6:1 After these things1 Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee2, which is [the sea] of Tiberias3. FIRST WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY AND RETURN. (Spring, A.D. 29.) A. RETURN OF THE TWELVE AND RETIREMENT TO THE EAST SHORE OF GALILEE. Matthew 14:13; Mark 6:30-32; Luke 9:10; John 6:1
After these things. See Matthew
Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee. See Mark
Which is [the sea] of Tiberias. see Luke
6:2 And a great
multitude followed him1, because they beheld the signs
which he did on them that were sick.
FIRST WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY AND RETURN. (Spring, A.D. 29) B.
FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND. Matthew
And a great multitude followed him. See Mark
6:3 And Jesus went
up into the mountain, and there he sat with his disciples1.
And Jesus went up into the mountain, and there he sat with his
disciples. The level plain did not afford a good platform from which to
address the people.
6:4 Now the
passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand1.
Now the passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. This passover
is computed to have been held on April 16, A.D. 29. This statement as to the
time of year prepares us for his further statement that there was much grass
in the plain. It also explains in part the gathering of a multitude in this
secluded region. Pilgrims on their way to the passover would gladly go
several miles out of their way to see the great Prophet perform a miracle.
The excitement, due to the mission of the twelve and the death of the
Baptist, also tended to swell the crowd.
6:5 Jesus therefore lifting up his eyes,
and seeing that a great multitude cometh unto him, saith unto Philip, Whence
are we to buy bread, that these may eat1?
Whence are we to buy bread, that these may eat? Jesus tested Philip
to see which way he would turn in his weakness. Jesus asked where the bread
might be bought, knowing that power to feed the multitude resided in himself
55:1), but Philip wondered where the money was to be had to buy it.
6:7 Philip answered him, Two
hundred shillings' worth of bread is not sufficient for them1,
that every one may take a little.
Two hundred shillings' worth of bread is not sufficient for them,
that every one may take a little. See Mark
6:9 There is a lad
here, who hath five barley loaves, and two fishes1: but
what are these among so many?
There is a lad here, who hath five barley loaves, and two fishes.
6:10 Jesus said,
Make the people sit down1. Now there was much grass in the
place. So the men sat down, in number about five
Jesus said, Make the people sit down. See Mark
So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. See Mark
6:11 Jesus therefore took the loaves; and
having given thanks1, he distributed to them that were set
down; likewise also of the fishes as much as they would.
And having given thanks. See Mark
6:12 And when they were filled, he saith
unto his disciples, Gather up the broken pieces which
remain over, that nothing be lost1.
Gather up the broken pieces which remain over, that nothing be lost.
Christ is the economist of the universe. This command was in keeping with
his laws which permit nothing to suffer annihilation. Ruin and destruction
have no other effect than merely to change the form of things. Every atom of
the material world which was here at the beginning of creation is here
today, though it may have changed its form a million times in the progress
6:14 When therefore the people saw the
sign which he did, they said, This is of a truth the
prophet that cometh into the world1.
This is of a truth the prophet that cometh into the world. That is
to say, this is the Messiah, the prophet promised at Deuteronomy
18:15. Their desire to avenge the death of John made them feverishly
anxious for the appearance of the Messiah, but this faith was inconstant.
16:15 Jesus therefore
perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king,
withdrew again into the mountain himself alone.
FIRST WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY AND RETURN. (Spring, A.D. 29.) C. THE
TWELVE TRY TO ROW BACK. JESUS WALKS UPON THE WATER. Matthew
Jesus therefore perceiving that they were about to come and take him by
force, to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain himself alone.
Jesus had descended to the plain to feed the multitude, but, perceiving this
mistaken desire of the people, he frustrated it by dismissing his disciples
and retiring by himself into the mountain.
6:17 and they entered into a boat, and
were going over the sea unto Capernaum. And it was now
dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them1.
And it was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. See Mark
6:18 And the sea
was rising by reason of a great wind that blew1.
And the sea was rising by reason of a great wind that blew. See Mark
6:19 When therefore they had rowed about
five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they behold Jesus
walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the boat1: and
they were afraid2.
They behold Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the boat.
And they were afraid. See Mark
6:20 But he saith
unto them, It is I; be not afraid1.
But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. See Mark
6:21 They were
willing therefore to receive him into the boat1: and
straightway the boat was at the land whither they were going.
