Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum.
And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.
So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.
But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
[John 6:15-21 NKJV]
Jesus separated Himself from the Disciples because He could see that by naming Him ‘the Prophet who is to come into the world’, they were forming the wrong idea of Him. They had yet to see Him as their saviour, more than a miracle-worker; as God become man, more than oracle or holy man. The disciples had only a limited vision of Jesus.
This is something that we all do — limit God — because we do not know Him in His fullness. We cannot; but we can realise that He is so much greater than our understanding of Him. Then we will accept that He is the only one who can carry us through the storms of life and nurture His life in us, which will begin to lift us into the perfect relationship. It is an ongoing work ... it cannot be otherwise.
Capernaum can be translated as ‘village of comfort’; literally ‘correctly three times’. The disciples headed across the sea to find the right place, only to get into difficulty. Our best intentions can do that; we seek comfort and peace in the wrong things, in the wrong place, because we go in the wrong way — even though everything tells us it is right.
But then — miraculously — we see Jesus walking on the water; He is above the turmoil and He comes in where we are; He sits with us, in the midst of us. Immediately we are at our destination. There is no stressing, for He is The Comforter — fear and trepidation are gone in three short words — ‘It is I’.
“They feared as they entered the cloud.” Is there anyone “save Jesus only” in your cloud? If so, it will get darker; you must get into the place where there is “no one save Jesus only.”
One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
[John 6:8-14 NKJV]
I am a little overwhelmed by the many aspects of Jesus’ ministry and the truth of our Lord that can be seen in these few verses — more of them than can be adequately described in this short study.
Appropriately it was Andrew (whose name means ‘manly’) who found the ‘lad who has five barley loaves and two fishes’ and Jesus asked Andrew to make sure that everyone was seated, for ‘There was much grass in the place’. This means not only that it was comfortable to sit in, but also it was a place of life, of growth and regeneration in what still is a notably dry land.
In the distribution of the loaves and fishes we see that Jesus gave thanks for that food and passed it to the disciples to give to the assembled multitude. This is exactly the way that the word of God comes to us in the first instance until we are able to hear directly from Jesus (The Holy Spirit) for ourselves. But before that we need to be discipled — disciplined in the Spirit — in knowledge and understanding.
The loaves are surely ‘the bread of heaven’; the provision of the Lord for His people. Indeed later on in this chapter, in verse 51, Jesus is quoted as saying “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” There are five loaves, which speak of God’s grace, which He bestows abundantly ...
not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
[Titus 3:5-6 NKJV]
Jesus’ concern was that the remains of this amazing and abundant provision should not be scattered to the elements and wasted, but ‘that nothing is lost’. That leads us to Isaiah 55 where we are told in verse 11, ‘ So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.’ Nothing that The Lord accomplishes is ever lost, and the fact that the Disciples gathered 12 baskets of fragments testifies not only to the abundance of the miracle but to Isaiah’s prophecy that ‘the government shall be upon His shoulders’ — again, that Jesus is who He says He is.
Another translation of ‘lost’ is ‘perish’; so we can see that gathering the fragments is an aspect of the Lord’s desire that ‘none should perish’; or to turn that around, that all should be saved.
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
[John 3:15 NKJV]
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
[2 Peter 3:9 NKJV]
Which leaves us to consider the message in the ‘two small fish’. When we see ‘two’ mentioned, we know that there is a witness, a confirmation, a testimony. These fish most likely were caught in The Sea of Galilee, which Jesus had just crossed. It seems likely that they testify to Jesus Himself, that in His abundant provision as ‘The Bread of Heaven’, He also brings Salvation and Redemption ... so that nothing is lost.
Never blink facts because they don’t agree with your theory.
After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.
Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.
And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.
Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
[John 6:1-6 NKJV]
These first few verses of John 6 are intriguing, because they show us Jesus growing in stature and strength as He now knows that ‘His time has come’.
Jesus plainly at this time had a following and His reputation was spreading, so many came to hear Him and because they saw the healing work He had performed. This is early in Jesus’ ministry and — as is always the case — people only see what is of benefit to themselves. They have yet to see that He is the centre of their existence, not their own thoughts and ambitions.
First of all, we see that Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee — and naming it that is important for it was also known as the Sea of Tiberius, a Roman name. Galilee, however, is significant because it means commitment and trust at its essence. This is the point where Jesus committed Himself fully to the path He knew to be His destiny. He trusted the Father for the way ahead and so He knew in Himself what He would do.
Have you ever been in such a situation where despite the unfamiliar circumstances and a lack of certainty, you knew within yourself what you should do? The Holy Spirit will reveal to you the path, and often it will be counter-intuitive; it is the way you would not go if you tried to work it out for yourself. That is when trust is the only option; a commitment to Jesus and trust that He knows the answer.
When you are ‘all at sea’, the word is ‘Galilee’.
God cannot trust us with His unsearchable riches if we are not faithful in the least things. “The cares of this world” will make us put the least things as the most important.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART