of Salvation.
In John chapter 6, taking up at verse 22, the morning following HIS miraculous “feeding of the five thousand”, and, HIS legendary “walk on water”, crowds of people, who had only heard about the miraculous feeding, begin gathering on shore waiting to see JESUS. They were aware that the disciples had left and went across the lake toward Capernaum without JESUS, but they were unaware that JESUS had later walked across the water to their boat. Several boatloads of them had sailed from Tiberias and landed at the site of the miraculous feeding. When they realized that JESUS was not there, they climbed back into their boats and sailed across the tiny Sea of Galilee to Capernaum to look for HIM there.
When they arrived at Capernaum and found HIM, they questioned HIM as to how HE got there. Ignoring their question, JESUS instead reveals to them that HE knows the true reason why they sought HIM. HE tells them that they sought HIM only because HE fed them the day before, and that it was not because of any miraculous signs. HE then warns them not to be concerned about perishable things like food, but instead, they should spend their energy seeking the eternal life that only HE can give them. For GOD had sent HIM to them, for that very purpose, and GOD, wants them to believe in the ONE that HE has sent.
“I AM the BREAD OF LIFE” is what JESUS said to this huge crowd of people, as HE taught in the temple at Capernaum in John 6:35. It is the first of the “Seven Great I AM Statements” that JESUS spoke, during HIS three-year ministry.
Certainly no one, who has ever come to JESUS, will ever be hungry, or thirst again, because JESUS, alone, is able to meet man’s need for eternal life. In those days, bread was the basic food of the people, and even today, it is symbolic of all that sustains human life, here on earth. In John 6:35-40, JESUS is affirming that HE HIMSELF is the most essential element, or ingredient needed to provide and sustain spiritual life.
Physical bread must be eaten and digested before it can become a part of us, physically, and in the spiritual sense, JESUS, must be taken in and digested spiritually, in order to become a part of us, spiritually. We must, by faith, take HIM in completely, before HE can become a part of us, and sustain us, totally. JESUS lives by the power of the LIVING FATHER WHO sent HIM to us, and, in the same way, those who partake of the LIVING CHRIST will also live, because of HIM.
Since the creation of man, he has always sought and asked for signs from GOD so that he might believe. However, no matter how many signs and miracles GOD has delivered over the centuries, man still has never been able to maintain a trust and belief in HIM for very long.
GOD has never asked anything more from us than to have faith in HIM, and believe. Yet, we continue to this day to ask GOD, over and over again, to “prove HIMSELF” with more and more supernatural acts, even though we have never been able to “prove ourselves” to HIM, through a “simple act” of belief in HIM. And despite HIS continued faithfulness to us by way of HIS daily provisions and mercy, the world’s sin continues to be, unbelief in CHRIST JESUS (John 16:9).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website