Day 7: John 6: 1-14
I have a lot of sympathy with the disciples! They just have no idea what’s going on most of the time. They are faced with a continuing succession of events that they are completely unprepared for. With hindsight their inadequacies are easy to see but I can’t help feeling if I had been one of them I’d have been off in a strop because Jesus hadn’t fulfilled my expectations!
By the time we get to John 6 the disciples had seen Jesus do some amazing miracles but contrary to what would appear to be common sense Jesus kept trying to get away from the crowds. In chapter 5 Jesus had been at the temple in Jerusalem. Now in chapter 6 he has gone to the Sea of Galilee. Verse 2 says that a large crowd had followed him because of the signs he had done. So what does Jesus do? Hold a healing meeting? No – he goes up the mountain! It must have been so frustrating for the disciples because Jesus continually failed to meet normal expectations. We too can easily put God in a box of our expectations.
The people still followed Jesus up the mountain and it was Passover time. This is significant. Everything in John’s gospel is there with purpose. Passover was all about Israel’s escape from Egypt and one of the significant things that God did was feed the people supernaturally with manna. Jesus knows that he is going to do a similar miracle of supernatural provision and so he asks Philip where they can get bread from. Here he is setting up the miracle. He is pointing out the utter impossibility of relying on “natural resources”. We all know the story – Jesus takes the loaves and fishes, blesses them, shares them out and there is enough for the whole crowd and with 12 baskets left over.
This whole event is about much more than feeding hungry people (although that is important in itself). Jesus is showing that he is God (doing the same thing that God had done in providing for his people), that he is also leading people out of captivity but also he is setting things up for later in the chapter (spoiler alert!) when he is going to make a key statement that He is the bread of life.
After the miracle the people are ready to make Jesus king. Wow the disciples must have been excited! So what does Jesus do? He leaves the crowd and goes up a mountain. Again he defies all “logic” and all “expectation” and all pressure from others. He knows what he is doing. He knows there is a bigger plan. He knows that now is not the time for a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He is prepared to wait.
These are some things we can learn from this passage:
- Jesus frequently doesn’t do what we expect when we expect it
- We shouldn’t just rely on our natural resources
- Jesus can take our natural resources and multiply them
- We need to always be willing to wait for God’s timing
- Jesus is the miracle worker – who provides for his people
Why not take a few moments to think through – how may God’s expectations at this time be different to yours? How may his timing be different to yours? What natural resources do you have that he can multiply? What areas do you need to be looking to him for his miraculous provision?