They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat.
Superstitious fears are not always so soon allayed. His voice brought great
6:22 On the
morrow1 the multitude that stood
on the other side of the sea2 saw
that there was no other boat there, save one3, and that
Jesus entered not with his disciples into the boat, but [that] his disciples
went away alone
DISCOURSE ON SPIRITUAL FOOD AND TRUE DISCIPLESHIP. PETER'S CONFESSION. (At the
synagogue in Capernaum.) John
On the morrow. The morrow after Jesus fed the five thousand.
The multitude that stood on the other side of the sea. On the east
side, opposite Capernaum.
Saw that there was no other boat there, save one, etc. This
6:22-24) is a complicated one, because it contains much in condensed
form. On the evening of the miracle the multitude had seen that there was
but one boat, and that the disciples had gone away in it, leaving Jesus in
the mountain. Jesus had dispersed the multitude, but many of them had not
gone very far.
there came boats from Tiberias1 nigh unto the place where
they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks):
Howbeit there came boats from Tiberias. In the meantime the keen-
eyed boatmen about Tiberias, then the largest city on the lake, seeing the
multitude on the farther shore, saw in their presence there an opportunity
to earn a ferry fee, so they soon crossed the lake to accommodate the
6:24 when the
multitude therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples1,
they themselves got into the boats, and came to
Capernaum, seeking Jesus2.
When the multitude therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his
disciples. After some time they became convinced that he was not there,
because if he had been, his disciples would have returned to seek him.
They themselves got into the boats, and came to Capernaum, seeking
Jesus. As Capernaum was the well-known headquarters of Jesus, the
boatmen were directed to proceed thither that the multitude might find him.
6:25 And when they found him on the other
side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest
Rabbi, when camest thou hither? They found him at Capernaum in the
synagogue, having but lately arrived from the land of Gennesaret. Though
their question relates only to the time when Jesus crossed, it implies and
includes a desire to know the manner also.
6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily,
verily1, I say unto you, Ye seek
me, not because ye saw signs2, but
because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled3.
Verily, verily. See John
1:51. Jesus' answer was as serious as their question was flippant.
Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs. Jesus includes the healing of
the sick as well as the feeding of the multitude.
But because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled. They did not
seek Jesus because they saw in him a divine Friend who could satisfy the
deep needs of the soul, but as a wonder-worker who could fill their bodies
with food when occasion required.
6:27 Work not for
the food which perisheth1, but
for the food which abideth unto eternal life2, which
the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed3.
Work not for the food which perisheth. Bodily food.
But for the food which abideth unto eternal life. Spiritual food.
Which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God,
hath sealed. In our land a man consents to and makes a written
instrument his own--an expression of his will--by signing it; but in the
East he did this by affixing his seal to it (1 Kings
8:10 Father had commissioned him as Messiah, and had authenticated his
mission as such by the works which he had given him to do.
6:28 They said therefore unto him, What
must we do, that we may work the works of God1?
What must we do, that we may work the works of God? They wished to
know what to do in order to earn the abiding food; that is, by what works
they might so please God as to obtain it. Humanity, in seeking to answer
this question, has invented pilgrimages, penances, fasts, mutilations, and
many other methods of self-punishment; not heeding the plain and decisive
answer of Jesus.
6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This
is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent1.
This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
Belief in Jesus as the Son of God is the one all-comprehensive work which
pleases God (Hebrews
11:6). Jesus reiterates this important truth several times in this
discourse; see, for example, John
6:35,36,40,47, and the doctrine contained in it is elaborated in the
epistles of Paul.
6:30 They said therefore unto him, What
then doest thou for a sign, that we may see, and believe thee1?
what workest thou?
What then doest thou for a sign, that we may see, and believe thee?
what workest thou? The trend of questions and answers in this
discourse forms a close parallel to that at John
4:1-42, but with a different conclusion. There Jesus discoursed of life
under the figure of water, and here under the figure of bread. There the
woman vacillated between her good and evil impulses until her better nature
triumphed. Here there was a like vacillation, terminating in opposite
6:31 Our fathers
ate the manna in the wilderness1; as
it is written2, He gave them
bread out of heaven to eat3.
Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness. In John
4:12, the woman compared Jesus with Jacob, the well-digger; here the
people compare him with Moses, the manna-giver--each comparing him
As it is written. See Psalms
He gave them bread out of heaven to eat. See Exodus
6:32 Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily,
verily1, I say unto you, It was
not Moses that gave you the bread out of heaven2; but
my Father giveth you the true bread out of heaven3.
Verily, verily. See John
It was not Moses that gave you the bread out of heaven. In testing
the claims of Jesus the Jews proceeded upon the hypothesis that the Messiah
must be greater than all the prophets, and that this greatness must be
authenticated or sealed by greater signs than those wrought by others.
Proceeding under this method, they compared the miracle just wrought by
Jesus with the fall of manna in the days of Moses and drew conclusions
unfavorable to Jesus. They reason thus: Moses fed many millions for forty
years with bread from heaven, but Moses was less than Messiah. This man fed
but five thousand for only one day and gave them barley bread. This man is
even less than Moses, and consequently far less than the Messiah.
But my Father giveth you the true bread out of heaven. See John
6:34 They said therefore unto him, Lord,
evermore give us this bread1.
Lord, evermore give us this bread. They readily recognized the
insufficiency of manna and the possibility of God sending a better bread,
and in a vague, wondering, half-credulous mood they asked for it just as the
woman asked for water (John
4:15). In answer to each set of questions Jesus proceeded to reveal
himself, and to show that the blessings sought were not external to himself,
but were in himself and were obtained by belief in him. When Jesus stood
thus self-revealed, the Samaritan woman believed in him and was satisfied;
but these Jews at Capernaum disbelieved and murmured.
6:35 Jesus said unto them. I
am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that
believeth on me shall never thirst1.
I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he
that believeth on me shall never thirst. Compare John
6:36 But I said
unto you, that ye have seen me, and yet believe not1.
But I said unto you, that ye have seen me, and yet believe not. The
personality of Jesus was the great proof of his divinity, but the Jews,
though familiar with that personality, refused to consider it, and kept
clamoring for a sign. Hence Jesus states the hopelessness of the situation.
If one refused to believe in the sun when he sees its light, feels its heat
and witnesses its life-giving power, by what sign will you demonstrate to
him the existence of the sun?
6:37 All that
which the Father giveth me shall come unto me1; and
him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out2.
All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me. These words
of Christ arise naturally out of the situation. The Jews, having wavered
between belief and disbelief, had settled in a proud disbelief which was
about to be expressed in murmuring and scorn. They were complacently
self-satisfied, and felt that they had displayed great wisdom in arriving at
this decision. But Jesus strikes at their pride by informing them that they
are not his because God has rejected them as unworthy to be given to him.
There is no suggestion or hint that the Father acts arbitrarily in selecting
whom he shall give to Christ. The Son of God "followed a prescribed
course" in the winning of men. If this did not win them, it was the
Father's decree that they were not his.
And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. If this
course did win them, Jesus in nowise rejected them, no matter how lowly
their station, or how vile their past record.
6:40 For this is
the will of my Father, that every one that beholdeth the Son, and believeth on
him, should have eternal life1; and
I will raise him up at the last day2.
For this is the will of my Father, that every one that beholdeth the
Son, and believeth on him, should have eternal life. It was the purpose
of God the Father to offer to the sons of men an eternal life through the
life-giving power of Jesus Christ. The power which was to work in men a
fitness for this exalted honor was a belief in the Son. How could signs and
wonders be wrought contrary to the Father's will? They ought to have
believed for the signs and wonders he had already wrought, instead of
pretending that he had wrought none that were conclusive of his claims.
And I will raise him up at the last day. See John
6:41 The Jews
therefore murmured concerning him1, because he said, I am
the bread which came down out of heaven.
The Jews therefore murmured concerning him. The Jews had entered
with Christ upon a discussion as to whether he was a greater prophet than
Moses, and as they denied even this fact, it is not to be wondered that they
murmured at the turn which the discussion had taken.
6:42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the
son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how
doth he now say, I am come down out of heaven1?
How doth he now say, I am come down out of heaven? In asserting
that he came down from heaven, etc., Jesus ascribed to himself a
participation in the divine glory which entitled him to an absolute
superiority over all men, prophets or others. This claim was to them
insufferable, and they thought they had a sufficient answer to it in that
they supposed themselves to be acquainted with his birth and parentage.
