Not only was John Jesus’ best friend he was also an eyewitness to his three years of earthly ministry. Think about that. John is writing the story of what he saw, what he learned, and the impact Jesus had on him.
This is a personal story for him. It’s also a story about what Jesus means to the world. It’s a story about God coming down and sending out. John wants us to see that Jesus sends us out into the world.
This is part five of our study over John’s seven signs. You can find the rest here.
Let’s dig in.
We find today’s sign in John 6:1-15. Read it.
Ok, let’s hit the highlights.
John opens this story by telling us that Jesus’ popularity is growing. He writes, “And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” (John 6:2) In the previous sign Jesus was complaining about the crowd’s desire for a sign. This time Jesus seems unbothered by this. John tells us, “Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat’?” (John 6:5)
Jesus has compassion on this crowd. He wants to meet their physical needs and in doing that he wants them to connect the dots.
Before we go on its important that one note one very important detail. It was time for the Passover feast. John explicitly mentions the Passover in this story because he wants his readers to connect the dots. After the exodus, God provided manna for the Israelites in the wilderness. The people collected the manna every morning but none could be saved because it perished at night. They were only able to receive enough for the day.
This story follows the same arc as the story Israel and the manna. God’s people need to be sustained, they need food and Jesus is ready to meet their need. Unlike Moses’ manna of the desert, Jesus’ bread doesn’t expire at the end of the day.
Jesus ask them to do the impossible feed the crowd. John tells us, “Philip answered him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little’.” (John 6:7) Two hundred denarii is about a year’s salary. Think about that Jesus has ask them to do something that is practically impossible. And that’s the point.
As the story continues they find a boy with lunch and Jesus uses that. He didn’t need a year’s salary all he needed was lunch. After Jesus fed the people he has the disciples collect the leftovers, “So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.” (John 6: 13) Jesus did this because he wanted his disciples to understand that his grace does not run out. Jesus never runs out of grace. No matter how much he gives there is always more. This sign reveals Jesus as our never ending supply of grace.
John’s goal is to reveal Jesus for who he is. He does this by setting the scene in such a way as to draw a connection to the provision of the desert exodus and showing Jesus as the true giver of life. The supplier of our physical and spiritual needs.