Study Guide

Gospel of John Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

5 Loaves + 2 Fishes = 1 Miracle

  • Now Jesus heads back up to Galilee to a town on the sea called Tiberias. It's almost time for Passover again.
  • A huge crowd keeps following him around. They're obsessed with him—they clearly know that he has performed miracles and healed the sick.
  • Jesus climbs up a mountain with his disciples and even then, the massive crowd follows them. Can't these people take a hint?
  • Jesus sees how large the crowd is—we're talking five thousand people—and worries aloud about how they're going to buy bread for all these people to eat. Of course it's just a test. Jesus knows he's got a bread hook-up.
  • But Philip takes the bait anyway. He tells Jesus that even six months wages wouldn't be enough to buy bread for a crowd like this.
  • Then Andrew pipes in: There's a boy who has five loaves of bread and two fish. Sure, he's willing to share, but those few bits of food won't feed all these people. Things are not looking good for mealtime.
  • Jesus ignores their doubts and, instead, tells the disciples that they should have everyone sit down and settle in for a meal. Hmmm.
  • Jesus takes the bread from the boy and gives thanks to God. He does the same thing with the fish. Then he passes it out to the people and everyone eats until they are completely full.
  • Impressive.
  • When everyone in the crowd is done eating, Jesus asks the disciples to gather up what's left. Remember how they started with only five loaves of bread and two fish? Well, they still they collect twelve baskets full of leftovers. That's quite a doggie bag.
  • Everyone knows it's a miracle and that Jesus must be a prophet. People get so carried away that they actually want to force Jesus to become their king. Whoa, slow down, guys.
  • This worries Jesus, so he retreats further up the mountain. Good call.

If He Could Walk on Water

  • That night, the disciples take a boat down to the Sea of Galilee. They are trying to cross over to Capernaum, but there are strong winds blowing and the sea becomes rough.
  • The disciples row out three or four miles. When they look out through the raging storm, they see Jesus walking towards them. Needless to say, they're completely freaked out.
  • Jesus reassures them. It's just him—no need to be afraid. Says the guy walking on water…
  • The disciples ask Jesus to come into the boat and, instantly, the boat reaches land. Impressive.
  • The next day, the crowd sees that Jesus and his disciples have gone, so they get into their boats and head over to Capernaum, too. This is all becoming a bit Fatal Attraction-y.
  • When the people manage to track down Jesus, he tells them that they're looking for him not because of the miracles, but because they ate their fill of the bread and fish from the day before. 
  • He urges them not to look for food that will rot and spoil, but to search for spiritual food, which will never go bad. Once again, Jesus, way to get deep.

Jesus Shares His Recipe for Everlasting Life

  • The people want to know how they can do God's work. Well, they might want to think about cutting back on the stalking a bit.
  • Jesus tells them they just have to believe in him, the one God sent. Sounds easy enough.
  • But the people have short memories and want to know how he will prove to them that he's really the one that God sent. They explain that God gave the Jewish people bread from heaven when they were wandering in the wilderness (remember that way back in Exodus?). How is Jesus going to prove his credentials?
  • Jesus tells them that it's true that God gives bread from heaven that makes everything in the world seem alive.
  • The people decide that, yes, they'd like to have some of this special life-giving bread. And maybe seconds, too.
  • So Jesus tells them that he is this special bread of life. Anyone who believes in him will never be hungry again. Or thirsty, for that matter. Jesus is pretty handy with the miracles, after all.
  • Some people have seen and heard what Jesus had to say and still don't believe. Guess they won't be enjoying any of the bread we've been hearing so much about. 
  • Any person who does come to Jesus, though, will be accepted and get raised up with God at the end of time.

Oh No He Didn't

  • Again, Jesus' words send the religious authorities into convulsions.
  • They start complaining about Jesus. How dare he say that he is a special life-giving bread from heaven? God is not made of sour dough.
  • They keep asking each other: Isn't this just Jesus, Joseph's son? We know this kid's parents, but here he is telling us he came down from heaven…?

Oh, Yes He Did

  • Jesus tells everyone to knock off the complaining. No one can know God unless they know him first. Period. End of story.
  • Jesus explains again that he is the bread of life. Got it. If a person eats the bread, they'll live forever with God. Actually, the bread he'll give to the world is his own body. Wait, what?
  • Of course, this upsets the religious authorities even more. Now, they grumble, Jesus is saying that he wants people to eat—actually, physically eat—his body in order to become closer to God. Gross.
  • Yep, Jesus tells them. Unless a person eats his flesh and drinks his blood, they won't be able to have a life with God.
  • Well, there you go. His body is the true food and his blood is the true drink. By eating them, a person will remain with him forever. Whoever eats his body will live forever with God, too. It's just like the bread from heaven that God gave the people in the wilderness. But this bread will sustain the person who eats it forever. 
  • Still sounds a little gross.

The Band Starts to Break Up

  • Now some of the disciples are starting to get a little bit freaked out. They think it's pretty hard to believe that they have to eat Jesus's body and drink his blood in order to live forever with God.
  • Yeah, that's a tough one to swallow.
  • But Jesus isn't worried. Are his disciples offended? Sure, but what's true is true.
  • Jesus knows, though, that some of the disciples still don't believe him. In fact, after he tells them all this, a few of his disciples decide to pack their things and head back home.
  • When he sees that twelve of his disciples remain, he asks them if they want to leave him, too. This is getting sad.
  • Peter tells him they have nowhere else to go because Jesus is everything they want and need in life. He tells Jesus that he believes he is holy and from God. Good ol' Peter.
  • Jesus informs them that there is evil in their midst. He tells them that even though he chose these twelve disciples, one of them will betray him in the end. 
  • The Gospel writers tells us that this person is going to be Judas Iscariot, but the other disciples don't get the spoiler alert.

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