6:43 Jesus answered and said unto them, Murmur
not among yourselves1.
Murmur not among yourselves. Jesus rebukes their murmuring as out
of place. They thought themselves offended by what they believed to be an
intolerable assumption on his part.
6:44 No man can
come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him1: and
I will raise him up in the last day2.
No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him. But
they were really offended in him for an entirely different cause, viz.:
because they were not drawn by the Father.
And I will raise him up in the last day. See John
6:45 It is
written in the prophets1, And
they shall all be taught of God2. Every
one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me3.
It is written in the prophets. See Isaiah
And they shall all be taught of God. The Father had given the law
as a tutor to draw to Christ (Galatians
3:24), and he had also sent forth his prophets for the same purpose.
Those who had availed themselves of this instruction, and had learned the
Father's lessons, were ready to come to Christ. The sense of misery and
desire of redemption begotten by the law drove one to Christ, and all the
yearnings and aspirations inspired by the prophets attracted him thither.
Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh
unto me. The Father had taught, but the people had not learned, just as
their fathers had not learned; and Jesus accuses them in language kindred to
the accusation of Moses (Deuteronomy
29:4). In each case the people were to blame.
6:46 Not that any
man hath seen the Father, save he that is from God, he hath seen the Father1.
Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he that is from God, he
hath seen the Father. The Jews might have construed the words of Jesus
as indicating an immediate relation to the Father and of obtaining
instruction directly from him. Such a doctrine would strike at the mediation
of Christ. Jesus therefore guards against this false apprehension by denying
humanity's direct access to God the Father, and claiming it as his own
exclusive right. The teaching of the Father which he spoke of was obtained
through the Scriptures and (in earlier times) the prophets, who were the
authors of the Scriptures.
verily1, I say unto you, He that believeth hath eternal
Verily, verily. See John
6:48 I am the
bread of life1.
I am the bread of life. Jesus here reasserts the proposition to
which the Jews had objected. Having paused to speak of the cause of their
objections, he now asserts the main propositions, that he may enlarge upon
6:49 Your fathers
ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died1.
Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. Manna
did not stay death. During the forty years' sojourn in the wilderness all
the grown men who started from Egypt died save two (Numbers
6:50 This is the
bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die1.
This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat
thereof, and not die. He quietly condescends to contrast the two breads.
Manna simply sustained the body like any other natural food; it did no more.
Jesus is supernatural food; he sustains the spirit unto eternal life.
6:51 I am the living bread which came down
out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: yea and the
bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world1.
The bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.
He had declared himself to be the bread of life, but bread must be
assimilated. The assimilation of natural bread requires eating, but Jesus,
the spiritual bread, is assimilated by believing on him. But he was not then
perfected as the bread of life. It was necessary that he should sacrifice
himself for our sins before sins could be forgiven, and it was necessary for
sins to be forgiven before men could have life with God. By his sacrifice on
the cross he opened the fountain of forgiveness. By raising his humanity
from the dead and by taking it with him in his ascension into heaven, he
showed the results which men may expect to accrue to them by his death upon
6:52 The Jews
therefore strove one with another, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to
The Jews therefore strove one with another, saying, How can this man
give us his flesh to eat? They were not all of one mind with regard to
Christ, and they discussed from opposite sides the problem raised by these
6:53 Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily,
verily1, I say unto you, Except
ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in
Verily, verily. See John
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have
not life in yourselves. He here expressed in words what he afterward
expressed in symbols, when he gave the Lord's supper. The vital force of a
disciple is proportioned to his belief in, remembrance of, and desire to
assimilate the Christ.
6:54 He that
eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life1: and
I will raise him up at the last day2.
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life.
The flesh to be eaten must be broken, and the blood, if it is to be drunk,
must be poured out. Christ speaks of himself as the sacrifice given for the
saving of the world, and one must appropriate to himself by faith this
expiation and find in it reconciliation with God if he would live; but the
next verse enlarges the thought and shows that it includes more than the
idea of expiation.
And I will raise him up at the last day. See John
6:56 He that
eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him1.
