(Today's post by Adam Cooper)
These verses in John are yet another coupling of stories that John uses to further establish Christ as the Son of God. John spends considerable time in these verses, as in many others, seriously comparing the institutes of Judaism with the replacement of those by Christ. He is adept at linking Jesus to the Old Testament in an artful way that allows the Jews that originally read this Gospel to better see Jesus as who He said He was.
In the first 15 verses of John 6 the story of the feeding of the multitudes paints a picture of Jesus as provider. Provider of the bread of life. However, there are theological themes that run back to the book of Exodus and Moses with the Israelites in the desert. Compare John 6:5, “where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” and Numbers 11:13, “where can I get meat for all these people?” Additionally, Jesus miraculously provides food from the meager rations that were scrounged up in a way similar to God providing the manna for the multitudes in the desert.
John also includes details in his Gospel that were not included within the others. One such item is the testing of Philip’s faith in verses 5 and 6. Also, John is the only Gospel to mention that the loaves were barley loaves. I believe the type of loaves is important because it makes the event that much more miraculous. Why? In the book of Luke (11:5) we see an implication that three barley loaves would make a meal for one person meaning that the “five small barley loaves (v.9)” that this boy had was only enough food for maybe two people and with that Jesus provids abundantly for what was most likely upwards of 10-15,000 people.
The miraculous nature of Jesus’ provision and the strong link to the Old Testament and Moses’ feeding of the people caused those present to believe in Him in such a way that Jesus knew they wanted to make Him king. Knowing that His time had not come He retreated away from the crowd and His disciples,alone.
In verses 16-22 John continues to make his case for the deity of Christ through his discussion of when Jesus walks on water. These verses again show a strong correlation to the Old Testament as well as a test of faith. As Jesus approaches the boat, walking on the water, the disciples are frightened because of the storm and the sight of Him walking on the water. Jesus addresses them in such a way that reduces their fear of He and the storm, in essence testing their faith. But it is how Jesus addresses them that is of particular interest and importance for the Jews that would read this. The Greek used is ego eimi and although it is translated in the NIV, ESV, NAS, HCS, and KJVas “it is I” it should be more properly translated “I AM”; an unmistakable link to Moses on Mt. Sinai and his interaction with God.
Seeing the way the people of the day would view the miracles and connections to the Old Testament of which John speaks is interesting, but what do these verses mean to us?
First, we see God as provider. When things seem impossible we need to have faith in God to provide for our needs. Many times people get so worked up worrying about this or that and fail to simply lay it at the foot of the cross for God to handle. This is something I have come to learn in my Christian walk and I know from experience that this kind of release is not easy.
Second, we see God as comforter and rescuer. When things seem terrifying and insurmountable, i.e. the storms of life, we must remember to turn to God and have faith that He is who He says He is and that He will take care of us. Worry is something that I used to struggle with and having a walk with God where worry fades to concern as I hand things over to Him allows me to see that my faith in Him is not in vain and allows me to abide more in Him.
My prayer for you today is that you begin to see God for whom He is: comforter and provider. Release your worries, release your struggles, seek God’s face and abide in Him and He will provide and comfort and rescue you from the troubles of this world.