We have come to the end of our John 1-6 Study. I hope and pray that you have been blessed and encouraged by our time following the footsteps of Jesus through these six chapters. I believe that it is fitting to end our study during Passion Week, a time in which to reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus was a flesh and blood human who did indeed walk this earth during the first century. He was fully God and fully man. The divine WORD made flesh. Emmanuel—God with us. Though He left the splendor of heaven, He came humbly to the earth, walked among ordinary men, and ministered among the least likely of society.
Jesus’ message and ministry had great impact during His lifetime. However, at the same time, it was counter-cultural and repulsive to a lot of people. His messages were not easy to stomach and required a level of faith and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone that not everyone was prepared for. While the first six chapters of John cover the start of Jesus’ earthly ministry, here at the end of chapter six, we see people are already walking away.
Jesus’ miracles and gifts of healing and food were always welcome and drew a crowd; however, when He began teaching and explaining the truth of why He had come and what was required to follow Him, people turned back. Therefore, after the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus’ subsequent teaching on the bread of life, John records this sobering result.
Bread is an important life staple. Almost every culture and people group have used some sort of grain to create a bread-like item that sustained them and was a source of food. The feeding of the five thousand included bread and an extreme surplus. Remember that even though Jesus multiplied both the loaves and the fish from the original lunch, it was the bread that filled twelve baskets of leftovers afterwards. Bread doesn’t spoil as quickly as meat, plus it is easy to transport and also filling. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that bread has become an important source of sustenance for mankind.
However, the nourishment that comes from bread is temporary. We eat it and become hungry again within a couple hours. While bread gives our bodies what they need in the moment, it never fully or permanently satisfies. But the bread Jesus offers not only fills our spiritual needs and wants, but it gives life eternal.
The feeding of the five thousand was an amazing miracle meant to build the disciples’ faith, reveal Jesus’ power over all things and ability to create food from nothing, and show the world Jesus’ compassion and provision for needs. However, after that mountain top moment, Jesus withdrew from the crowds and His disciples and retreated to spend some quiet time alone with God. Eventually the day came to a close and the disciples decided it was time to head towards their home base in Capernaum even though Jesus was nowhere to be found. But this didn’t seem to faze the experienced fishermen, so they got in their boat and started across the Sea of Galilee.
As we near the end of our time in John 1-6, we read one of Jesus’ most well-known miracles in His entire ministry: the feeding of the five thousand. So many truths and lessons can be gleaned from this miraculous story of five loaves and two fish, but I want to focus our attention on one specific truth: our God is a God who multiplies exponentially above and beyond all we could imagine.
From the very beginning of His earthly ministry, people struggled with Jesus’ status as the Son of Man and One equal to God the Father. The Pharisees denied it and sought to kill Jesus because of His claims of divinity. Skeptics to this day still question the divine nature of Jesus and whether He truly was fully human and fully God. However, when the Jews raised private questions regarding Jesus’ claims of being equal with God, Jesus gave a lengthy discourse on this subject and revealed how interconnected in heart, motive, action, and intent God the Father and God the Son are. While the two are separate persons of the Trinity, they are also One and both equally God.
Therefore, let’s examine what Jesus has to say about His status as God the Son and His relationship with the Father.
Life can become routine and habitual. It’s so easy to get stuck in the same old rut and lose sight of the miracle-working power of our Savior. We can easily become entangled in works-based religion or tradition and forget to walk in the grace and mercy Jesus died to give us.
John 5 opens with a powerful story of a man who was stuck in a life rut and was blind to the potential of what Jesus could do for him. After spending 38 years as a cripple waiting to be healed through the tradition and myths of the time, this man had no idea what was possible when Jesus walked up to him that day. This is his miracle story, when God chose him out of all the other invalids lying around that day to receive the life-giving words: “Get up and walk.”
Stories are powerful. There’s a reason why fiction is a top selling genre and the movie industry is so big and influential in our culture. People connect with stories. It resonates with them on a personal, emotional, and experiential level. Stories can shape people’s opinions, perspectives, values, and worldview. They also have the potential to impact people’s future and change the trajectory of their lives.
Have you ever experienced burn out? After an extended period of pouring effort, time, and energy into a project, job, or relationship, have you ever felt that it was all for naught? It’s a sinking, discouraging feeling that can drain all the motivation and enthusiasm for future endeavors right out of you.
While this is not a positive experience for any part of life, burn out and discouragement while serving the Lord is detrimental to our spiritual health. We are called to a life of sacrificial service which will require pouring time, energy, and effort into people and opportunities that may or may not reap immediate rewards. So as we do life and follow Christ’s call to sacrificial living, how do we avoid burn out and spiritual complacency from discouragement and fatigue
“‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’”
The narrative of the woman at the well in John 4 is a beautiful story of redemption, compassion, and unconditional love. Many excellent teachers have given powerful messages on this passage of Scripture; therefore, I am not going to attempt to unpack the many levels of deep truth and implications from this story. However, there are a couple points that are worth pondering before we leave this passage.
As we noted last time, Jesus broke the mold and crossed cultural boundaries to make this story possible. However, Jesus also went to the least likely and embraced her for who she was and sought to give her life and hope. He wasn’t put off by hard exteriors, and He wasn’t afraid to look people straight in the eye in the midst of their pain. In fact, Jesus wasn’t hesitant to probe the wounds in order to bring healing, for he knew that before healing and restoration can be given, the pain and brokenness of the past must be dealt with.