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in
him. The thought of drinking blood was startling to the Jew, for he was
forbidden to taste even the blood of animals, and the reason assigned was
very pertinent--because the blood was the life of the animal (Genesis
17:10-14). By insisting, therefore, on the drinking of his blood, Jesus
has insisted that his very life to be absorbed and assimilated. To be
disciples of other teachers it is only necessary that we accept and follow
their doctrine. But to be a disciple of Christ is to do more than this. His
divinity permits us to have a spiritual communion and fellowship with him,
an abiding presence, an indwelling of his Spirit, and a veritable
assimilation of life from him. Were it otherwise he could not be food for
the spirit--bread of life. He had started to show to the Jews that he was to
the spirit what bread was to the body. It was difficult to bring home to
their carnal minds so spiritual a thought, and therefore Jesus clothed it in
carnal metaphors and made it as plain as possible. Christians today, being
more spiritually minded, and more used to spiritual language, are somewhat
confused by the carnal dress in which Jesus clothed his thought.
6:57 As the living Father sent me, and I
live because of the Father; so he that eateth me, he
also shall live because of me1.
So he that eateth me, he also shall live because of me. The result
of our union or abiding with Christ is a perfect life. The life of the
Father enters the soul of the disciple through the mediatorship of the Son.
The Father, who is the fountain of life, sent forth the Son that he might
bestow it upon all who believe in him and abide in him.
6:58 This is the bread which came down out
of heaven: not as the fathers ate, and died; he that
eateth this bread shall live for ever1.
He that eateth this bread shall live for ever. Thus Jesus sums up
the comparison which the Jews had thrust upon himself and the manna.
6:59 These things
said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum1.
These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
It was in the synagogue built by the centurion, which we have before
mentioned. See Luke
7:5. Pots of manna appear to have been engraved upon its walls, possibly
upon the frieze, for Col. Wilson says of it:
"It was not without a certain strange feeling that, on turning over
one of the blocks (in the ruins), we found the pot of manna engraved on its
face, and remembered the words, "I am that bread of life. Your fathers
did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead"."
6:62 [What] then
if ye should behold the Son of man ascending where he was before1?
[What] then if ye should behold the Son of man ascending where he was
before? If the prophecy of his sacrifice disturbed their dreams of a
temporal kingdom, what would be the effect of his ascension on those dreams?
The Book of Acts answers our Lord's question. In the very hour of the
ascension, the very apostles were still expecting the revival of the kingdom
of David, with Jerusalem for its capital. But, ten days later, at Pentecost,
they had abandoned the earthly idea and looked upon Jesus as enthroned at
the right hand of God.
6:63 It is the spirit that giveth life;
the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have
spoken unto you are spirit, are are life1.
The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, are are life.
Jesus here tells them plainly that his words relate to the spiritual realm,
and to life in that realm. It is his Spirit in our spirit which gives
eternal life. His flesh in our flesh would profit nothing, even were a
priest able, by his blessing, to perform the miracle of transubstantiation.
The life-principle of Jesus lay in his divinity, and his divinity lay in his
Spirit, and not in his flesh. We would not come in contact with his divinity
by eating that which represented his humanity.
6:64 But there
are some of you that believe not1. For Jesus knew from the
beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray
But there are some of you that believe not. Jesus here
distinguishes between those who were drawn to him by divine influences, and
who were therefore ready to follow him as he really was, and those who were
drawn to him by mistaken notions concerning him, and who would desert him as
soon as they discovered that their conceptions of him were incorrect. He
knew the reason which prompted each to become his disciple.
6:66 Upon this
many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him1.
Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
He had sifted them, for their false following could be of no benefit either
to them or to his kingdom.
6:67 Jesus said
therefore unto the twelve, Would ye also go away1?
Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, Would ye also go away? Jesus
had sifted the outer circle of his disciples, and the loss, though
prophetically anticipated, was not without its pang. In this verse he
proceeds to sift the innermost circle, and his words are full of pathos. By
giving them an opportunity to depart he called forth from them an expression
of loyalty which bound them more closely to him.
6:71 Now he spake
of Judas [the son] of Simon Iscariot, for he it was that should betray him,
[being] one of the twelve1.
Now he spake of Judas [the son] of Simon Iscariot, for he it was that
should betray him, [being] one of the twelve. We have seen from he
speaks of him openly. In a discourse which forecasted his passion it was
natural that he should allude to his betrayer, especially, when his presence
enforced remembrance. But there was another reason to mention him at this
time. He was an illustration of the truth that no man could be a real
follower of Jesus unless he became such by the drawing of the Father.