Gospel of John Sunday School | Week 18

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Notes on John 6:1-24

It is simple to be critical of those following Jesus around in the first century. The masses and the disciples themselves frequently missed the point. Still, Jesus was their shepherd. They were His sheep. The beauty of that analogy lies in His love, because on closer inspection being identified with sheep is not flattering. Dimwitted livestock are good models when it comes to human perception. Especially when it comes to spiritual matters, people see neither the forest nor the trees.

Again, it is easy to point out the flaws of Jesus’ followers as recorded in John’s gospel. They were written down just for that purpose. But we can not forget that they were recorded and passed down to us because we are just like them. We, too, are His sheep. Wholly dependent upon Him to shepherd us.

So, when we encounter passages like those in John 6, of the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water, we must acknowledge the truth. The truth is that His sheep weren’t always seeing the picture then, and His sheep aren’t always seeing the picture now. Realizing that, the most beneficial aspect to focus on is us – not them.

Why do we miss the obvious? How many 21st century Christians could even draw the parallel between Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 with Elijah’s miraculous provision of bread in 1st Kings? How many modern church-goers are even aware of the Old Testament promise of “the prophet” mentioned in verse 14? How many Sunday Schooled and Children’ Churched people totally neglect the supernatural transportation of the boat that comes after Jesus walked on water?

All of these details are explicit in the text. All of these should be plain if we read our Bibles. All of these things are missed by us who, like sheep, go astray and follow our own paths.

An academic study of John 6 will rightfully lay all sorts of blame at the feet of Philip (5), the crowds (15), and the disciples (19). An application of the very same passage will reveal how we struggle just like them.

  • Like Philip, we try to figure out impossible problems while God is literally right next to us.
  • Like the crowds, we want Jesus to fit our mold of who we think a messiah should be.
  • Like the disciples, we have a faith that often talks a big game but fails when the chips are down.

Everything Jesus did in the first part of John 6 was to point people to His gospel. Sin blinded them to His true message. We ought to pray that the Holy Spirit will illuminate the Bible so we can truly grasp what He has given us. Then, in the next breath, we ought to pray that He will allow us to live in a manner that reflects that knowledge.

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